Cockfighting And The First Amendment?

Cockfighting is legal in Puerto Rico. And now the broadcast of cockfights over the Internet is a First Amendment issue here:

The change in the focus of the debate -- from live fights to video depictions of them -- has expanded the argument over cockfighting's cruelty into one that involves the First Amendment and, its defenders say, cockfighting's cultural significance in other countries.

. . . At the heart of the dispute is a law signed by President Bill Clinton that makes it illegal to create, sell or possess a depiction of animal cruelty with the intention of selling the depiction -- across state lines or internationally -- for commercial gain. . .. In signing the law, Clinton said it was important that the law not be construed so broadly as to "chill protected speech." Toward that end, the law offers an exception for depictions of animal cruelty that have "serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical or artistic value." But the law does not spell out which depictions qualify.

The company's Miami lawyer, David Markus, dismisses the child pornography comparison, instead comparing cockfighting to bullfighting, hunting and fishing. . . .

I do see bullfighting on the Spanish cable stations beamed here and it is not clear to me how bullfighting is more acceptable than cockfighting. Indeed, it is arguably worse as the bull does not naturally fight men whereas cocks do fight each other, and to the death sometimes.

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    true enough, (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 12:58:01 AM EST
    whereas cocks do fight each other, and to the death sometimes.

    but, as a rule, they aren't doing it for our "entertainment". as well, all kinds of animals engage in to-the-death struggles, in the wild. again, these are last gasp, fights for survival, when all other options are gone, not staged for some human's vicarious pleasure.

    your comparison holds no water, and i'm surprised it was presented. clearly, any event using animals to fight is barbaric, and has no legitimate place in civilized society, regardless of the native "culture". that's a red herring, thrown in to make us gringos feel guilty.

    cockfighting is on the same level as bullfighting, dogfighting and bear baiting. actually, it's just a notch below boxing. at least in boxing, (presumably) the boxers have made a conscious decision to engage in the activity. the animals have no such choice.

    A fortiori (none / 0) (#17)
    by Demi Moaned on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 10:07:56 PM EST
    I take it as an a fortiori argument-- not defending cockfighting, but criticizing bullfighting, and I think legitimately. I.e., if cockfighting is bad, how much worse is bullfighting.

    So should bullfighting video be banned? (none / 0) (#2)
    by roy on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 01:09:01 AM EST
    Or should cockfight videos be allowed?

    above was intended for cpinva (none / 0) (#3)
    by roy on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 01:09:45 AM EST
    TI passed up the opportunity to see a live (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 01:27:39 AM EST
    bull fight in San Juan.  Too late now, I gather.  

    IMHO (none / 0) (#5)
    by Al on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 01:30:11 AM EST
    any exhibition of arranged, real violence where any living being gets hurt should be banned. And yes, that includes boxing.

    The main purpose of cockfighting in particular is gambling, which makes it particularly obscene in my books.

    I would also ban bullfighting, even though there is no gambling involved. Everyone knows who lives and who dies.

    Gotta disagree.... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 09:58:46 AM EST
    In the case of boxing or football, the competitors enter the contest under their own free will.  Banning these sports is tyranny, plain and simple.

    I can see the argument for banning cockfighting, no free will for the cocks, but I'm not sure it would accomplish anything.  Prohibition is a born loser if the thing being prohibited is popular.


    Gotta disagree with kdog (none / 0) (#8)
    by Sailor on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 11:55:06 AM EST
    The point of boxing is to render the other person unconscious. This causes brain damage.

    Should the law allow death matches because people are so desperate they will sign an agreement of their 'own free will?'

    Economic slavery is still slavery.


    That's not the point when I box..... (none / 0) (#18)
    by kdog on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 10:31:10 AM EST
    and I do it for free.  It's for the excercise, the competition, to test my mettle, and keep my self-defense skills sharp.

    Can you get hurt?  Yes, but that's not the goal.

    Besides, if you ban it it goes underground like the dog and cock fights....who does that serve?  

    Human beings have an aggressive streak by nature...better to channel that aggression into a sporting event like boxing or football than going out looking for a street fight.


    Well (none / 0) (#19)
    by squeaky on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 12:46:33 PM EST
    I also like to box, tai chi style. And also like to watch good boxing american style.

    I wish I could remember who was the author of the quote that goes something like this:

    The one thing all pro boxers have in common is growing up poor.

    Most if not all of these guys, and gals, have serious brain damage when they retire. They are usually exploited.

    Yes it is their choice but.... Would you support gladiator fighting to the death even if it was voluntary?

    For me it is all difficult, especially when it comes to things like dogfighting which I would never watch but is a national sport in Japan. The tosa is bred for fighting and it has been going on for a long time.

    Eating meat, eating bugs, Jailing for smoking a plant...

    Many things are problematic from anothers viewpoint. How legislation fits in is a very thorny issue.


    This Is A Cultutal Issue (none / 0) (#9)
    by squeaky on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 01:03:56 PM EST
    America does not have any right to tell other cultures what is right and what is wrong.

    Especially after seeing what we do from the top down from premptive war to torture not to mention the abu ghraib pron shows.

    A thorny problem for the internet which is culture blind.

    squeaky (1.00 / 0) (#10)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 03:02:24 PM EST
    America does not have any right to tell other cultures what is right and what is wrong.

    So America did not have the right to tell slave owners to release their slaves?

    So America did not have the right to tell Germany that it was wrong to murder Jews and other minorities??

    So America did not have the right to tell the Soviets that it was not right to enslave Europe and kill millions?

    So America did not have the right to tell the Serbs it was wrong to kill the Moslems and it was wrong for the Molems to kill the Serbs and then to tell the Croatians.....

