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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bill to make cockfighting a felony wins Va. panel’s OK

…was a headline of an AP article in the Manassas Journal Messenger that caught my eye yesterday. Several questions immediately popped into my mind:

1) What country are we in?

2) What century are we in?

3) Why is it even necessary to make something as patently abhorrent as cockfighting illegal?

4) Is it going to snow in Baltimore Thursday?

The last question is unrelated to the cockfighting issue. I’m just trying to figure out when I need to leave home in the morning for my meetings up there.

In the “sport” of cockfighting, two trained and specially-bred roosters, outfitted with spurs or blades on their talons, fight in a pen until one is killed or incapacitated. This gruesome pasttime is illegal in most states, with varying penalties.

Apparently, cockfighting is widespread in the US and in many places throughout the world, and its popularity in the US is growing in proportion to immigration. Last week, over 120 people were arrested at an event in southern Virginia, where spectators were charged $20 admission. The haul included 22 suspected gang members, who now face amputation, I mean deportation (sorry, freudian slip), and 10 children. Police also confiscated 126 live roosters, many of which had to be euthanized, along with numerous ones already dead.

In Virginia, cockfighting itself is not currently illegal; however, making money from it is: promoting, charging admission, and betting on, or awarding prizes for the fight are misdemeanors, punishable by a small fine. The legislative action indicated by the title of this article would make the sport itself a felony. Only Mississippi has more lenient penalties for cockfighting, according to the AP article. We’re number two, we’re number two, I was thinking until I discovered that it’s still completely legal in Louisiana and New Mexico.

With the new bill, legislators hope to make Virginia less attractive to cockfighting organizers from surrounding surrounding states, claiming that the tougher penalties in states such as North Carolina make Virginia a magnet for this activity, along with other criminal behavior that usually follows it, such as drug dealing, gang activity, and assault. In the aforementioned raid, police also found marijuana, crack, and cocaine. Win-win if you ask me.

Quoted in a USAToday article, Diana Orosco VanHoozen (!), a breeder of fighting roosters in New Mexico, is claiming discrimination by similar legislation proposed by State Sen. Mary Jane Garcia in that state. “I want to be able to still practice my cultural tradition,” she says, deftly splitting an infinitive while attempting to defend her ghastly occupation.

“Whose culture are we talking about?” counters Garcia, dangling a preposition in the heat of the moment.

“And why can’t we leave it there?” adds Bruck, ignoring the antecedent to amplify the larger point.

Another AP article quotes John Goodwin of the Humane Society of the United States: “This is a primitive blood sport that goes back thousands of years. Unfortunately, some people haven’t progressed beyond that.”

I think we now have our answers to the above questions. This is still the United States, but the culture war is raging on many fronts. We’re living in the 21st century, at least for some of us are. Why do we need to even make laws against things like cockfighting? Because there’s always somebody. We already have dogfighting. What’s next, horsefighting?

Anyway, sorry if today’s dispatch is kind of a downer - it didn’t start out that way, but how can you have fun with such an objectionable topic? So, you might be asking, Bruck, what can we do? I don’t know, I’m not a real activist type. I’d say call your local Humane Society and ask them.

Regarding question #4 above, it’s not looking good - snow & freezing rain are predicted. I’d better leave early.


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