Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Lost In Cyberspace: Sport or Fowl Play?

By Noah Masterson

MARCH 8, 1999:  You can't fight cocks in Arizona or Missouri anymore. Those states set precedent last November by having a ballot measure to ban cockfighting. Where will those poor cockfighters go? Well, New Mexico is one of three states left in which the sport is legal. (The other two are Louisiana and Oklahoma.) People feel strongly about cockfighting. To some, it is needlessly cruel. To others, it is a rich tradition and no more cruel to animals than snapping their heads and eating their bodies. The Internet has always been a platform for the opinionated masses, a place where cockfighters and their opponents can both have their say.

The Pit Master

(www.usworldwide.com/pitmaster)--This is currently the most comprehensive source for information about cockfighting. The site includes links to merchandisers, game farms, bulletin boards, chat rooms and lots more. There's even a joke page, but all the jokes are of the chicken-crossing-the-road variety, and have nothing to do with tying razors to cocks' feet and pitting them against one another. The glossary is most useful; here I learned that a "blinker" is a rooster who is blind in one eye, a "gaff" is the needle-like weapon used in "gaff cockfights," a "glasher" is a rooster used for long-knife fighting and "sabong" is Filipino for cockfight. I was visitor number 126,743 to this site.

International Cockfighting

(www.cockfight.com)--The only site that could ever challenge The Pit Master is this one, International Cockfighting. Its elegant design does not bring to mind wild-eyed cockfighters in back alley pits, spattered with chicken blood and kicking up dust. No, this site looks pro, like it was designed by a computer nerd in an ill-fitting sweater and glasses. One thing, though: none of the links are up yet. Come on, cockfighter, get your shit together!

United Poultry Concerns

(arrs.envirolink.org/upc/)--In their mission statement, United Poultry Concerns says that they are "a nonprofit organization which addresses the treatment of chickens and other domestic fowl in food production, science, education, entertainment and human companionship situations, promoting the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl and a healthy lifestyle." Their primary target is the poultry and egg biz, and they provide tips on living egg- and poultry-free, form letters to send to the press and plenty of photos of starved, debeaked egg-layers, singing merrily in their cages. Their one item about cockfighting is a simple press release regarding last November's ban in Arizona and Missouri, including an anecdote about the war veteran who pleaded to the Arizona House Judiciary Committee, removing his artificial leg and shouting, "If this is not enough for my country, to be able to come and fight chickens whenever I want to fight chickens, then what is this country coming to?"

Phoenix New Times

(www.phoenixnewtimes.com/1998/100898/feature1-1.html)--Last October, Phoenix New Times ran a balanced and lengthy feature written by David Holthouse about cockfighting in Arizona. The article neither condemns nor glorifies the sport, and gives some perspective on the vastly different backgrounds from which cockfighters and their opponents come. Bouncing back and forth between a cockfighting pit in a darkened rock quarry and a black-tie fundraiser thrown to end the cruelty of cockfighting, Holthouse offers this: "Many of the suits and gowns inside the Ritz-Carlton ballroom cost more than most of the cockfighting fans at the quarry take home in a week. The predominantly white men and women who wear them sip $7.50 cocktails and snack on hors d'oeuvres, served by people who are almost all brown, as they preview the art, which includes a movie poster for The Horse Whisperer autographed by Robert Redford." To get a true sense of what cockfighting is all about, this is the best place to start.

Got info on cockfighting in New Mexico? E-mail noah.masterson@alibi.com.

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