A deadly blow for a fowl practice

Published 5:59 pm Monday, August 11, 2008

Roosters across the country might just crow a little earlier and a little louder on Friday. That’s because the birds, along with their female counterparts, will be celebrating perhaps their greatest political victory ever.

On this day, cockfighting will become illegal in Louisiana, the last state to adopt such a law. The only legislation that can compare with the act of the Louisiana lawmakers is that that banned surgical and chemical castration in many parts of the world.

But Aug. 15 will no doubt turn into a chicken holiday because the date will forever be remembered as when the senseless cock-on-cock violence ceased in the United States of America. Only maybe it won’t.

“They’re still going to fight, they’re still going to fight for years to come,” Elizabeth Barras, who with husband Dale ran a cockfighting pit in St. Martin Parish for 14 years, told The Associated Press. “They’ve still got cockfighting in every state. They just hide it from the law.”

Barras is probably right. Though the activity has long been illegal in our own state, you’d be hard pressed to find a county where people aren’t strapping blades and spikes to roosters’ legs, throwing them in a pit and betting on which will kill the other.

Cockfighting proponents consider the activity an essential part of their culture. Maybe it’s time they let this part of that culture go. Giving animals the training and tools necessary to maim and kill each other then allowing them to do so purely for pleasure is wrong.

Besides, we’ve underestimated the chicken. Ancient Greek oracles used fowl to determine to determine omens. And then there’s the story of the Publius Claudius Pulcher, who commanded the Roman fleet in the First Punic War. Pulcher’s sacred chickens refused to eat before the Battle of Drepana, so he had them thrown overboard, saying, “If they won’t eat, let them drink!” Needless to say, Pulcher lost the battle. He was then exiled from Rome for sacrilege.

So, maybe things will start to look up for all of us now that we will be giving chickens their due respect. Maybe we should all celebrate Friday.