Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nat Geo Keeps It Real

We always had a few chickens in the yard when i was kid. At times, even more than that. Mostly hens for the eggs, but a new rooster every now and again as well.
Generally, we kept bantam roosters or some other less agitated breed that made some noise without being overly aggressive, but there were a few of the bigger breeds as well. The Jungle Fowl rooster was a large beautiful bird, strong plumage and a real strutter. Fun to watch, but mean as all hell.

I still have the memories of being attacked as a kid, and more than one of these roosters ended up in the pot after my dad had got tired of it's shit. Still, he always seemed to end up with another Jungle Fowl eventually. He really liked that breed of rooster.

I'm reminded of this while watching Nat Geo last nite, and a segment about cockfighting in some Asian poverty state, Burma, Thailand, Indo... one of those places.
With Nat Geo, the camera doesn't blink, and the viewer was treated to the actual cockfight footage: blood and death. And not the sanitized version, either.
I found myself attracted to the poetry and grace of these feathered pugilists as they sought to rip the other to shreds.

I can see why people still engage in this sport despite it being illegal most places in this country. So...
What's the big deal? It's just chickens.
If it's perfectly cool to keep chickens penned up in factory farms, for a life span measured in weeks, before getting slaughtered en mass, I would think that keeping and pampering a bird for a couple of years, letting it walk around the yard a bit, before allowing it a fighting chance to cheat death in the ring, the kind and manner of death that nature intended for it, would be far more humane.

I'm suggesting that maybe we need to reconsider our laws as they pertain to this matter.


Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

I gladly eat bear meat, but would never go for a bear baiting; one involves killing an animal in the fastest, most humane way practical, the other involves getting enjoyment from the pain and damage inflicted on the animal.

It's not the death that's the issue, it's the manner of death and the goal of causing suffering.

Same reason why "they were going to die anyways" is a shitty excuse to torture someone to death-- say, in a medical experiment.

FWIW, none of the fighting cocks I've ever seen were pampered-- they were kept in oil barrels, cut in half, lined up with heavy mesh over the top; I am guessing there were containers for food and water in the barrel, but there wasn't any shade, and no way for a breeze to get down.

my name is Amanda said...

Cosigning the statement above!

Also, I'm not okay with inhumane factory farms; I don't think a lot of people think they're cool. Problem is, that industry is a lot more powerful than your independent, cock fighting entrepreneuers.

Gino said...

FF: bearbaiting is not a natural occurance.
left to themselves, these roosters would be fighting in much the same way, anyway.

Amanda: but you still eat that chicken,yeah?

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Fighting cock's spurs are usually sharpened, if they don't just go with attaching razor blades. (After that idiot got himself killed, there were a lot of decent pictures of the special made spurs.)

I'd imagine mniAmanda buys free range.

Gino said...

yeah, i was thinking about the razor blade thing.

i knew a guy who used to fight cocks long ago. but his contest were above board: no gambling, no added spurs. very few cocks died as they were separated once one gained the upper hand.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

I don't *like* that, but I can see it as possibly defensible.
Sort of like real dog fights (not "dog fights" for entertainment, but two tame dogs fighting because they're dogs) don't generally involve blood, let alone maiming.

Problem is, human nature is going to mean that folks want a bigger high, and people will give it to them.
Progression is probably something like:
Well trained pet or work animals fight, blood is rare.
Animals are raised for fighting-- not much training, beyond "don't bite the owner" stuff.
Fighting animals are trained to draw blood, because people like that.
Fighting animals are trained to attack viciously, because that's how you win in a contest where both are trained to draw blood; animals that pause to go "is that a target" lose.
Vicious fighting animals are modded to be better killers-- be that arming them or sharpening their natural weapons, or giving them pain killers or animal angel dust.

I don't like animal fighting; I think blood sports are wrong.
(Coupled for contrast, as in: "I don't like eating veal; I think eating humans is wrong"-- not drawing an automatic equivalence.)

I don't see anything redeeming in animal fights, so the decline into full bloodsport and the difficulty of separating the two is enough reason to ban it.

Brian said...

If companies the size of Tyson Foods thought they could make money off of cockfighting, you can be sure it would be just as legal as factory farming. Which is to say, if middle class white people were into it. See also: dog fighting.

None of which is to say that I would personally support legalizing either, or that I never eat meat from factory farms. I just can't muster a lot of moral outrage over animal welfare when I think about all the ways our society still mistreats human beings.

When we aren't putting people in cages for victimless crimes, when we aren't bombing the shit out of civilians, when we aren't deporting children who've never known a country other than this one, and we aren't happy to let people and languish without their basic needs met in the richest society that has ever existed...then come talk to me about the chickens.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Forget about the abuse of chickens, how about the vicious murder of strawmen?

Brian said...

That wasn't directed at anyone, just the issues raised generally.

Gino said...

Save The Strawmen!

Vanesa Littlecrow W. said...

I used to train fighting cocks for my paternal grandparents. They used to pocket most of the money, but I didn't care. I got to spoil roosters.

When they are trained from chicks, those little guys are smart and gentle, until they see another rooster or animal you train them to kill -- like rats or mongooses. Invariably, the loser in a cockfight becomes soup.

You are right, it's a lot less cruel than factory chicken farming. And unlike factory chickens that are barely able to function, those little dudes are spoiled rotten and constantly groomed. They strut around like little kings. They obey commands better than most dogs. They are so awesome and fun.

Having said that, after my biggest prize winner and favorite rooster was served to me as loser soup, I never wanted to fight cocks on purpose again. It broke my heart. Having said that, it's fun to train roosters to terrorize little brothers. >:D