    And the Hindus to kill the Molems and the Molems to kill the Hindus..

    Like it or not, all cultures are not equal, and the results of all cultures are not equal. History is full of examples.


    Wow (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by squeaky on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 03:08:13 PM EST
    Quite the Nationalist ppj.
    Like it or not, all cultures are not equal, and the results of all cultures are not equal. History is full of examples.

    Let me guess......

    Your christian white male american culture is at the tippity top of the top ten list of the greatest cultures of all time.


    White, Christian, (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by jondee on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 03:18:31 PM EST
    Rethuglican, male to be precise.

    bullfighting? (none / 0) (#13)
    by chemoelectric on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 03:43:20 PM EST
    I remember when you could see bullfighting on English-language TV; cockfighting has got to be no worse. Maybe the 'difference' is a class-level distinction.

    (I haven't seen cock chickens fighting, but have witnessed mallard drakes fighting to the death. They hold the loser's head under water and drown him. That's life for ducks.)

    The ethics of bullfighting (none / 0) (#14)
    by A M Caveness on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 04:42:31 PM EST
    Try as I might, I've never been able to see in the call to ban bullfighting -- at least when, as is almost always the case, it is uncoupled from a larger animal-rights programme -- anything more than sanctimonious hypocrisy.

    Chasing a bull around for an hour, poking it with spears, and then killing it with a sword thrust is unquestionably very cruel. But it is surely not significantly more cruel than herding a cow into a confined pen, knocking it unconscious with a bolt to the head, shackling it, and then causing it to bleed to death, which is what happens in an abattoir.

    Add to this the important data that (1) the prior life of an animal raised for sport will have been, most often, longer, less confined, and less painful than that of one raised for food, and (2) that the meat of bulls killed in bullfighting is sold after the fight, just as the meat of an animal commercially slaughtered would be; the only reasonable conclusion from these facts is that the killing of a certain number of animals in bullfighting is either less cruel or, at worst, no more cruel than the killing of an equivalent number in the meat industry.

    This leaves, I submit, three plausible positions that one can take on the issue, dependent on one's views on animal cruelty in general. First, one can view both bullfighting and the meat industry as morally acceptable; second, one can view both as morally unacceptable, and refuse to participate in them (which means, all other things being equal, neither eating meat produced in mainstream abattoirs nor attending bullfights) while rejecting the claim that the powers of the state should be used to prohibit others from participating in them; third, one can work to get the state to suppress both bullfighting and the animal slaughter industry in its current form. But to urge the state to prohibit bullfighting on animal cruelty grounds without simultaneously urging it to end equally cruel practices in the meat industry (which means closing down the vast majority of extant slaughterhouses), or to condemn those who attend bullfights without also condemning those who eat mass-produced meat, is inconsistent and (barring unusually naive ignorance about the meat industry) hypocritical.      

    It will be objected, of course, that killing a bull for sport and then selling its meat is morally worse than killing a cow in an abattoir to sell its meat, even given equal levels of intrinsic cruelty, because the former is done in public and gives some people aesthetic enjoyment. But this is nothing but the worst kind of visceral puritanism: it requires one to believe that an action can be made morally worse, even when its morally relevant direct effects remain the same, merely by having the indirect effect of causing someone pleasure, or that an iniquitous action can be made morally better, even if its direct effects stay the same, merely in virtue of being kept secret. That is hand-wringing, not ethics.      

    A M Caveness (none / 0) (#15)
    by cpinva on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 06:40:01 PM EST
    your comparison, like BTD's, lacks intellectual substance. last i checked, slaughterhouses don't put their activities on tv, or invite a crowd of spectators in to watch. red herring alert!

    yes roy, bullfighting and cockfighting, and any related videos, should be banned. unless, of course, you plan to bring back executing christians in the coliseum, by having them torn apart by lions, while 1,000's enjoy the spectacle.

    no squeaky, not all cultures are equal. you should know better than to even make an idiotic comment like that. some arab cultures remove a girl's clitoris, to reduce her chances of being unchaste when she marries. just because it's their "culture" doesn't make it ok, would you not agree? if you wouldn't, i submit you're seriously deranged, and should immediately seek competent, professional medical help.

    ignore jim. his comment, vis a vis america and slavery, shows just how clueless he is about US history.

    with regards to your assertion that we have no standing to question the morality of other cultures, i vehemently disagree. any culture that has brutality, solely for its own sake, as a featured aspect, is inherently immoral. the last time i checked, our culture doesn't, and hasn't, ever. not officially condoned anyway.

    i could go on, but why bother? you either get it, or you don't.

    Re: analogies (none / 0) (#16)
    by A M Caveness on Sun Jul 22, 2007 at 07:04:29 PM EST

    You miss my point. I am perfectly aware that abattoirs do not broadcast the slaughter of animals or sell tickets. What I am claiming is that the difference between killing an animal in front of spectators and killing an animal in private in an abattoir is not a morally relevant difference; what is relevant is the quantity of suffering that the animal undergoes. Bear in mind that I am not arguing that bullfighting is morally acceptable; I am merely arguing that it is no more morally unacceptable than the meat industry. To what degree the meat industry is morally unacceptable is an entirely separate question.

    As for gladiatorial contests, the analogy is misplaced. If someone were to argue that such things were degraded spectacles while maintaining that it was acceptable to kill people with great cruelty in private, I should say that his position was inconsistent and hypocritical -- for the same reasons that I think being anti-bullfighting and pro-slaughterhouses is inconsistent and hypocritical. But my arguments do not tell against one who wishes to ban both gladiatorial combat and private murder, any more than they tell against one who wants to ban both bullfighting and the meat industry. They are not intended to.