To: Sen. Weiler, T.,
Subject: Re: Equal rights
PS -- the bill is now SB 112 first substitute.
On Jan 28, 2014, at 10:36 AM, "Jeremy Hancock" <email@example.com> wrote:
Senator,I am highly concerned about Senate Bill 112S01 regarding Gamefowl FightingAmendments sponsored by Senator Gene Davis. A similar version of this bill, bothversions make cockfighting a felony, was soundly defeated in the Utah House ofRepresentatives in 2013. In addition to agreeing with many Representative'sreasoning to reject this idea based on gun rights and jail and/or prisonovercrowding, there are many sound reasons to not only reject laws targeting thegamefowl community, but to embrace the policy potential of legalizingcockfighting altogether.Felony bill advocates base their argument on the assertions that cockfighting iscruel and driven by the criminal element and gambling stereotype. Both of theseassertions are false. Sound research and logic dictates a policy of legalizationbased on the idea that cockfighting is less egregious than similar activitiesthat are completely protected in the state of Utah.First, the end result of a felony bill negatively impacts gun rights and resultsin institutional overcrowding. Being labeled a felon bars future legal gunownership, weakening 2nd Amendment rights in Utah. Also, felons are sent tojail and/or prison. Adding non-violent inmates to an already overcrowded systemfurther strains resources and facilities. These arguments were advanced andendorsed by Representatives in Utah as justification to defeat similarlegislation in 2013. (See Salt LakeTribune, January 27, 2013)Second, cockfighting does not represent cruelty to animals. There are manylegally protected activities arguably more brutal than cockfighting.Policymakers should be bound by 14th Amendment requirements to provide equalprotection under the laws of Utah. Commercial slaughter is far more brutal thancockfighting. Poultry are excluded from the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958, liveconsiderably shorter lives than gamefowl, and even in the best conditions havehorrific qualities of life compared to a highly prized gamefowl. Moreover, thesport of hunting is legally protected in Utah, even though the prey has nochoice, and even though they are known to suffer.m Many times game are raised incaptivity and released exclusively for private hunts. Comparatively, gamefowllive long lives, in relative luxury, before they are harvested through thetradition of cockfighting. Certainly the only differences between these legallyprotected activities and cockfighting is a matter of taste, which is not aviable policy justifying the hypocritical and unjust application of the lawImportantly, the same forces driving anti-cockfighting nationwide wouldultimately like to see an end to all animal use activities, even those currentlyprotected. For example, The Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the HumaneSociety, has been quoted as saying; "If we could shut down all sport hunting ina moment, we would." (Associated Press, Dec 30, 1991). "Our goal is to getsport hunting in the same category as cock fighting and dog fighting. Ouropponents 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 andthe democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States ... We will takeit species by species until all hunting is stopped....state by state. (Full CryMagazine, October 1, 1990).Policymakers should consider the philosophical end-games of advocates whenmaking decisions. I believe that these goals and philosophies are completelyinconsistent with the philosophies and policy schematic of this legislature andthe people of Utah. Imagine the billions of dollars and impact to the economy ifsport hunting were abolished in Utah. Then Imagine the additional revenue thatcould be generated from a legal and regulated cockfighting system in Utah.Third, the legality of falconry in Utah is an on-point justification for thelegalization of cockfighting. As defined by Utah statute,"Falconry" means, for the purposes of this rule, caring for and training raptorsfor pursuit of wild game, and hunting wild game with raptors. Falconry includesthe taking of raptors from the wild to use in the sport of falconry; and caringfor, training, and transporting raptors held for falconry."The law condones pitting predator birds against prey birds and smaller pestanimals as a spectator sport. According to falconry experts, what many don'tunderstand 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 conditionedappetite control cycle fails and the falcon would not return."The falconer watches the raptor just as carefully. Once the bird has made akill it will not carry it back to the falconer, as is widely believed. So it isvital 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 orshe gives the raptor a reward of food and removes the kill. The reward will be asmall amount a tidbit so the bird will remain hungry and eager to huntagain. This strategy also reinforces the idea that the falconer is the bird¹ssole source of food. Only when the bird is returned to its home base will it beallowed a real meal."(See wingmasters.net, Julie Anne Collier and Jim Parks, raptor educationspecialists licensed in raptor rehabilitation, Massachusetts)This means that falconry, by definition, prolongs suffering and death, the legaldefinition advanced as cruelty by opponents of cockfighting. And remember,falconry is protected largely due to its historical and traditional value datingback thousands of years. The tradition of Cockfighting was incontrovertiblyengrained in the culture of America and even embraced by the Founding Fathers asa matter of course. (See Oklahoma Historical Society) Cockfighting certainlydeserves the same protection as falconry in Utah. Indeed, amending falconrystatutes in Utah to accommodate gamefowl would be an efficient mechanism toprotect this important rights base in Utah.Fourth, specious assertions that cockfighting promotes gambling and a criminalelement are patently false. The only comprehensive study concerninggame-cocking in America proves that "people engaged in this recreational formare basically conservative, highly concerned with health and outdoor life,strongly patriotic and strongly in favor of obeying laws and preservation ofpublic order." (Professor William C. Capel, Clemson University and ProfessorClifton Bryant, VA Poly-technical Institute and State University, AMERICANCOCKERS: RESULTS FROM A NATIONAL SURVEY CONDUCTED IN 1974 THROUGH 1991)Also, gambling issues addressed within the context of regulation would be asuperior alternative to embracing unconstitutional policies based on thenon-unique issue of illegal gambling on sporting activities. Remember, billionsof dollars are illegally wagered on legal sporting events every year. This facthas not led to the abolition of football, for example. If there is anylegitimacy to the claims of illegal gambling and a criminal element related tocockfighting, then those claims are made worse by driving the activityunderground where it remains hidden from public scrutiny and potentialregulation. The majority of cock-fighters are patriotic and law abidingcitizens. The arbitrary legislative targeting of cockfighting only risksturning ethical US citizens into felons and leaves the sport vulnerable to thecriminal element because many law abiding citizens are being driven out of thesport.The Utah Senate plays a critical role in defining and establishing the rightsbase of Utah citizens. The courts have clearly placed gamefowl policy in thehands of the legislature. The freedoms of thousands of individuals and millionsof dollars in potential revenue rest on this honorable institution's decisions.State legislatures nationwide have asserted themselves to define a unique rightsbase for the citizens of their state. Utah should assert itself and eliminatethe hypocritical and arguably unconstitutional practice of targetingcockfighting.Sincerely,Jeremy Hancock You can responded to this at firstname.lastname@example.orgSent from my iPhone