A federal judge has ruled that it is legal for the Kansas State Fair to require People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to shield the general public from a view of its video depicting animals being slaughtered in a packing plant.
U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten ruled that the fair is a "limited public forum" because there is a requirement for exhibitors to pay a fee for a booth which differentiates it from a public square where Thomas Marten did not, however, dismiss the PETA lawsuit and told the group it was free to appeal to the 10th Circuit Court.
PETA issued a written statement saying it was considering an appeal, but it has not filed paperwork.
During lawsuit arguments, the state contended that the fair is presented as "Kansas's Largest Classroom" and an education forum for children. The argument was that a "public forum" designation would destroy the educational atmosphere and open the fair to a plethora of other materials that not be suitable for children.
The PETA video shows what it purports are abuses of animals on "factory farms" where "animals are routinely confined in filth, beaten and kicked by workers and have their throats cut open while they are still conscious at the slaughterhouse."
The fair board told PETA that the video could be shown but had to be positioned in a way that it was forced on fair goers who might not want to see it.
In his ruling, Marten said that the restrictions imposed by the fair board were minimal and did not constitute any significant infringement on PETA's free speech rights. The restrictions, he said, do not prevent PETA from showing the video, just from shoving it in the faces of people who might not want to see it."It is simply a matter of whether you can have it shoved in your face or whether you take a step or two in another direction," Marten said.