AGDN Letter to Utah Legislature

Repost

Carefully read and educate yourself on your individual liberty and human rights.

– Gameness til the End

HELP UTAH CEMENT VICTORY- URGE THE STATE SENATE TO REJECT ANY FORM OF ANTI-COCKFIGHTING LAWS.

AGDN LEGISLATIVE ACTION: 2/19/2014 – agdnnational@gmail.com

  1. ALTHOUGH STOPPING THE ATTEMPT AT FIRST TIME FELONY STATUS IS AN IMPORTANT VICTORY, IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO ENSURE THAT EVEN A GRADUATED SENTENCE TO A 2nd or 3rd STRIKE FELONY SHOULD BE REJECTED OUTRIGHT.
  2. FEEL FREE TO WRITE UTAH SENATORS A LETTER, OR COPY AND PASTE THE LETTER BELOW, URGING THEM TO REJECT EVEN AN AMENDED FORM OF SB 112.
  3. Contact Info For Utah Senators Can Be Found Here: http://le.utah.gov/asp/roster/roster.asp
  4. CALLING IS ALSO VERY EFFECTIVE SO IT IS ENCOURAGED TO PICK UP THE PHONE AS WELL!

FORM LETTER: FEEL FREE TO COPY AND PASTE INTO AN EMAIL!

Senator,

Although I am pleased that the Senate has not made a decision based on misinformation, forcing SB 112 to be circled and amended to reflect a gradient sentencing structure like Idaho, I am still strongly in objection to any law attaching felony status to cockfighting, even on subsequent offenses. Revelations made during the Senate Floor Debate on February 18, 2014 reveals that the issue of cockfighting, according to law enforcement consulted statewide is “negligible to nonexistent.” Felony sentencing for cockfighting at any level is resource intensive and cannot be justified based on a simple cost-benefit analysis test. There are many reasons advanced that justify the rejection of any anti-cockfighting laws in Utah.

Moreover, Senator Davis and other supporters are basing their assertions that cockfighting is cruel, and driven by the criminal element and gambling stereotype, without offering a single shred of documented evidence. Certainly law enforcement’s determination that the problem is “nonexistent” is far more persuasive than un evidenced assertions.

The biggest argument asserted by Senator Davis and supporters is simply not true. There is no proof that Utah will become a magnet for cockfighting from surrounding states. There are zero examples of arrests that would validate what amounts to fear mongering and sensationalism. Remember, Senator Davis’ has already misinformed this legislature by claiming that Utah is the only misdemeanor state in the west. We all now know that this was misleading and not factual. In fact, Senator Davis’ assertions lack complete credibility. Senator Davis admitted that his research was incomplete and he was incapable of answering basic questions related to surrounding state policies. Senator Davis’ assertions should be discounted outright. His information is being provided by biased sources and has been proven to be specious at best.

INDEPENDENT REASONS TO REJECT SB 112 IN ANY FORM.

First, why other states should dictate Utah policy? Is Utah going to legalize Marijuana like some states in the West have done? Each state is unique and legislates specific to the realities and environment of the people within that state. Utah, and every state, is supposed to be unique and specific. There is no proof that Utah is a magnet for surrounding state cockfighting and the evidence being advanced is highly suspect, at best.

Second, Prison overcrowding concerns are still applicable to graduated sentencing. The end result of a felony bill at any level would be institutional overcrowding. Felons are sent to jail and/or prison and adding non-violent inmates to an already overcrowded system further strains resources and facilities. In fact, Senator Madsen confirmed the validity of the overcrowding argument based on conversations he has had with the Department of Corrections. According to The Center for Economic and Policy Research, (June 2010) felony laws are the main cause of prison overcrowding and costs state and local governments billions in revenue annually. And there are still the very real concerns of early release and threats to public safety.

Third, 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 assertion that gamefowl are forced to fight is disputed by genetic research. It is impossible to force a gamecock to fight. Geneticist Dr. Edsel J. Bixler (GENETICS AND AGGRESSION OF THE ROOSTER) recently explained that gamecocks fight instinctually because they are genetically predisposed to be aggressive.

