Letters 05-11-2000

Chicken Tenders

Blood bother: David Holthouse's missive on the joys of watching chickens tear each other apart was very educational ("Fowl Play," April 13). It shouted volumes about a man who loves blood and violence.It is good to have things like this in print because it allows psychologists and sociologists the opportunity to gather needed information on how and why we seem to be becoming a more and more violent society. Holthouse should be proud to be playing a role in adding to this important body of knowledge.

It also allows people like me, who do not enjoy violence, to avoid dark alleys and the like -- just in case people like him are lurking therein. After all, one could never be certain that he'd had his "violent fix" for any one 24-hour period.

I can only hope that one day he will see the inside of a jail for violating something else: the law. He is obviously richly deserving of that experience, too.

Roberta Wright

PETA dread: David Holthouse tries to justify his love for this blood sport by pointing out that, hey, most people eat chickens. David, David, David: Didn't your mama ever teach you that two wrongs don't make a right? And there's plenty wrong with cockfighting.For starters, cockfighters breed their birds to be as aggressive as possible. To get birds in "fighting form," cockfighters cut off roosters' combs (making their heads less vulnerable to attack), attach razor-sharp spurs to the birds' feet, and pump them full of drugs. Birds are often given stimulants such as strychnine and testosterone, as well as blood-clotting drugs, to make them fight more ferociously.

During cockfighting tournaments, it's not uncommon for birds to suffer broken wings and legs, punctured lungs, severed spinal cords and gouged-out eyes. Former New York City police officer Robert O'Neill describes cockfighting as "organized cruelty" and says, "I've picked up birds with their stomachs ripped open."

And don't think for a second that these birds don't suffer. Says University of Arizona veterinarian Susan Wilson-Sanders, "There is no way around it. [Roosters] are going to feel the same kind of pain humans would feel if they fought with knives instead of gloves in the boxing ring."

There is a reason cockfighting is banned in almost every state in the country, including Arizona: Fighting animals to their death is a foul way to get one's kicks.

Paula Moore, staff writer
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,
Norfolk, Virginia

Picture Perfect

Face the music: I really enjoyed the photos of Phoenix music luminaries, past and present ("From Mohawks to Mullets," April 27). When I moved to Phoenix in the late '70s, I used to wonder about that house that had "Heino Lives" spray-painted across it. Your frequent articles on Frank Discussion and his "philosophy of life" actually made me feel like I had moved to an interesting city! Whatever happened to Frank, anyway? Thanks for a great article.

Name withheld by request

The Big Sleep

There will be a test on this: Great article about the GBL bust ("Chemistry Decree," James Hibberd, April 20). More arrests like this need to occur. Hibberd is correct, GBL is a precursor to GHB as it is the necessary ingredient for making GHB on the kitchen stove. But GBL is much more than that. It is also an analogue of GHB in that if you drink GBL, your body will automatically convert it to GHB. Drug dealers and dietary supplement makers made this discovery more than two years ago. They found that there was no need to cook up GHB anymore. Just use GBL straight or diluted with water. Drink it and it has the same effect as GHB.The Food and Drug Administration directed a voluntary recall of all dietary supplements containing GBL and other GHB substitutes like 1,4 butanediol last year. And later the FDA urged emergency-room personnel around the country to report poisonings involving GHB, GBL, 1,4 BD and other GHB substitutes to FDA's MedWatch program by calling 1800-FDA1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.

From what we hear, most of the "G" being sold illegally at rave clubs or health-food stores is not GHB. It is GBL or 1,4 BD. In fact, authorities in Florida, Texas, Ohio, California, Maryland, Alabama and other states have reported that the use of home-brewed GHB is minimal. It's all GBL, 1,4 butanediol or the other GHB substitutes.

This is dangerous stuff. First, these are hazardous chemicals meant for cleaning heavy machinery and delicate computer chips -- not for drinking. Second, it's easy to obtain. About 750 million pounds of 1,4 BD will be produced this year; a quarter of that goes into making GBL. GBL is legally distributed by 1,400 companies around the U.S.

And finally, this stuff can kill you, especially when mixed with alcohol.

The only way authorities are able to identify the GHB substitutes is by confiscating the liquid that was ingested or the bottle it came from. Otherwise, ER personnel are only going to find GHB in a person's body, again because GBL metabolizes naturally into GHB.

On April 10, Governor Hull signed a new law that listed GHB as a Schedule I substance, the same classification as heroin. And it listed medical GHB approved by FDA for the treatment of a rare sleep disorder called narcolepsy as a Schedule III substance, the same classification as other prescribed sleep agents. Narcolepsy affects about 2,300 people in Arizona, 180,000 nationwide.

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