TN Ag-Gag Bill Sponsor Compares Exposing Animal Abuse to Rape

Written by Erica Meier

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We saw in the last election the fate of political candidates who for some reason felt compelled to talk repeatedly—and often ignorantly—about rape. Well, now Republican Tennessee state representative Andy Holt, the sponsor of the state’s ag-gag bill to criminalize whistleblowers at factory farms, is joining that club.

As reported by The Tennessean, in an email exchange with a female staffer at the Humane Society of the United States, Rep. Holt likened the work of exposing animal abuse to the way “human traffickers use 17 year old women.” He continued by describing HSUS’ use of videography to uncover cruelty to farmed animals as “tape and rape.”

Perhaps Rep. Holt just has a problem with women. After all, this is the same lawmaker who suggested that Carrie Underwood should “stick to singing” after she publicly urged Tennessee’s Governor Haslam to veto Holt’s ag-gag bill.

The Chattanoogan’s Roy Exum characterizes Holt’s reactions as going “ballistic” while also noting that in 2012 Holt received an award from the Farm Bureau, which apparently came along with all-expense paid junket to Hawaii and a new truck.

Tennessee lawmakers passed Holt’s ag-gag bill earlier this month, and it’s now sitting on Governor Haslam’s desk pending his signature. In an editorial, The Tennessean called the bill “despicable” and a “disgrace to our state.”

Countless voices – from celebrities like Carrie Underwood to animal protection groups to the media – are blowing the whistle on these anti-whistleblower bills in an effort to stop them from becoming law.

Last week, a similar bill that was pending in Indiana officially died in the legislature.  And this past weekend, the Washington Post wrote a powerful editorial shaming lawmakers who have “bowed to pressure from agribusiness” by supporting ag-gag bills. The editorial suggests “As you next cut into a steak or crack an egg, ask yourself why an industry that claims it has nothing to hide demands protections afforded to no other.”

Read more about the negative impacts of ag-gag bills, and be sure to sign up for COK’s eNewsletter to get the latest news and action alerts about ag-gag bills and more.