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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Super Tuesday for Animals

It took less than ten minutes after the Kentucky polls closed last night for Sen. Mitch McConnell to be declared the victor in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate over challenger Matt Bevin—about the same amount of time birds with razor-sharp gaffs strapped to their legs will last in a cockfighting match. Bevin’s campaign was derailed by cockfighting, and he lost ground after speaking at a rally organized to legalize the blood sport in Kentucky, getting trounced by a statewide margin of 25 points in what was originally supposed to be a competitive race.

In fact, Bevin lost by even wider margins and underperformed against his statewide totals in some of the most notorious cockfighting counties in the state. In Clay, Edmonson, Floyd, Laurel, and Pike Counties — home to some of the state's largest cockfighting pits, with names like the Big Blue Sportsmen’s Club, which features arena-style seating, a full-service restaurant, and laminated membership cards — Bevin lost by a range of 31 to 60 points. The cockfighters don’t seem to be much of a voting bloc, and politicians have nothing to gain by catering to these organized criminals who commit unspeakable cruelty to animals.

Cockfighting Gaff
Example of the razor-sharp knives strapped to fighting birds. Photo Credit: The HSUS/Alex Gallardo

In Louisiana, the last state to ban cockfighting, it used to be conventional wisdom among some politicians that you couldn’t go against the cockfighters, and there are even some lawmakers who still defend the sport as “chicken boxing.” But just yesterday, the state legislature took another step in the right direction by giving final passage to a bill that fortifies Louisiana’s 2007 anti-cockfighting statute. If signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, it will increase the first-offense penalties for cockfighting, tighten the definition of birds used for fighting, and ban the possession of cockfighting weapons and paraphernalia, to help law enforcement crack down on this staged animal combat. It’s a sign of the times that the last state to have legal cockfights may soon have one of the strongest anti-cockfighting laws on the books.

In other election news, Rep. Jack Kingston and businessman David Perdue are headed to a runoff in the Republican primary for the open U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. We were pleased to see Rep. Paul Broun place fifth among the GOP candidates, getting only 9.6 percent of the vote. Broun described himself as a volunteer lobbyist for Safari Club International before coming to Congress, and during his time in office, he has had one of the most extreme anti-animal records, opposing the most modest efforts to prevent cruelty and abuse, and going out of his way to attack animal protection. Shockingly, he was one of only three lawmakers to vote against legislation in 2010 to ban the trafficking in obscene animal “crush” videos, in which scantily clad women in high heels crush puppies, kittens, and other small animals to death for the sexual titillation of viewers. Good riddance to him, since he gave up his House seat for his failed Senate run.

Paul Broun and Matt Bevin may be the poster boys for a new premise in politics:  Being soft on animal cruelty can be fatal to your prospects.



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