Will Louisiana join the civilized world?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1998:
NEW ORLEANS––“While five states once
clung to the barbaric practice of legalized cockfighting,”
the New Orleans Times-Picayune editorialized on
November 23, saluting the referendum bans of cockfighting
passed on November 3 by the voters of Arizona
and Missouri, “now there are only three. Let New
Mexico and Oklahoma carry the stigma themselves,”
the writers continued. “It’s time for us to join the civilized
But, the Times-Picayune acknowledged,
“That’s obviously a challenge in a state where lawmakers
have defined parakeets and cocatiels as animals, but
have steadfastly refused to include chickens. That defiance
of common sense and biology prevents cockfighting
from falling under animal cruelty laws,” and
also––as the Times-Picayune did not mention––protects
The Arizona and Missouri anti-cockfighting
initiative campaigns each ended on a bizarre note. The
day after the election, Maricopa County sheriff Joe
Arpaio dispatched 50 deputies and posse members to
the Arizona Humane Society in north Phoenix to
receive truckloads of fighting cocks whom anonymous
telephone calls promised would be delivered by out-ofbusiness
cockfighters. But the cocks never came.
Arpaio had hoped to feed them to jail inmates.
Earlier, cockfighter David Harris earned public
embarrassment by arguing in a pamphlet opposing
the Arizona ban that U.S. presidents George
Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and
Abraham Lincoln all were cockfighters.
Citizens Against Cockfighting chair James
Massey had an associate check with the historical societies
of the presidents’ home states, however, who discovered
no evidence that either Jefferson or Lincoln
ever had anything to do with cockfighting.
Lincoln, with a well-documented aversion to
blood sports, rescued animals on many recorded occasions,
and remarked “I care not much for a man’s religion
whose dog and cat are not the better for it.”
Lincoln also said, in one of the earliest
known statements on the subject, “I am in favor of animal
rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a
whole human being.”
Washington recalled having once attended a
cockfight at age 19. He lived to age 67.
Jackson, accused of cockfighting during the
1828 presidential election campaign, responded that he
hadn’t been to a cockfight “for the last 13 years”––or
not since his departure from Louisiana following the
Battle of New Orleans.