PETA Challenges School's Deletion of Comments About Cruel Muscular Dystrophy Experiments on Dogs
For Immediate Release:
August 19, 2020
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
College Station, Texas – PETA has filed a federal lawsuit against Texas A&M University (TAMU) challenging the school’s deletion of comments on its official Facebook page and YouTube channel during its graduation ceremonies in the spring, which were held virtually in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic. TAMU manually deleted visitor comments associated with PETA’s high-profile campaign against its muscular dystrophy experiments on golden retrievers and other dogs.
This lawsuit follows one brought by PETA against TAMU over the automatic filtering and manual deletion of posts and comments on its Facebook page. As a result of that groundbreaking lawsuit, TAMU agreed not to discriminate against its critics on the basis of their viewpoint on its social media pages, an agreement that PETA now alleges it has violated.
“How and when a government-operated social media account becomes a ‘public forum’ is a critically important free speech issue,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “Texas A&M is violating its own social media policy because it can’t defend its cruel experiments on dogs.”
PETA’s latest lawsuit argues that TAMU’s Facebook page constitutes a public forum and that the school’s censorship represents viewpoint-, content-, and speaker-based discrimination, which is a violation of PETA’s constitutional right to free speech. The group is again represented, in part, by attorneys with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the privacy and free speech rights of all people in the digital era.
“Our First Amendment rights are infringed when agencies and officials block comments they don’t like or disagree with,” says EFF Civil Liberties Director David Greene. “And the rights of all readers are affected when the government manipulates its social media pages to make it appear that its policies and practices are universally embraced, rather than widely condemned.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—has released eyewitness video footage showing that dogs who were deliberately bred to develop a crippling and painful form of muscular dystrophy are left struggling to walk, swallow, and even breathe. These experiments have continued for 37 years, and no cure for the disease has been found.