United Poultry Concerns Cockfighting
Arkansas Democrat Gazette editorial on cockfighting
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
September 11, 2002

What culture?
History can't excuse abuse

WE'RE CURIOUS about one particular argument being used by those who breed gamecocks, and want to go on shipping them across state lines for fun and profit-cruel fun and bloody profit.

It's the Culture Argument again.

It's an argument that's been used before-about a lot of ethically dubious practices: It's in my culture. You can't take that away.

Really? We'll see. A federal law to take effect next year will make it illegal to ship gamecocks across state lines. And here in Arkansas, come Election Day, the voters will have a chance to make this kind of cruelty to animals a felony.

But it's a part of my culture!

News flash: Just because some practice is a cultural artifact (like female mutilation, or sacrificing your first born) doesn't make it acceptable. Which is why government-with the consent of the governed-oft steps in to undo some long-standing practice whose barbarity has become obvious. Alas, it also blesses new barbarities, like the abortion of healthy but unwanted babies. Cultures advance or decay, progress or regress. People must shape cultures, not just be shaped by them.

The sale of moonshine in poverty ridden Arkansas was part of this state's culture not too long ago, too. Those who had a few ears of corn were able to turn a small profit, if they could just avoid the revenooers. But that didn't stop law enforcement from busting many a still anyway.

And don't try to shoot a deer from your truck window in September, no matter what your grandpa used to do. Hot Springs may have a history of gambling halls, but they went out when Winthrop Rockefeller came in. Before the 19th Amendment, the culture of this country didn't condone women voting, either.

Before the murder rate became unacceptable, there were few if any obstacles to obtaining weapons in this culture. Background checks would have been laughable.

Slavery was the cold heart and brutal soul of Southern culture until a war you may have heard about put that peculiar institution safely in our past.

Even arguments from religion don't always stand up as the country changes its cultural standards. Today, the government imposes its will on certain Mormon families who have challenged the laws against bigamy as unconstitutional. And religious feelings about immunization or blood transfusions turn out to be an inadequate argument against modern medical treatment.

"It's in my culture," isn't an argument ender. It's an argument-beginner. Because (a) not all cultures are equal, no matter what the multiculturalists claim; (b) cultures change, one hopes for the better; and (c) right is right and cruelty to animals is wrong.

This story was published Wednesday, September 11, 2002


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(Cockfighting: Arkansas Democrat Gazette editorial on cockfighting - 11 September 2002)

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