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Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.
Sunday, January 18, 2004
I have created a petition to address this issue. If you agree that this is wrong, please take the time to sign it and tell everyone you know about it.
The petition can be accessed here: http://www.petitiononline.com/NoSB835/petition.html Thank you all for caring.
Yesterday I read a very disturbing article about cockfighting that I want to address today. There is a lot more to this issue than just the inherent cruelty to the animals involved in this "sport."
First off, for those of you who may not have seen the article, it informs us that:
Gamecock breeders in Oklahoma say they expect up to
10,000 cockfighting supporters at a Capitol rally in February.
They are hoping a major rally at the start of the legislative session
will encourage lawmakers to vote in favor of measures that would help
Senate Bill 835 would reduce cockfighting penalties from a felony to
Another Senate bill could suspend the ban on cockfighting state
voters approved last year. In its place could be a county-by-county
I was so upset after reading this that I immediately wrote a post in my Yahoo group to alert everyone there to this potential tragedy. This is something that the voters decided on just a year ago, and already the individuals that profit from this violent "sport" are trying to undo that important piece of legislation. And, it is important. It is important because there is a lot more to the scourge of cockfighting than all the blood, injury, suffering, and death to the chickens.
I have known personally several people that were involved in this "bloodsport." I even went to one of the fights to see what it was all about for myself. I was amazed at the amount of money involved and the level of organization displayed. Up around Sallisaw and Poteau, OK this is a big "sport."
And, for the people I knew (at the very least), it also served as a way to launder drug money and raise sales. There is a whole lot more going on at these cockfights than just the cockfighting, although that in itself is bad enough. And speaks volumes about the sort of person that can enjoy such a bloody, violent act and perceive it as entertainment.
I have talked a little about this before in earlier entries, but did not go into a lot of detail about what all goes on behind the scenes with this issue. The places where this was going on are less than 100 miles from where I live. It was a regular weekly thing at certain times of the year. Every once in a while they would hold a big tournament that could last as long as a week. These would attract people from all over the country. And, these people, for the most part, are not what we would term "upstanding members of society." Actually, most of them are quite violent themselves. Perhaps this is because of the fact that many of them are involved in the drug trade.
They use the drugs on the birds almost as much as they do on themselves. Of course, they do this to "pump up" the rooster and make him more aggressive. This, of course, has the same effect on people, making them more likely to commit violent acts.
I talked before about the fact that there were some people who worked at the plant that were involved in this. One of these guys was known to me only by his first name of Jeff. He worked at the plant for about a year or so around 2001. He told me that he had to take a full-time job as part of his probation. He said he was on probation for possession of drugs, but he didn't say what drugs. He was also in trouble for beating up his wife.
Every time that Jeff went to one of these events, he took with him a couple of 8-balls of crystal meth. He would sell it while he was at the fight. His girlfriend's father owned the place up there at Sallisaw. I went up there with Jeff one weekend with him. I was surprised at how big it was.
What also surprised me was that there was nothing secretive about it. The atmosphere was like that of going to a ball-game. I was sitting there, looking around while sitting at a beer concession stand, and noticed that there were guys walking around openly selling packets of crystal meth right there in front of everyone. It was no big thing. No one seemed to care or find it the slightest bit odd. I got real paranoid, with visions of cops rushing the place and people yelling, "RAID!" But, when I asked Jeff about it, he told me not to worry because the cops didn't ever come out there to mess with them. Nobody said so explicitly, but I was left with the impression that someone had paid off the authorities to ensure this.
They had their own security out there, and I didn't see any people fighting each other, but then I guess they didn't much feel the need to commit the violence themselves at that time, since they were about to get their "fix" for it, anyway. Their desire to see the blood flow and the frenzied excitement that builds up according to the level of violence displayed is a "fix" to these people. And the fights are extremely brutal and violent. Most of them end up with one of the birds either dying or being injured so badly that it has to be pulled out, never to fight again. They all used knives on their birds. And they drugged them, too. But, the attitude of someone who "gets off" on watching such a violent and bloody event is certainly a dangerous thing.
It also wasn't uncommon to see the last few fights of the night include pit bulls, instead of cocks, even though it was illegal. Jeff fought dogs, too. And, he drugged them, just as he did the birds. It made them mean - extremely mean. It made me sick.
Needless to say, I never went back.
Now, I will get to my main point. I see this as a blight on society. It is wrong in just about any way you want to look at it. There is absolutely no justification for this. It is truly the "sport" of criminals. I am surprised (although I perhaps shouldn't be) that any member of Congress would support any piece of legislation that allied themselves so much with the criminal element in order to legitimize violence and cruelty toward any living creature, be it human or non-human. Violence is violence, no matter who it is directed toward.
These events are dangerous to the communities that host them. They serve as a meeting ground for violent drug dealers and users to make their deals without fear of reprisal. Just about everyone that I talked to at that event had been convicted of a felony at some point in his life. Most of those felonies had also been violent ones. The raising and transporting of these birds also pose health threats (even threats to the factory farming poultry industry) because of the risk of spreading stuff like Newcastle and such.
Why then, would anyone want to support this? Why would a Congressman, or any other political leader, want to promote violence and criminal activity?
Money - lots of it.
This place was huge. It was the size of a big auction barn, with 4 rings that had fights going on constantly. There were 3 concession stands. The announcer that was calling the fights said that they had about 2000 birds that were going to fight at that tournament. It lasted from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, without letup. I have no idea how much money changed hands, but it must have been quite a bit. The beer for the concession stands was coming from 2 refrigerated Budweiser trucks, and both of them were emptied that weekend.
Now, this was just one fight - just one fight on one weekend. It went on every weekend, as long as it was legal. Well, it still goes on, but they are just not as high-profile with it as they were. The last I heard they were still having the fights. Instead of having the fights in that big barn, the guy just took the action to his own house out in the country. He lives between Sallisaw and Vian, in northern Leflore county in western Oklahoma.
Decent society does not support this. The majority of Americans do not support this. I damn sure don't. Most people realize that cockfighting is wrong and one of the greatest ills in society. We all need to make our voices heard. If they can get 10,000 people (and they probably will - remember people drive all the way across states to go to these things) to show up supporting this, then we should be able to get 100,000 to say "NO" to it.
If you have never written a letter before or made your voice heard to your leaders, now is the time to do it. Do not let this come to pass. This affects more than just the people living in Oklahoma. It also affects the communities that harbor the people that flock to these events. They live here in Arkansas, especially those living south of Mena and down around DeQueen in the Hispanic community. They live in Louisiana, Texas, and other surrounding states - where cockfighting is illegal. They only need one legal place to indulge in this behavior. But, they have to come home after the fights.
Who wants a person living in their community that engages in such activity? Would you want a violent criminal using hard drugs living next to you and your kids? Do you want them introducing this behavior to your kids, taking them to fights and/or selling them drugs? Do you want to encourage more violence in your community? Then stay silent. Do nothing. Allow it to happen. If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.
We can stop this. I intend to do what I can to make sure of it.
(Again, here is the petition to sign, but please send letters also. Thanks.)