Fourth, it is completely false that gamecocks are not harvested. Many gamecocks are consumed as food and the feathers are highly prized for fly fishing and decoration. And remember, a legal industry would ensure that gamecock harvest is regulated and monitored correctly. Just because some hunters poach does not mean that hunting should be banned. It means it should be regulated. Senator Davis is attempting to legislate based on taste, ignoring the hypocrisy in his own statements. Remember that sport hunting and cockfighting are being targeted as cruel by the same political interest groups.

Fifth, the legality of falconry in Utah is an on-point justification for the legalization of cockfighting. Although many in the animal rights lobby condemn falconry as cruel, Utah law condones pitting predator birds against prey birds and smaller pest animals as a spectator sport. 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.

Fourth, specious assertions that cockfighting promotes gambling and a criminal element are patently false. This evidence has been completely ignored by Senator Davis, instead relying on hyperbole and zero substantiated data. 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, 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. Senator Madsen clearly understood that any criminal element that does exist was created by laws outlawing cockfighting. Senator Madsen questioned the Director of the HSU and confirmed that there is no documentation of a criminal element during an era of legality. Laws against cockfighting become a self-fulfilling prophecy at best. 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.

Although I am pleased that Senator Davis and other supporters of SB 112 were unsuccessful duping this honorable body into a first time felony state, I still urge you to reject any legislation with felony implications attached, even on a 2nd or 3rd offense. There are a laundry list of evidenced arguments that have been advanced and ignored by supporters of SB 112. Please honor the democratic process and hold both sides of this debate to evidenced and substantiated claims. Senator Davis has been caught misinforming the Utah legislature about felony status in surrounding states. Why would you not question every argument advanced and demand validation. Look beneath the surface and you will discover that not only should anti-cockfighting laws be rejected, but cockfighting ought to be a legally protected activity in Utah.

Sincerely,

CONTACT UTAH SENATORS AND ASK THEM TO VOTE NO ON SB112S01-GAMECOCK FIGHTING AMENDMENTS

AGDN LEGISLATIVE ACTON-2/10/2014 – agdnnational@gmail.com

  1. IF YOU AGREE WITH THE LETTER BELOW PLEASE CALL YOUR UTAH SENATOR AND ASK THEM TO VOTE NO ON SB112S01.
  2. PLEASE WRITE A LETTER, OR FEEL FREE TO COPY AND PASTE THE LETTER PROVIDED, TO YOUR UTAH SENATOR. THEIR NUMBERS AND EMAIL CAN BE FOUND HERE: http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp

FORM LETTER-FEEL FREE TO CUT AND PASTE!

Senator,

I am writing to urge you to reject Senate Bill 112S01 regarding Gamefowl Fighting Amendments sponsored by Senator Gene Davis. Indeed, the testimony given in support of SB 112S01 during the public hearing February 7th was misleading, completely unsubstantiated by documented fact, and non-responsive to well evidenced oppositional testimony.

Both Senator Davis and the HSU based their assertions that cockfighting is cruel, and driven by the criminal element and gambling stereotype, without offering a single shred of documented evidence. Both of these assertions are false. Sound research and logic were offered that disputed these claims that were based on no evidence and stereotype driven anecdotal stories.

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 and adding non-violent inmates to an already overcrowded system further strains resources and facilities. These arguments were advanced and went completely unanswered by the Humane Society of Utah or Senator Davis. In fact, Senator Madsen confirmed the validity of the overcrowding argument based on conversations he has had with the Department of Corrections.

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.

Again, these articulate refutations were ignored by the Humane Society of Utah and Senator Davis. No analysis on the concept of equal protection was offered by SB 112S01 supporters. Senator Davis did assert that hunting for trophies and food were examples of harvest, not cruelty. Although I agree with the statement that hunting and slaughter are not cruel, they are equally as brutal. Also, it is completely false that gamecocks are not harvested. Many gamecocks are consumed as food and the feathers are highly prized for fly fishing and decoration. And remember, a legal industry would ensure that gamecock harvest is regulated and monitored correctly. Just because some hunters poach does not mean that hunting should be banned. It means it should be regulated. Senator Davis is attempting to legislate based on taste, ignoring the hypocrisy in his own statements. Remember that sport hunting and cockfighting are being targeted as cruel by the same political interest groups.

It is fact that 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 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).

