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

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.

All in all, Davey, if we ignore your faulty logic, lack of originality, petulant attitude and egregious syntax, yours was a good article. Oh yeah, you're a dick.

Derek Lawrence

It has been an interesting mix of topics for the columnist known as Holthouse. I applaud his persuasive storytelling mingled with an occasional opinion. After reading David's column about unlawful man-on-man relations at a local homo sex club ("Slippery Chute," March 16) followed by his exquisite expos' of his misdemeanor meanderings in and about illegal rooster fights, one thing seems obviously clear. Whether Holthouse is writing about choking his chicken with other dudes or betting on them, he clearly has cock on the mind.

Should Sheriff Joe follow young David to his next forbidden outing, one thing stands to reason: Holthouse could end up in the poke having all that hot man-sex with his fellow cockfighters. And, America's Toughest Sheriff doesn't hand out condoms. Let the feathers fall where they may!

Jeff Ofstedahl

I read David Holthouse's article "Fowl Play" (April 13) and wanted to thank him for having the courage to speak out for cockfighters in Arizona, where they have suffered tremendous losses, and also to cockfighters all over the United States. I think the animal-rights fanatics are beginning to show their true colors. We're seeing more and more stories of fraudulent reports of animal abuse to drum up publicity for local legislation, as well as unethical conduct in collecting signatures for petitions, as is happening in Oklahoma. When the petition court battle is over and we are able to disclose the evidence we've collected, proponents of the petition to ban cockfighting will have some serious legal questions to answer. I hope that you will continue to use your position in the media to help us expos the animal-rights movement and its perverted sense of "morality."

T. Jones
via Internet

For years, the blast from my neighbors' stable of caged gladiators predicted the dawn. I hated the damn things until I began to recognize their voices. Following some kids into the yard one day, I learned as my new friend taught his children to love those birds to death. His kids knew the birds would fight and die and worked hard with them to make better fighters -- so death would be honorable and the victors celebrated.

Like the quinceanera parade of virgins, the fiestas patronales of the church or the little corner botanica, where sage advice and prayers are uttered as potions are mixed to cure all ills, la gallera is an institution of Hispanic culture that isn't going to disappear because some Anglos don't like it. They imagine only a blood-and-feathers deathpit. But for those who go, it's about wearing your good shoes, dancing to live music, lots of kids, good cheap food, no cops and a place mama knows where the old man is.

So cockfighting is illegal and only outlaws are there and the underground version of la gallera becomes a bloody spot at a gravel pit exactly as imagined by those who banned it. Because some folks don't like it, others lose a piece of heritage.

My friend in Puerto Rico doesn't golf or bowl or jet-ski. He comes from work, and together with his brother and the kids, they love his beautiful birds to death.

Carl Cuseo

I wish to commend Mr. Holthouse on his outstanding article, "Fowl Play." I have never attended a cockfight but have always, somehow, felt it was constitutionally wrong for Arizona to have passed Proposition 201 -- now I know why. Excellent article. Thank you.

G.K. Sirrine

The story "Fowl Play" by David Holthouse is as factual and unbiased as any article ever written on cockfighting. I cheer Mr. Holthouse for having the gameness to write such a story. While it is true some gamecocks die in battle, some win and live out their lives as brood cocks. When you open a bucket or box of chicken, just think -- these were all losers. They only lived six to eight weeks under the worst conditions. The gamecock usually has lived two years under the best conditions before it is presented for battle. The $600,000 that the animal-rights activists spent on Proposition 201 would have been better spent persuading soon-to-be mothers to carry their unborn to full term or for more teachers' aides. I doubt there is a teacher in Arizona who couldn't use some help and money.

William Larry Hollis
Atlanta, Texas


I'm a friend of Michael Hall ("Chemistry Decree," James Hibberd, April 20). Matter of fact, his best friend.

Thank you for treating this story fairly. I [and many others] believe Michael did not intentionally try to break the law. He was very up-front about everything he did -- posted a Web site, gave warnings, packaged the chemical according to federal guidelines, gave inserts in his packages about things not to do with the chemical, paid his taxes and reaped the benefits of his knowledge of chemistry. Hardly a person trying to "push" drugs.

What was not mentioned to you (most likely) is why Michael was selling this chemical, GBL. He has ADHD (he has to take medicine for it, otherwise he is catatonic), and it has gotten worse throughout the years. He can't hold a job because of it. This "at home" business was the only thing he could do, really. It only made him about $35,000 to $40,000 for the first year and a half, but in the last six months he made a lot more because of the rumor that it was going to be banned. It still isn't officially banned, as it is (as of this writing) not listed in the federal register, a requirement. GHB is listed, however.

I have used (and probably will again) GBL at several electronic companies I have worked for. It is used to clean printed circuit boards (PCBs), among other things.

I'm more outraged how the media simply repeat what the DEA tells them. For example, originally they said he had pipe bombs and a meth lab in his garage! They dropped the meth lab, but the pipe bomb thing is still mentioned. Fact is, he had a canister of smokeless powder (I saw the inventory taken by the DEA; it is sitting here at my desk) used to repack bullets for a registered gun that he owns. The repacking machine and the powder were given to him by one of his Mensa friends.

Bryan Wilcutt

Ah, yes, another high-profile arrest by the DEA to justify their existence. I wonder if they called the television news stations before or after the arrest. Was this the DEA equivalent of a "Your Tax Dollars at Work" sign on a torn-up road? If the government wants to erect another war-on-drugs sign, they should not paint it with the blood of one of its presumed-innocent-until-proven-guilty citizens.

Bill Rouse

Twenty years ago, in my sophomore year at college, I took the dreaded Philosophy 101. The instructor, during a debate, stated that the (then) U.S.S.R. and the United States would become closer and closer every year til you almost could not tell them apart "politically." We all laughed, but it seems he was a visionary.

Richard Lewis
via Internet

I have to comment on the views of one bureaucrat. Your story states: "Jim Molesa, a special agent with the Phoenix DEA, notes that the threefold price hike alone indicates that Hall knew he was dealing a black-market item."

With that logic, I am in very serious trouble. Those vinyl records I bought at the thrift store for 49 cents and auctioned off on eBay for prices varying from $4 to $32 far exceed the threefold increase. Guess the jackbooted thugs will be coming for me next. With all the resources the government has (based on money torn from us under threat and duress), the feds will likely ensure I disappear permanently since my profit margin indicates a Calit Cartel-like operation.

Not that I agree with what Michael Hall did, but, hey, they let O.J. drink orange juice and call mom! You or I would have been tossed to the ground, handcuffed and drug away. There are many examples of the "privileged class" getting special treatment. How long are the American people gonna let this continue?

Scott Kelley
via Internet


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