Fightin' Words

by R. Reese Fuller

The Humane Society of the United States sues Internet giant Amazon over cockfighting magazines.

Louisiana may soon be the last holdout for legal cockfights. The sport is only legal in New Mexico and Louisiana, and the controversial pastime appears to be on its way out the door in New Mexico. The latest salvo against cockfighting came last week, when the Humane Society of the United States filed suit against Amazon for selling cockfighting magazines.

HSUS claims the online retailer is in violation of federal animal cruelty laws by selling the publications The Feathered Warrior and The Gamecock. Verna Dowd, the owner and editor of The Feathered Warrior told the Associated Press: "The Humane Society are crazy people â?¦ They want total control, evidently, over everything people do or think or says, or anything. I don't know what's wrong with them."

A third magazine aimed at cockfighters, Grit and Steel, was not named in the lawsuit, nor were other materials about cockfighting sold on Amazon. John Goodwin, an HSUS spokesman, says in recent years Grit and Steel has altered its content and no longer promotes illegal cockpits, making it difficult to argue that it promotes cockfighting in states where it's illegal. However, Goodwin says, The Feathered Warrior and The Gamecock do just that.

"We're not trying to get them to stop things that we simply disagree with," Goodwin told The Independent Weekly. "What we're trying to do is to get them to stop selling things that help facilitate the breaking of the law. When they're running advertisements for people that are selling illegal cockfighting pits in states where it's banned, when they're selling birds for the expressed purpose of fighting ' where it states their fighting ability in the advertisement and it says, 'We ship worldwide' when in fact transporting an animal over state lines or for foreign export for an animal fighting venture is illegal ' then they're going beyond any sort of conduct that would be First Amendment-protected and getting into the realm of helping people break the law. That's the issue. This is not about what's controversial. This is about what's legal and what is illegal."

Amazon has stated it will continue selling the magazines.