The Director of the Humane Society of Utah attempted to separate the HSU from these statements made by the Humane Society of the United States, saying that they have never opposed hunting and have never advocated hunting restrictions. But they omitted the critical connection between the HSU and HSUS specifically regarding SB112. The HSU released a statement on 1/7/2014 titled “SB 112 GAMEFOWL FIGHTING AMENDMENTS” that prove the HSU and HSUS agendas are the same. The HSU states, “We are not defeated, however, and during the 2014 session of the Utah State legislature we will revisit the Game Fowl Fighting Amendments bill with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to make cockfighting a felony in the state of Utah.” The HSU knows they would lose all support if they openly opposed hunting. But they cannot deny they are affiliated and cooperative with the HSUS and it’s agenda. The HSU certainly doesn’t support pro-hunting legislation. The HSU web page is also littered with links and documents released by the HSUS solidifying the fact that the HSU endorses and pushes the HSUS agenda. And make no mistake, the HSUS does want to eliminate sport hunting in every state, even Utah. This connection between the HSU and HSUS cannot be ignored.

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. 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.

Realize that the animal rights lobby considers Falconry to be cruel and analogous to cockfighting. The Press of Atlantic City reported, “”Since the days of gun-hunting and abundant farming, falconry is now mainly sport. For that reason, some think it should be stopped. Organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, have held rallies and protests against falconry. “These people get off on sending an animal out and watching it kill another animal,” said Stephanie Boyles, a wildlife biologist for PETA. “It’s kind of sadistic.” Animal-rights activists compare falconry to dog fighting and cockfighting, both of which are illegal. They think that confining a wild animal is wrong and that hunting for entertainment is unethical. “We consider falconry a blood sport,” Boyles said. The differences between these two activities are merely a matter of taste.

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) This evidence was completely ignored by Senator Davis and the HSU instead relying on hyperbole and zero substantiated date.

Also, 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. Senator Madsen clearly understood that any criminal element that does exist was created by laws outlawing cockfighting. Senator Madsen questioned the Director of the HSU and confirmed that there is no documentation of a criminal element during an era of legality. Laws against cockfighting become a self-fulfilling prophecy at best. 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.

Next, I would like to address the assertions made by Senator Davis and Senator Thatcher that everyone that showed up to a public hearing to exercise their protected right to political expression was somehow admitting to misdemeanor criminal activity. This assertion is false. And it is also offensive to the individuals that want to use the democratic process to tell their story. Most in the gamefowl community have been relegated to merely breeding gamefowl to preserve the species in hopes that this tradition will once again be legal and celebrated. By your own words, in response to prison overcrowding, you stated that there are minimal cockfighting arrests in Utah so it only stands to reason that there is minimal activity. Incidentally, this also completely invalidates any credibility to the multi-state magnet assertions. Pure unsubstantiated subterfuge.

Indeed, the individual that testified as a concerned citizen stated, directly and unequivocally, that this political movement does not condone breaking the law. This class of people want to change the law to recapture a rights base once enjoyed. In fact, the gentleman that testified has zero involvement in the gamefowl community, other than the belief that everyday Americans that have been under-represented are no less important than any other group of persons.

Finally, the biggest argument asserted by Senator Davis and the HSU, that Utah will become a magnet for cockfighting from surrounding states, is both false and unsubstantiated. There are zero examples of arrests that would validate what amounts to fear mongering and sensationalism. Also, Senator Davis’ claim that Utah is the only misdemeanor state in the west is misleading and not exactly factual.

For example, Idaho code reads, “Every person who participates in a public or private display of combat between two (2) or more gamecocks in which the fighting, killing, maiming or injuring of gamecocks is a significant feature is guilty of a misdemeanor” (IDAHO CODE, TITLE 25, ANIMALS, CHAPTER 35, ANIMAL CARE 25-3506. EXHIBITION OF COCKFIGHTS.). It is misleading to describe Idaho as a felony State without mentioning that cockfighting without particular circumstances like gambling are a misdemeanor.

California is another example. California law says, “any person who aids or abets the fighting or worrying of any cock is guilty of a misdemeanor” (CA PENAL § 597b) California law does not even consider a felony conviction for cockfighting until the second conviction, and even then a misdemeanor conviction is also an option. Look deeper. New Mexico is also a misdemeanor state on the first offense. The argument that surrounding states are all straight felony status states is misleading and irresponsible and not a solid justification for designating cockfighting a felony in Utah.

