Should cockfighting be outlawed in Oklahoma?
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Earlier this month, the citizens of Oklahoma voted to ban cockfighting, in some cases making it a felony punishable by two years in prison and fines up to $25,000. The chicken breeders went to court and have won temporary restraining orders, allowing cockfighting to continue.
Wayne Pacelle, senior vice president of the Humane Society of the United States of America debated the issue with "Crossfire" hosts Robert Novak and James Carville on Monday.
NOVAK: Mr. Pacelle, have you ever seen a cockfight?
NOVAK: I've seen one; it was in Puerto Rico a number of years ago. I enjoyed it tremendously.
PACELLE: That's unfortunate.
NOVAK: Well, I had a very enjoyable evening. Tell me what you object to about it.
PACELLE: Well, it is certainly not my idea of fun, Bob. It is two roosters that are bred for aggressive characteristics, pumped up with stimulants, and they have knives or ice pick-like devices called gaffs that are affixed to their legs, and they're placed in this pit where they can't escape. They're forced to fight to injury or death, all for amusement and illegal gambling. This is not some novel idea. A majority of states banned cockfighting in the 19th century.
NOVAK: Well, a lot of states banned boxing in the 19th century as well, and we were smart enough to change those bans.
PACELLE: None of these bans have been repealed in any of states.
NOVAK: Are you against killing the chickens for food?
PACELLE: We're certainly against industrial farming where animals are packed in small cages or crates and forced to live miserable lives. But one very important distinction is that those animals are raised for food. Now, many people are vegetarian and opt for another way. But this is just killing for amusement.
NOVAK: So it is OK to slash their throat for food?
PACELLE: No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that it raises a certain questions ...
NOVAK: Are you for it or against it?
PACELLE: Well, I'm against it, but I'm certainly against industrial farming.
NOVAK: Thank you. Now I know where you're coming from.
PACELLE: Well, I'm just wondering, are you against dogfighting, because dogfighting ...
NOVAK: No. Are you against bullfighting?
PACELLE: Of course I am against bullfighting.
NOVAK: Well, that is one of great sports in the world. I love bullfighting. Go ahead.
CARVILLE: Well, I mean, I'm little bit on the fence in this.
PACELLE: How can you be on the fence on this issue?
CARVILLE: ... I'm from Louisiana. Well, I think it is a pretty inhumane thing. What I find convincing is every time voters have a chance to vote on this, they vote not to have cock fights.
PACELLE: And again, we're talking 48 states out of 50. We're not talking about some new experiment that is going on. Forty-eight out of 50, 96 percent of states, and voters do it by overwhelming margins.
CARVILLE: But Bob, let me give him credit here. He makes a good point. If I'm going to be upset about this, I am not going to be upset at Thanksgiving dinner. Yesterday, I made a chicken and sausage jambalaya. The rice didn't come from an animal, but it was damn good ...
PACELLE: If you take the attitude that one form of animal use is acceptable, then you can't criticize anything else. We will be left with everything. You'll be left with cruelty to animals. You will be left dogfighting. Can't we independently assess these issues and make a judgment? Now, on the factory farming issue, you know, it is terrible. The old days when chickens used to scratch in the back yard and have some access to freedom of movement, that was one thing. Now they're all raised in industrial farms and it raises an important question ...
NOVAK: Do you personally know any chickens? You seem to be able to psychoanalyze them. They have a little tiny brain. They don't feel anything.
PACELLE: Bob, I don't know if you have spent much time on farms, but an industrial farm vs. an old style ...
NOVAK: Well, I don't care. I'm asking about chickens.
PACELLE: Well, they're animals, Bob. Do you not accept that they're animals? ...
They have a nervous system. Do you dispute that? This is the anti-science view here?
NOVAK: Here's a quote from Tillman Hammonds, he is a breeder in Oklahoma. He says, "That is what they are bred for," -- that is cockfighting -- "Why, I've bred them for 40 years -- their gameness and fighting ability."
That is their only purpose on earth, is to fight. That's what they are bred for.
PACELLE: You could say that about pit bulls. You could justify dogfighting with the exact same arguments. Is it OK to set two dogs and have them engage in a three-hour fight, to tear each other to death just for amusement and illegal gambling?
NOVAK: What would you do with the animals?
PACELLE: They're being bred for the specific purpose of injuring and maiming each other for human amusement.
NOVAK: What is wrong with that? They're animals.
PACELLE: Animals matter. We have 50 anti-cruelty statutes in this country.
NOVAK: That's the problem with this country.
PACELLE: Well, I don't think so.
CARVILLE: What's the problem with this country? Anti-cruelty statutes?
NOVAK: Too many -- that's right.
PACELLE: This is incredible. This is mind-boggling.
CARVILLE: America needs more cruelty. That's the one thing that people have to have. Kids need more cruelty. They need to learn about cruelty, right?
PACELLE: You know, (there is a) big link between animal cruelty and human violence. People who perpetrate acts of animal cruelty when they're young often graduate into serial killers. Look at all the backgrounds of every serial killer; you'll see each one of them had animal cruelty as part of their own background. It's true. Look it up.
CARVILLE: I'm not saying you're not right, I just need convincing on that.
PACELLE: I'm not saying every cockfighter is going to be a serial killer, I'm saying that (it is) cruelty to animals ...
NOVAK: What do you think of the people who are going to eat their turkey on Thanksgiving Day? Do you think that's animal cruelty? I mean, do you know how they kill those turkeys?
PACELLE: No, it is not a malicious act, Bob. Except for perhaps in your case, you might enjoy maliciously killing one of these turkeys for food.
NOVAK: That's right. I really hate turkeys.
PACELLE: Yeah, apparently you do.
NOVAK: I eat them up, too.
PACELLE: Most people do it because that's what's put in front of them. But most people should think about these issues and, you know, shouldn't denigrate an issue because it's an animal.