Country singer Carrie Underwood is a bit miffed that the Tennessee state legislature passed the so-called “ag gag” bill and took to Twitter to post her displeasure. In fact, as Cattle Network reported on April 22, she’s threatened to protest at the governor’s door to make sure he vetoes the bill.
“Shame on TN lawmakers for passing the Ag Gag bill,” she wrote. “If Gov. Bill Haslam signs this, he needs to expect me at his front door. Who’s with me?”
By looking at the comments on her Twitter account following the tweet, it would appear that quite a few are with her.
The “ag gag” bill is supposedly designed to help initialize investigations against businesses that exercise cruel animal treatment and requires anyone with video footage of possible illegal activity to turn such over to authorities within 24 hours of obtaining it. Animal activists like Underwood and those worried about protecting the rights of whistleblowers contend that the new bill, if made into law, will actually focus investigations on the whistleblower, criminalizing those that would expose unsafe, cruel, or illegal practices for not turning over damaging videos to authorities within 24 hours.
As Cattle Network noted, the requirement is actually in keeping with other similar laws, such as the law regarding child abuse. And the livestock industry itself has attempted to get out in front of stories on abuse to animals in their care, promoting the “See It? Stop It!” initiative, which urges employees to report animal mishandling as soon as it is observed or discovered. The reasoning for such a campaign? Reports of abuse have a tendency to have a broad brush effect on an industry, where actual incidents of abuse might be isolated. Limiting public relations damage limits the negative economic impact to the industry.
But Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood isn’t the only “American Idol” finalist that has entered the political arena in public opposition to legislation. Last year, Season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken vocally opposed a constitutional amendment in North Carolina (his home state) for the state to not recognize gay marriages as legal unions under the law. (The state already bans same-sex marriage.) Despite the opposition, the bill — North Carolina Amendment One — passed in a statewide vote in May 2012 by a 61 percent to 39 percent margin.