When I woke up this morning, I wasn't sure if I would talk about the latest product for the home or the latest trend in the industry. But when I came across this article on Techdirt, I couldn't help but talk about it.
Over the past year, the American Humane Society has been targeting Amazon.com as an accomplice in the sale and distribution of cockfighting magazines and videos. According to Amazon, it wasn't the legal distributor of this material (which is true, a third-party merchant was) and the lawsuit should be brought up against those people actually distributing the material.
Back in 1999, President Clinton enacted a law making the depiction of animal cruelty illegal in any form and especially as a video on the Internet. Unfortunately, this law was extremely broad in scope and a number of loopholes arose that allowed people to continue distributing the offensive material, regardless of the law.
In an effort to curb this string of videos, the Humane Society is going to court against the distributor of the cockfighting material saying it is in direct violation of the aforementioned law. The distributor claims that the company operates in Puerto Rico where this form of entertainment is an accepted part of the culture. Even worse, Internet depiction of illegal activities is not illegal and some believe that an all-out stoppage to cockfighting could set a precedent that could easily limit the rights of people on the Internet under the first amendment. If you ask me, these people are dead wrong.
Cockfighting is one of the most brutal and disturbing forms of entertainment we have ever seen. For those who aren't too sure how it works, a group of people stand around a ring and watch two roosters peck the hell out of each other until one dies or someone steps in. The point: money -- cockfighting is typically a betting person's sport.
While I understand cockfighting is a part of the Puerto Rican culture and I respect that, it has no place in American homes. First off, the point of watching a cock fight is to bet on the best rooster and hope you win money. Are people creating some sort of illegal gambling ring in their homes and using the video as the determining factor on who should win the bet? If so, I'm pretty sure that's illegal.
I respect the right for people to watch what they want on the Internet in the comfort of their own home -- to a degree. I don't believe people should be able to watch pedophilia on the Internet, I don't believe people should watch brutal rapes or murders on the Internet and to be honest, I don't believe people should be able to watch cruel and inhumane animal treatment on the Internet. I don't think that's limiting our first amendment rights, I just think it's common sense.
I'm sure some of you feel it is an animal fight much like the fights we see on the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet, but I tend to disagree. The fights on those channels occur in the wild and it is a part of their nature. Cockfighting is created by people who want to watch two animals kill each other so they can make an extra bit of money.
And while we're at it, let's get rid of all the dog fights on the Internet too. What kind of people will take helpless dogs and watch them fight to the death for a few extra bucks? Why should that be allowed on the Internet? Do people get some sick pleasure watching those videos? If so, I think first amendment rights should be the least of their worries.
As the Internet grew, the back room videos of yesteryear quietly crept onto the web. Along with those videos, viewers found an outlet to enjoy their topic of interest in the quiet and comfort of their own homes. And while most people enjoy the ability to watch funny shows or other legal material on the Internet, those back room viewers press on and creep their way into the more mainstream consciousness.
But at what point do we need to say enough is enough?
Animals are by and large, quite helpless. When placed in the care of human beings, they need to be fed and brought to water. Animals need to be given the opportunity to procreate and live a life as they were meant to live it. Animals were not meant to be treated poorly. We put people in jail for dog and cock fighting and killing animals, why shouldn't we stop the distribution of those same actions?
Cockfighting has no place on the Internet. It's not a matter of first amendment rights, it's a matter of doing what is right.