Our big, stupid and ridiculous U.S. Senate race in Kentucky got another dose of WTF on Wednesday, as The News Journal in Corbin reported that Matt Bevin attended and spoke at a rally in support of legalizing cockfighting in Kentucky. Yes, cockfighting.
But wait just a second there before you go jumping to conclusions and affixing sharp blades on your ankles to do battle with Kentucky’s new Tea Party poster boy. Bevin explained that he actually thought it was a “state’s rights” rally, and didn’t know anything about cockfighting being discussed at the rally. However, Michael Devereaux — the Director of the Gamefowl Defense Network, which advocates for the legal and humane practice of cheering on two animals fighting each other to the death — says that is a chickenshit story:
Organizers say there was never any ambiguity about why they were meeting.
Devereaux said a new federal spectator law criminalizes not only those who participate in cock fighting, but any spectators at the event.
However, wording in the federal law states that if cockfighting is legal in the state and none of the fowl have crossed state lines, the federal law is moot.
“The basic argument is that the people of Kentucky have the right to determine how this issue is dealt with in their state,” Devereaux said.
Perhaps in damage control mode, Matt Bevin went on Terry Meiners show yesterday to ease people’s concerns about this whole cockfighting kerfuffle. And judging from his comments, when I say “people’s concerns,” I think I mean the concern of the Big Cockfighting lobby, not people who think cockfighting is sadistic and barbaric:
“But it’s interesting when you look at cockfighting and dogfighting as well. This isn’t something new, it wasn’t invented in Kentucky for example. I mean the Founding Fathers were all — many of them — very involved in this and always have been.”
If you’ve ever listened to speakers at a Tea Party rally, you know that the Founding Fathers were immortal and infallible saints who descended from heaven to chisel the Bill of Rights into stone tablets many years ago. And a very cursory Google search tells me that the likes of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson all enjoyed a pleasant evening watching roosters stab each other to death in a pile of blood.
However, I didn’t bother to spend any further amount of time verifying those claims on the website, because I actually couldn’t give a shit whether this was true or not, as Thomas Jefferson betting on a cockfighting match wouldn’t change my opinion that people who enjoy such a “sport” in 2014 are mentally deranged.
It should also be noted that George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson all owned slaves at one point in their lives. So if you want to go all Founding Fathers state’s rights on us… oh, be my guest.
Also, did Bevin actually bring up “dogfighting?” That’s special.
Understandably, Mitch McConnell’s people jumped all over Bevin for hugging the Big Cockfighting lobby, proudly sending out the Humane Society’s statement ripping Bevin and saying he should withdraw from the race:
“There’s no hidden purpose here: Organized criminals want to repeal Kentucky’s already weak anti-cockfighting statute,” Markarian said in the statement. “We have plenty of evidence that they are brazenly breaking the law, strapping razor-sharp knives and ice pick-like gaffs to the legs of roosters, throwing them into a pit and forcing them to hack each other to pieces — just so they can shout out bets and be titillated by the violence and bloodletting.”
“Matt Bevin showed appalling judgment in associating himself with this band of lawbreakers and perpetrators of unspeakable animal cruelty,” Markarian said. “He’s brought discredit upon the state of Kentucky, and he should withdraw from the Senate race.”
That’s certainly some biting criticism from the Humane Society. In fact, it’s somewhat similar to how they feel about those who support the practice of “soring,” the intentional infliction of pain to the feet and legs of Tennessee walking horses to produce an exaggerated gait. And according to the Humane Society, Sen. Mitch McConnell’s new legislation would actually protect this barbaric practice so that humans can be entertained by the sport of watching crippled horses perform in pain:
Federal legislation introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-TN, with Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, Rand Paul, R–KY, and Johnny Isakson, R-GA, as original cosponsors, would weaken protections for horses under the federal Horse Protection Act by placing enforcement authority in the hands of individuals with ties to the Tennessee walking horse industry. This would codify – and actually make worse – a scheme of self-regulation that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General called a failure and recommended be abolished. The bill, S. 2193, is intended as a companion to H.R. 4098, which was introduced in February by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN, and has been widely condemned by the horse industry, veterinary community and animal welfare groups.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said: “This new bill will do nothing to end soring of Tennessee walking horses. It amounts to a prescription for continued abuse of horses by the ‘Big Lick’ faction of trainers who seek to gain an advantage in competitive shows by intentionally injuring the animals. It puts a criminal faction of the industry in control of oversight.”
Keith Dane, vice president of Equine Protection at The HSUS and an owner of Tennessee Walking horses and a horse show judge, added: “Lawmakers sincerely interested in combating the criminal practice of soring should get behind the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act, H.R. 1518 and S. 1406 – which collectively have more than 300 cosponsors. We call on House and Senate leadership to swiftly move the PAST Act to the floor for a vote, and end the unconscionable suffering of these horses.”
Now, one might be quick to call McConnell a hypocrite when it comes to the cruel treatment of animals for entertainment purposes, but we should note that these are totally different. One sport is watching the quick death on an animal — that animal being one of 8 billion that are killed in America each year — for entertainment purposes. The other sport involves inflicting intentional pain on a horse — who Kentuckians seems quite fond of, I’ve heard — so that people can be entertained by their painful limping throughout the rest of the horse’s life.
It’s totally different.