A Louisiana senator is making headlines for standing in opposition to legislation that would crack down on cockfighting in the state, claiming it will shut down the legitimate sport of “chicken boxing.”
Articles about what went down at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Tuesday morning read like they might be straight out of The Onion, or might at the very least be an April Fool’s joke, but the effort to toughen the laws on cockfighting in the state is very real.
Louisiana was the last state to ban cockfighting in 2008, making it illegal in every state, but animal advocates who are opposed to this cruel bloodsport believe that low penalties in Louisiana and neighboring states have made it a prime place for those involved to continue to do business.
Senate Bill 523 was introduced by Senator J.P. Morrell with the intention of closing the loopholes in the current law that make it difficult to enforce by expanding the definition of chicken to include gamefowl, rooster or other birds, banning cockfighting paraphernalia – including spurs, gaffs and knives – and increasing penalties for offenders by making it a felony on a first offense.
Senator Elbert Guillory opposed the measure, claiming it would shut down the sport of “chicken boxing.”
The AP quoted Sen. Guillory saying: “There is a legitimate sport known as chicken boxing. It has nothing to do with cockfighting, and it is clear that this bill would interfere, would criminalize that legal enterprise.”
He further described chicken boxing “as similar to human kickboxing, with chickens kicking at each other while wearing rubber “gloves” that cover the spurs on their legs. The chickens face each other in rounds of 10 minutes each, and … there’s little chance of serious injury with veterinarians on hand to monitor the matches.”
“Instead of a blade or exposed spur, they hit each other with these boxing gloves on, which is quite safe,” Guillory said later. “There’s no blood.”
Bloodless or not, his explanation apparently baffled fellow lawmakers who said they had never heard of such a thing. Sen. Morrell said the the explanation sounded like an excuse to circumvent current laws and that fighting two chickens is already illegal anyway.
His thoughts were backed up by John Goodwin, director of animal cruelty policy for the Humane Society of the United States, who stated that there is no such thing as chicken boxing.
“‘Chicken boxing’ is just a creative excuse the cockfighters have come up with to mask their real agenda, which is to maintain the weakest penalties for cockfighting as possible,” he told the Times-Picayune.
He further explained that cockfighters use “sparring muffs” on birds during practice matches to see how well they fight, which could look like little boxing gloves, but that the actual sport chicken boxing is not really a thing.
Despite the opposition and strange arguments, the committee voted 4-2 to pass the bill, which will now go to the Senate for a vote where we can only hope chicken boxing won’t be mentioned — or defended.
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