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From: Todd Weiler
To: Sen. Weiler, T.,
Subject: Re: Equal rights
Date: 2014-01-28T19:01:53Z
PS -- the bill is now SB 112 first substitute. 

Todd Weiler

On Jan 28, 2014, at 10:36 AM, "Jeremy Hancock" <jdkhancock@gmail.com> wrote:


I am highly concerned about Senate Bill 112S01 regarding Gamefowl Fighting 
Amendments sponsored by Senator Gene Davis. A similar version of this bill, both 
versions make cockfighting a felony,  was soundly defeated in the Utah House of 
Representatives in 2013.  In addition to agreeing with many Representative's 
reasoning to reject this idea based on gun rights and jail and/or prison 
overcrowding, there are many sound reasons to not only reject laws targeting the 
gamefowl community, but to embrace the policy potential of legalizing 
cockfighting altogether.

Felony bill advocates base their argument on the assertions that cockfighting is 
cruel and driven by the criminal element and gambling stereotype.  Both of these 
assertions are false. Sound research and logic dictates a policy of legalization 
based on the idea that cockfighting is less egregious than similar activities 
that are completely protected in the state of Utah. 

First, the end result of a felony bill negatively impacts gun rights and results 
in institutional overcrowding.  Being labeled a felon bars future legal gun 
ownership, weakening 2nd Amendment rights in Utah.  Also, felons are sent to 
jail and/or prison. Adding non-violent inmates to an already overcrowded system 
further strains resources and facilities. These arguments were advanced and 
endorsed by Representatives in Utah as justification to defeat similar 
legislation in 2013. (See Salt LakeTribune, January 27, 2013)

Second, cockfighting does not represent cruelty to animals.  There are many 
legally protected activities arguably more brutal than cockfighting.  
Policymakers should be bound by 14th Amendment requirements to provide equal 
protection under the laws of Utah. Commercial slaughter is far more brutal than 
cockfighting. Poultry are excluded from the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958, live 
considerably shorter lives than gamefowl, and even in the best conditions have 
horrific qualities of life compared to a highly prized gamefowl. Moreover, the 
sport of hunting is legally protected in Utah, even though the prey has no 
choice, and even though they are known to suffer.m Many times game are raised in 
captivity and released exclusively for private hunts.  Comparatively, gamefowl 
live long lives, in relative luxury, before they are harvested through the 
tradition of cockfighting. Certainly the only differences between these legally 
protected activities and cockfighting is a matter of taste, which is not a 
viable policy justifying the hypocritical and unjust application of the law

Importantly, the same forces driving anti-cockfighting nationwide would 
ultimately like to see an end to all animal use activities, even those currently 
protected. For example, The Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane 
Society, has been quoted as saying; "If we could shut down all sport hunting in 
a moment, we would." (Associated Press, Dec 30, 1991).  "Our goal is to get 
sport hunting in the same category as cock fighting and dog fighting. Our 
opponents say hunting is a tradition. We say traditions can change" (Bozeman 
(MT) Daily Chronicle, October 8, 1991).  "We are going to use the ballot box and 
the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States ... We will take 
it species by species until all hunting is stopped....state by state. (Full Cry 
Magazine, October 1, 1990).  

Policymakers should consider the philosophical end-games of advocates when 
making decisions.  I believe that these goals and philosophies are completely 
inconsistent with the philosophies and policy schematic of this legislature and 
the people of Utah. Imagine the billions of dollars and impact to the economy if 
sport hunting were abolished in Utah. Then Imagine the additional revenue that 
could be generated from a legal and regulated cockfighting system in Utah. 

Third, the legality of falconry in Utah is an on-point justification for the 
legalization of cockfighting.  As defined by Utah statute,

"Falconry" means, for the purposes of this rule, caring for and training raptors 
for pursuit of wild game, and hunting wild game with raptors. Falconry includes 
the taking of raptors from the wild to use in the sport of falconry; and caring 
for, training, and transporting raptors held for falconry."

The law condones pitting predator birds against prey birds and smaller pest 
animals as a spectator sport. According to falconry experts, what many don't 
understand is that the falconer doesn't allow the falcon to to kill the prey, 
only viciously wound it. The falconer must perform the kill or the conditioned 
appetite control cycle fails and the falcon would not return.  

"The falconer watches the raptor just as carefully. Once the bird has made a 
kill it will not carry it back to the falconer, as is widely believed. So it is 
vital that the falconer is on the spot when the quarry is brought down."

"If all goes well and the falconer is nearby when the bird makes its kill, he or 
she gives the raptor a reward of food and removes the kill. The reward will be a 
small amount ­ a tidbit ­ so the bird will remain hungry and eager to hunt 
again. This strategy also reinforces the idea that the falconer is the bird¹s 
sole source of food. Only when the bird is returned to its home base will it be 
allowed a real meal."

(See wingmasters.net, Julie Anne Collier and Jim Parks, raptor education 
specialists licensed in raptor rehabilitation, Massachusetts)

This means that falconry, by definition, prolongs suffering and death, the legal 
definition advanced as cruelty by opponents of cockfighting. And remember, 
falconry is protected largely due to its historical and traditional value dating 
back thousands of years. The tradition of Cockfighting was incontrovertibly 
engrained in the culture of America and even embraced by the Founding Fathers as 
a matter of course. (See Oklahoma Historical Society) Cockfighting certainly 
deserves the same protection as falconry in Utah.  Indeed, amending falconry 
statutes in Utah to accommodate gamefowl would be an efficient mechanism to 
protect this important rights base in Utah. 

Fourth, specious assertions that cockfighting promotes gambling and a criminal 
element are patently false.  The only comprehensive study concerning 
game-cocking in America proves that "people engaged in this recreational form 
are basically conservative, highly concerned with health and outdoor life, 
strongly patriotic and strongly in favor of obeying laws and preservation of 
public order."  (Professor William C. Capel, Clemson University and Professor 
Clifton Bryant, VA Poly-technical Institute and State University, AMERICAN 

Also, gambling issues addressed within the context of regulation would be a 
superior alternative to embracing unconstitutional policies based on the 
non-unique issue of illegal gambling on sporting activities.  Remember, billions 
of dollars are illegally wagered on legal sporting events every year. This fact 
has not led to the abolition of football, for example.  If there is any 
legitimacy to the claims of illegal gambling and a criminal element related to 
cockfighting, then those claims are made worse by driving the activity 
underground where it remains hidden from public scrutiny and potential 
regulation.  The majority of cock-fighters are patriotic and law abiding 
citizens.  The arbitrary legislative targeting of cockfighting only risks 
turning ethical US citizens into felons and leaves the sport vulnerable to the 
criminal element because many law abiding citizens are being driven out of the 

The Utah Senate plays a critical role in defining and establishing the rights 
base of Utah citizens.  The courts have clearly placed gamefowl policy in the 
hands of the legislature.  The freedoms of thousands of individuals and millions 
of dollars in potential revenue rest on this honorable institution's decisions. 
State legislatures nationwide have asserted themselves to define a unique rights 
base for the citizens of their state. Utah should assert itself and eliminate 
the hypocritical and arguably unconstitutional practice of targeting 

Jeremy Hancock   You can responded to this at jdkhancock@gmail.com 
Sent from my iPhone