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“Chicken Boxing,” Cockfighting, and the Promise of a Fighting Chicken in Every Pot

Photo by Roman Köhler

Photo by Roman Köhler

On April 7, the Louisiana Senate passed legislation designed to close loopholes in the state’s 2008 cockfighting ban. If passed by the state House of Representatives and signed by the governor, the law would broaden the definition of “chicken” to include “any … gamefowl, rooster, or other bird.” It would also allow law-enforcement officials to use cockfighting paraphernalia as evidence in criminal prosecutions and make a first offense a felony, in keeping with the state’s dogfighting-related laws.

The legislation — Louisiana Senate Bill No. 523 — was introduced by state Sen. Jean-Paul Morrell and roundly criticized by his colleague, state Sen. Elbert Guillory, during a Judiciary C Committee hearing — video of which can be downloaded by following a link at the bottom of this Times-Picayune article by Emily Lane, who followed that April 1 report with this article published on April 7.

“I represent a rural area where people raise a lot of chickens, including chickens that are 15th, 20th generation fighting birds that are exported legitimately and legally to other nations,” Guillory said during the above-mentioned hearing. “I’m concerned that this law would criminalize that legal operation.”

Morrell was having none of it, telling Guillory that “it is not legal to raise fighting chickens for any purpose.”

So, Guillory tried another approach: having “chicken boxing” exempted from the proposed law.

“Dueling is a blood sport, two men fighting each other with swords is a blood sport,” Guillory said during the committee hearing. “It is illegal. … Boxing, two men boxing each other with boxing gloves on, can box each other as a sport. That is legal. … It’s the same distinction between chicken boxing and cockfighting.”

That didn’t fly with Morrell, either.

“If gladiatorial combat were still legal, that would be the analogy,” Morrell said, pointing out (in his own words) that the absence of choice is exploitation.

“I know that sometimes we get mired in what is culturally acceptable in the State of Louisiana,” Morrell reasoned. “And we get … mired up in trying to protect what is unique to our culture. But sometimes those things are not good.”

He went on to say, “It was not a badge of honor for us to be one of the last states in the United States to ban cockfighting. … When we encourage and allow things that are … widely viewed as barbaric and backwards behavior, cultural or not, that is not something that we want to be renowned for.”

Morrell’s legislation was reported favorably out of committee on April 1 and was passed by the full Senate on April 7, but not before Guillory tried unsuccessfully to add an amendment to the bill that would have exempted so-called “chicken boxing.”

During the April 1 committee hearing, a man (I use that term very loosely) named James Demoruelle boasted, “I’ve been a cockfighter for 53 years,” and declared that while “at this time I don’t own any game chickens,” he is hereby “repossessing his rights to fight my chickens.”

“God put the gameness in the chicken,” Demoruelle claimed, ignorantly. “Not man.”

Demoruelle’s argument, not surprisingly, is that animals are property and the government’s got no right to tell him what he can and can’t do with his property.

“Cockfighting is how we’ve harvested the gamecock for over 3,000 years,” is how he put it.

Which bring us to today, and to the acknowledgement that some humans are fighting (or is it boxing?) to turn our calendars back to the dark ages. Unevolved creatures like Demoruelle don’t like that they’ve been dragged from the primordial ooze and into the 21st century. And they’re making every effort to drag us all back into that fetid mire.

On the same day that Morrell’s bill was passed by the Louisiana Senate, I wrote about Matt Bevin, a Tea Party-affiliated Republican who’s hoping to oust U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in Kentucky’s May 20 Republican primary election. Bevin attended and spoke at a March 29 cockfighting-legalization rally that appeared on his schedule as a “states’ rights rally.”

The event at which Bevin spoke was organized by a gang of bloodthirsty thugs called the American Gamefowl Defense Network, whose Facebook page indicates that “the American Gamefowl Defense Network, a project sponsored by the nonprofit Americans Watching Washington, is dedicated to legalizing cockfighting through the democratic process and the rights of expression and peaceful assembly.”

Cretins like Demoruelle — who identified himself at the April 1 Judiciary C Committee hearing as an American Game Fowl Society-certified “poultry judge” — are an organized bunch of subhumans who’re looking for a few sympathetic legislators who’ll work to make things even worse for animals than they already are. They whine about their rights being infringed upon by an overreaching government and then turn around and beg pandering elected officials and campaigning politicians to get involved. They insist that animals are property and demand the freedom to use that property as they see fit. They want permission to come out from their underground killing floors to exercise their psychopathic behavior on Main Street, alongside more mainstream savagery.

During the Judiciary C Committee hearing, Demoruelle cited a U.S. Supreme Court case called City of Cuyahoga Falls v. Buckeye Community Hope Foundation and said “the Supreme Court ruled the right to ownership of property includes the inherent right to use … one’s property.”

After boasting that “cockfighting is how we’ve harvested the gamecock for over 3,000 years,” Demoruelle told the committee that “animals … are harvested in different ways. Some … cattle we slaughter into steaks and hamburger and some we hook up to milk machines.”

Louisiana state Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb voted in favor of Morrell’s bill on April 7. On April 1, she was the legislator who made the motion to report the bill, favorably, out of committee, before Guillory could move to have the thing temporarily shelved.

While we should applaud Morrell for his efforts and be glad that his bill has been approved by the Louisiana Senate and will next be taken up by the state House of Representatives’ Administration of Criminal Justice Committee, we should take this opportunity to point out to Morrell, Dorsey-Colomb, and other well-meaning legislators that while they’re working to broaden current Louisiana law to close easily worked-around loopholes, they also ought to work on broadening their own perspectives.

In voicing her support for Morrell’s legislation at the Judiciary C Committee hearing, Dorsey-Colomb pointed out that despite Louisiana’s ban on cockfighting, people are still forcing birds to engage in brutal fights to the death.

“They’re still doing the things that this law prohibits them from doing,” she said. “So, if we can do anything to stop that … I’m all for it. I think that it needs to be stopped, and I’d much rather have people raising chickens so that … we can eat good.”

Needless to say, the promise of a fighting chicken in every pot is not exactly a future the animals can look forward to.

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