Write to the Utah State Senate…
Legalize Liberty! Legalize Cockfighting!
Repeal the Cockfighting Ban!
Cockfighting is a personal decision, not a legal debate!
– Gameness til the End
The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Feb 14 2014 02:12 pm
A bill making it a felony to engage in cockfighting in Utah moved closer to passage, despite objections from some senators concerned about putting another felony crime on the books.
Currently, cockfighting is a misdemeanor in Utah. Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, is seeking to make it a third-degree felony, bringing it in line with surrounding states.
But some, like Sen. Allen Christensen, R-Ogden, said that bird-fights have “gone on for thousands of years,” and making it a felony won’t change it.
He said he could imagine two inmates in prison. “One says, ‘I murdered my wife what did you do?’” Christensen said. “’I let my chicken fight with a neighbor’s chicken.’”
Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said that, with other states making it a felony, Utah has become a magnet for cockfighting, which he said is not the kind of economic development Utah wants.
Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain, said the state already locks up too many people and has overburdened its court and prison system. Adding another law just drives the act into the shadows.
“Only government can create a black market and it empowers the cartels,” said Madsen.
Senators voted 16-10 to move the bill to a final vote, likely next week. A similar bill passed the Senate last year, but did not make it through the House.
Utah State Senator Allen M. Christensen
Utah State Senator Mark B. Madsen
Utah State Senator Lyle W. Hillyard
|1||Salt Lake||Robles, Luz (D)
Minority Caucus Manager
|1004 N MORTON DR
SALT LAKE CITY, UT 84116
|2||Salt Lake||Dabakis, Jim (D)
|54 B STREET
SALT LAKE CITY, UT 84103
|3||Salt Lake||Davis, Gene (D)
|865 PARKWAY AVE
SALT LAKE CITY, UT 84106
|4||Salt Lake||Jones, Patricia W. (D)
Assistant Minority Whip
|4571 SYCAMORE DR
SALT LAKE CITY, UT 84117
|5||Salt Lake||Mayne, Karen (D)
|5044 W BANNOCK CIR
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT 84120
|6||Salt Lake||Harper, Wayne A. (R)
|2094 SURREY CIR
TAYLORSVILLE, UT 84129
|7||Utah||Henderson, Deidre M. (R)
|462 RIVER CROSS RD
SPANISH FORK, UT 84660
|8||Salt Lake||Shiozawa, Brian E. (R)
|3177 FORT UNION BLVD
SALT LAKE CITY, UT 84121
|9||Salt Lake||Niederhauser, Wayne L. (R)
|3182 E GRANITE WOODS LN
SANDY, UT 84092
|10||Salt Lake||Osmond, Aaron (R)
|11466 COUNTRY KNOLL ROAD
SOUTH JORDAN, UT 84095
|Stephenson, Howard A. (R)
|1038 E 13590 S
DRAPER, UT 84020
|Thatcher, Daniel W. (R)
|6352 W CITY VISTAS WAY
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT 84128
|Madsen, Mark B. (R)
|1304 NORTH REDWOOD ROAD #321
SARATOGA SPRINGS, UT 84045
|14||Utah||Valentine, John L. (R)
|857 E 970 N
OREM, UT 84097
|15||Utah||Dayton, Margaret (R)
|97 W WESTVIEW DR
OREM, UT 84058
|Bramble, Curtis S. (R)
|3663 N 870 E
PROVO, UT 84604
|Knudson, Peter C. (R)
Assistant Majority Whip
|1209 MICHELLE DR
BRIGHAM CITY, UT 84302
|Reid, Stuart C. (R)
|2155 GRANT AVE #125
OGDEN, UT 84401
|Christensen, Allen M. (R)
|1233 E 2250 N
NORTH OGDEN, UT 84414
|Jenkins, Scott K. (R)
|4385 W 1975 N
PLAIN CITY, UT 84404
|21||Davis||Stevenson, Jerry W. (R)
|466 S 1700 W
LAYTON, UT 84041
|22||Davis||Adams, J. Stuart (R)
|3271 E 1875 N
LAYTON, UT 84040
|Weiler, Todd (R)
|1248 W 1900 S
WOODS CROSS, UT 84087
|Okerlund, Ralph (R)
|248 S 500 W
MONROE, UT 84754
|Hillyard, Lyle W. (R)
|595 S RIVERWOODS PARKWAY STE 100
LOGAN, UT 84321
|Van Tassell, Kevin T. (R)
|3424 W 1500 N
VERNAL, UT 84078
|Hinkins, David P. (R)
|P.O. BOX 485
ORANGEVILLE, UT 84537
|Vickers, Evan J. (R)
|2166 N COBBLE CREEK DR
CEDAR CITY, UT 84721
|29||Washington||Urquhart, Stephen H. (R)
|634 E 1100 S
ST GEORGE, UT 84790
AGDN Joshua Christensen’s Letter to Utah Senate
From: (UT State Senator) Lyle Hillyard
To: (UT State Senator) Lyle Hillyard,
Subject: FW: Gene Davis gamefowl fighting amendments
Date: 1/28/2014 10:58:12 AM
From: Josh Christensen
Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 8:30 AM
To: Lyle Hillyard
Subject: Gene Davis gamefowl fighting amendments
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. 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 bird’s 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 COCKERS: RESULTS FROM A NATIONAL SURVEY CONDUCTED IN 1974 THROUGH 1991)
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 sport.
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 cockfighting.