Exposing Cruelty in Nursing Homes, Factory Farms, Daycares Now a Crime in North Carolina

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Despite opposition from a wide range of groups, including AARP, veterans, journalists, and animal welfare advocates, North Carolina lawmakers have overriden the governor’s veto of their ag-gag bill.

The bill, which becomes law one week after the veto override, lets businesses sue employees who expose what happens on the job, even if it what they are exposing is illegal.

The bill is part of the ag-gag trend, in that it is primarily focused on animal welfare advocates who expose factory farm cruelty. But the bill is so broad it affects all workplaces. That’s why veterans’ groups and the AARP have come out in opposition.

“To give one relevant example, allegations surfaced last year that employees at Veterans Affairs facilities in North Carolina had been retaliated against for whistleblowing,” wrote Steven Nardizzi, chief executive of the Wounded Warrior Project. “As an organization dedicated to honoring and empowering injured service members, we are concerned that this legislation might cause wrongdoing at hospitals and institutions to go unchecked, and make it more difficult for attorneys handling nursing home abuse cases.”

Domestic violence groups have spoke up as well. The N.C. Council for Women and the Domestic Violence Commission noted that undercover investigations — exactly the conduct criminalized in this bill — were used to prosecute human sex trafficking.

In short, this ag-gag bill isn’t just about agriculture. It’s a sweeping attack on any whistleblower who speaks up for the most vulnerable.

It’s hard to wrap my head around what North Carolina is thinking with this one. But keep in mind these are the same lawmakers who also voted to override the governor’s veto of a discriminatory marriage bill.

In both cases, these are prime examples of people on the losing end of history; they reflect the death throes of anti-gay bigots and factory farmers who just refuse to change with the times.

Will Potter is an award-winning investigative journalist and author based in Washington, D.C. He specializes in dissident politics and culture, the policing of dissent, and civil liberties post-9/11. His work has appeared in the world’s top media outlets, including the Washington Post, CNN, National Geographic, WIRED, NPR, the History Channel, and Rolling Stone. His book, Green Is The New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege, exposes how non-violent animal rights and environmental protesters came to be classified by the FBI as “eco-terrorists.”

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