Pulp Legislation

Congress Brings the Crush Video Industry to Heel

Save that case, the only other fatalities in crush videos have been the unwilling animal actors. Bringing their assailants to justice, however, has not been any easier. Perhaps the first investigation of crush video-related mayhem took place on Long Island in 1998, when 28-year-old Thomas Capriola was arrested after the local SPCA chapter noticed his online sales of films depicting everything from toads to turtles being tortured under the boot. His case has been stalled for over a year (it's finally scheduled to be heard on December 14). After a yearlong investigation into crush video producers, prosecutors in Ventura County, California, discovered last year that most of the tapes essential to their case fell outside the very short statute of limitations on state animal cruelty laws. Ventura County prosecutor Tom Connors then brought the crush video issue to the attention of his congressman, Republican Elton Gallegly, who in short order held the first congressional hearings on crush videos.

It was not, by all accounts, a pleasant affair. In addition to an array of still photos depicting crushing, the Humane Society showed a three-minute clip of a guinea pig being tortured. (That there were 22 additional, unseen minutes of footage ultimately culminating in the rodent's death was all the more sobering.) The issue of dead animals brought a couple of career-dead celebrity activists out, too: M*A*S*H's Hot Lips denounced the videos, as did Mickey Rooney. From there on, the bill sailed through Congress, meeting only with brief, bizarre opposition by Representative Bob Barr, Republican of Georgia, who apparently took the hardline conservative view that this simply wasn't something that merited federal legislation.

Nonetheless, the House voted 372-42 in favor of Gallegly's bill prohibiting the interstate sale and transport of crush videos; the Senate version of the bill, championed by the right-wing troika of Orrin Hatch, Jon Kyl, and Bob Smith, met with no objections, and became one of the last pieces of legislation passed by the first session of the 106th Congress.

illustration by Limbert Fabian

An animal lover who, like the other dommes she knows, would never consider torturing animals in her scenes, Mistress 2K—a Washington domme who has "disciplined" some of Capitol Hill's denizens—nonetheless sees a certain irony in Congress taking action against crush videos. "No one was better suited, really," she says, "as they know all about crushing small, helpless, beings."

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