In a corporate world in which the Pennsylvania DEP would clearly issue a gas fracking permit to drill right beside—let’s say—the only oasis to supply water to the desert city of wishyouwerehere, before being asked, Smokey and I were still surprised at the news out of Iowa, reported in this morning’s CDT. Apparently, Iowa has introduced legislation to make it a crime “to produce, distribute, or possess photographs and videos taken on an agricultural facility without permission of the owner.” Lying on your agricultural worker application—we are admittedly having trouble picturing this application—with the intent of doing any of those investigative things, would also be criminal. Similar legislation is planned for Florida and Minnesota, where copies of Upton Sinclair’s novel, The Jungle, are being given away free, so that they can be burned next Wednesday night.
We sent a normally intrepid Smokey Diamond, our investigative reporter out to Iowa to get the rest of the story. Smokey kept muttering stuff about ropes, cottonwood trees and frontier justice as we dragged her to the airplane.
Smokey spoke to Ann Hormel, spokesperson for both the Iowa legislature and the State’s agribusiness, which as she pointed out are just too tight to separate. Ann was clearly worked up about the photos and videos, often capturing animal cruelty and poor sanitation on the agribusiness facilities. In response to Smokey’s questions, Ann asked with great passion, “What kind of low-life would lie on his farm worker application just to get photos of sick animals being butchered for meat or chickens forced to roost in their own fifth while producing eggs?” “What kind of human being would do that?”