Independent of what other laws in surrounding states may be, it is important to ask why other states should dictate Utah policy? Is Utah going to legalize Marijuana like some states in the West have done? Each state is unique and legislates specific to the realities and environment of the people within that state. Utah, and every state, is supposed to be unique.

The freedoms of thousands of individuals rest on this honorable institution’s decisions. Certainly as a legislator you should demand that Senator Davis and the HSU provide evidenced claims to their own statements and answers to the far more prepared and articulated opposition. 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.

Sincerely,

LETTER TO UTAH SENATOR THATCHER

AGDN LEGISLATIVE ACTION: 2/9/2014 – agdnnational@gmail.com

If you agree with the following response to Utah Senator Thatcher’s statements at the Public Hearing on SB 112 on 2/7/2014, feel free to copy and paste the response into an email an send it to Senator Thatcher at:
dthatcher@le.utah.gov

FORM LETTER-FEEL FREE TO CUT AND PASTE!

Senator Thatcher,

I wanted to take the time to thank you for your perspective during the public hearing on SB 112S01 that occurred on Friday, February 7, 2014. I would also like to take the time to address a few concerns I have with your statements.

First, it was very evident by your reaction that it is upsetting to consider the similarities between gamefowl fighting and falconry. The point is that many animal rights activists categorize falconry and cockfighting as cruel blood sports and want to see an end to falconry as well. Indeed, The Press of Atlantic City reported:

“Since the days of gun-hunting and abundant farming, falconry is now mainly sport. For that reason, some think it should be stopped. Organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, have held rallies and protests against falconry. “These people get off on sending an animal out and watching it kill another animal,” said Stephanie Boyles, a wildlife biologist for PETA. “It’s kind of sadistic.” Animal-rights activists compare falconry to dog fighting and cockfighting, both of which are illegal. They think that confining a wild animal is wrong and that hunting for entertainment is unethical. “We consider falconry a blood sport,” Boyles said.

You find cockfighting in bad taste so you are willing to take the extraordinary measure of designating an activity as a felony when that activity ought to be protected. You embrace a blatantly hypocritical policy perspective that condemns game-cocking but protects a practitioner of a blood sport that is every bit as brutal. I don’t think that falconry is cruel or sadistic. And I would fight the opposition if they wanted to make falconry a felony as well. But that is because I have my eyes wide open and understand that we are all in a battle to preserve important American traditions.

Second, I would like to address the assertions you made that everyone that showed up to a public hearing to exercise their protected right to political expression was somehow admitting to misdemeanor criminal activity. This assertion is false. And it is also offensive to the individuals that want to use the democratic process to tell their story. Most in the gamefowl community have been relegated to merely breeding gamefowl to preserve the species in hopes that this tradition will once again be legal and celebrated. In response to prison overcrowding, it was stated that there are minimal cockfighting arrests in Utah so it only stands to reason that there is minimal activity. Incidentally, this also completely invalidates any credibility to the multi-state magnet assertions. Pure unsubstantiated subterfuge.

Indeed, the individual that testified as a concerned citizen stated, directly and unequivocally, that this political movement does not condone breaking the law. This class of people want to change the law to recapture a rights base once enjoyed. In fact, the gentleman that testified has zero involvement in the gamefowl community, other than the belief that everyday Americans that have been under-represented are no less important than any other group of persons.

Standing up and speaking against a philosophy and end game of those that target rural activities like gamefowl fighting and falconry ought to be the responsibility of anyone that values preserving important American traditions. I urge you to open your mind and realize that you have much more in common with the gamefowl community than you have differences.

Animal rights activists and cockfighting advocates understand this. In fact, the illegality of cockfighting is already being used as a justification to ban falconry. How long will it be before Falconers are labeled cruel and criminal and there is pending legislation to ban the sport? Hopefully there will be others that will not write you off and stereotype you because you are being labeled sadistic by the same people that have nearly extinguished the important American tradition of cockfighting.

Sincerely,




poultry gamefowl chicken gamecock

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