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Tag: speech

High Court: Dogfight videos are free speech

dogfight

 
The Supreme Court has ruled that videos showing dogfights and other acts of animal cruelty are protected by free speech.

The court, in an 8-1 decision, struck down a federal law designed to stop the sale and marketing of such videos. The justices concluded the 10-year-old statute was overly broad.

The case before the court stemmed from an appeal by Robert Stevens, of Pittsville, Virginia, who sold videos through his business, Dogs of Velvet and Steel. The tapes show pit bulldogs attacking other animals and one another in staged confrontations.

The high court threw out Stevens’ conviction for selling depictions of animal cruelty.

Stevens argued his 37-month sentence sentence was longer than the 14 months given professional football player Michael Vick, who ran an illegal dogfighting ring.

His case was the first prosecution in the United States to proceed to trial under the 1999 law.

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Vick addresses students in Philadelphia

Michael Vick spoke to a group of Philadelphia high school students Tuesday, warning them against the dangers of peer pressure and urging them to make the right choices and resist the temptation to follow the crowd.

The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback addressed 200 freshmen on their first day at Nueva Esperanza Academy, a North Philadelphia charter school.

“I didn’t choose to go the right way, which led to 18 months in prison, which was the toughest time of my life,” he said. “Being away from my family, being away from my kids who I adore dearly, and being away from the game of football, doing something so foolish, and I wish I could take it all back.

“I was influenced by so many people when I should have been a leader, not a follower.”

The 10-minute talk marked Vick’s first anti-dogfighting public appearance in Philadelphia since he signed a one-year, $1.6 million deal with the Eagles on Aug. 13, the Associated Press reported.

“My future was promising … at some point, I got sidetracked. I started listening to my friends and doing some things that were not ethical and not right.”

Vick visited the school with Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Pacelle met with Vick in prison at the quarterback’s request and agreed to allow him help in the organization’s anti-dogfighting campaign.

Once the highest paid player in the NFL, Vick was suspended from the league following his conviction in August 2007 on charges of conspiracy and organizing the dogfighting ring. He was released from federal custody in July and was signed by the Eagles in August.

Vick is suspended for the first two games of the regular season and is eligible to play beginning Sept. 27.