Letters 04-27-2000

Pullet Surprise

If David Holthouse had checked with the Secretary of State, he'd have found that the campaign to stop cockfighting didn't spend 600 times as much money as the cockfighters, which his figures implied, but roughly twice as much. This is quite normal as it takes more money to qualify a measure for the ballot than to defeat one.

Holthouse's claim that our campaign was a sort of class warfare assumes that most people of modest income approve of cockfighting, whereas every poll showed that voters of all races, genders and socioeconomic levels supported a ban. Most of our funds came from Arizona artists who generously donated items that we auctioned off. Most of the cockfighters' money came from out-of-state cockfighting groups.

He also seems to be playing fast and loose when he states that Abe Lincoln got his nickname "Honest Abe" from refereeing cockfights. (Enclosed is a letter from the Illinois State Historical Library refuting such nonsense.)

Holthouse's approach to ethics appears as amateurish as his journalistic integrity. He basically says that because chickens are horribly treated on their way to the dinner plate, then anything else people want to do to them should be acceptable. If he similarly claimed that because abortion is legal any form of child abuse should be allowed, I don't think the publishers would be so indulgent.

In light of the fact that most states outlawed cockfighting by 1890, we fully expected voters to give us the landslide victory we enjoyed. That doesn't mean many of us didn't also feel the horrors of factory farms should be addressed. It just wasn't the time or the place. The public perceives a wide chasm between killing for food and killing for kicks.

Jamie Massey
Chairperson, Citizens Against Cockfighting
Tucson

David Holthouse responds: If Jamie Massey had read my column more carefully, he'd have noted I never reported Abraham Lincoln got his nickname "Honest Abe" by refereeing cockfights. Like most details of Lincoln's early life, this one's in dispute among his many biographers (nearly all of whom, however, place him as a cockfighting referee as a young man). Lincoln's first biographer, his close friend William H. Herndon, started the "Honest Abe" story in his 1896 biography Life of Lincoln, so I don't know what's up with your Illinois librarian writing he "knows of no documentary evidence to indicate Lincoln ever participated in or endorsed cock fighting," when the president's good friend said that he did. During the carnage of the Civil War, Lincoln had this to say on the first movements to outlaw cockfighting: "As long as the Almighty permits intelligent men created in his image to fight in public and kill each other while the world looks on approvingly, it is not for me to deprive the chicken of the same privilege."

And I have checked with the Secretary of State: Citizens Against Cockfighting spent nearly $300,000 to put Proposition 201 on the ballot, not including the valuation of all the Scottsdale cowboy art castaways auctioned off by Massey's group.

I am the wife of a chicken fighter and I love the fowl myself. I'm a registered nurse and humanitarian. I get upset when they compare us to criminals. I love the beauty, the courage, and I, too, have a breed of gamefowl I call my own. I've been married to my husband for 38 years, and I've been interested from the start. My husband has been in the business for 50 years, and we pay taxes and are law-abiding citizens. If the animal-rights people get all these bills passed against cockfighting, it won't stop there -- horse racing, rodeos, circuses, fur industry, ranching, dairy industry, research laboratories, McDonald's. I hope someday politicians will see the light.

Bonnie Robertson
via Internet

Whaaaaaaa! Poor little Davey Holthouse. He's so mad now that those holier-than-thou animal-loving hypocrites got that chicken law passed. How dare those people try to do something humane when they're not perfect. Not only must they stop eating factory-farmed fowl (or not -- do you really care, Davey?), but must renounce all acts of kindness. I agree with Davey -- only the morally righteous should have a say in society. This theory would make everything so easy, no bother.

True, Davey hates those rich people who give to their causes. I guess that's because his pals are poor. Damn those beer and gambling expenses, not to mention the extra gas money now. Davey is also wacked about the chucking-out of eons of tradition. Shoot, think of all those great traditions we Americans have had the audacity to discard. Doggone it -- we can't even beat the living crap out of our kids, let alone our wives anymore. And remember, both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Finally, Davey once again stands up for the underdog. (He's a real hero.) Poor Mr. Perez. Here's a fellow who comes into the good old U.S. of A. to do drywall with a little chicken fightin' on the side, and lo and behold, those crusty, unforgiving police officers snag him for breaking that bad, bad law. See, you bad, bad people, now you're going to have to pay the high, high fees and costs to establish that Arizona's law is just as constitutional a law as all the other states that have enacted it.

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