Lord knows there aren't a whole lot of debates that we can say, in terms of broad nationwide consensus, are settled.
For crying out loud, whether it was a good or bad thing to drag human beings across the ocean to serve as slaves is still, for some reason, a matter for debate. But somehow, perhaps incorrectly, I'd come to accept that America was pretty clear about the matter of pitting dogs against each other for amusement. Dogfighting equals terrible, advocates for dogfighting equal reprehensible humans -- I figured that this was, by now, axiomatic.
But, lo, here comes Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) with a bee in his bonnet over the Humane Society and its stance on animal torture. Various state measures have been enacted to limit "several horrific farming and food practices," including Maryland's prohibition against arsenic being added to chicken feed, which seems eminently reasonable, given the fact we are talking about, well, arsenic.
How does dogfighting get wrapped up into these deliberations? Well, as Scott Keyes reports today (WARNING: graphic image at this link), King took a question at a "tele-townhall" about "his opposition to animal rights and recently introduced legislation that would undermine local standards preventing animal torture." And part of King's response declared it strange to be so concerned about dogfighting, when humans are allowed to step into a ring and fight for sport themselves.
KING: When the legislation that passed in the farm bill that says that it’s a federal crime to watch animals fight or to induce someone else to watch an animal fight, but it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting, there’s something wrong with the priorities of people that think like that.
As Keyes points out, there are distinctions:
Manny Pacquiao chooses to step into the ring. Michael Vick’s dogs did not. Similarly, when a human boxer loses a fight, he is not ritually executed after the fight. The same is not always true in dogfighting.
To further the distinction, not only does Manny Pacquiao choose to step into the ring, he is also told, beforehand, "Hey, Manny Pacquiao, we'll give you millions and millions of dollars to get into that ring."
Similar compensatory arrangements are made with Pacquiao's opponents, which make the prospect of getting whaled on by Pacquiao a little bit more appealing. I might be convinced to spend three minutes letting Pacquiao beat me to a pulp just to pay off my student loan. In the future, this will probably be how everybody pays off their student loans.
Dogs, on the other hand, do not benefit from these inducements, and, indeed, must be trained -- brutally -- to even perform this ritual for a paying audience.
Here's a fun fact: "A three-year study by the Chicago Police Department found that 70 percent of animal offenders had also been arrested for other felonies, including domestic and aggravated battery, illegal drug trafficking, and sex crimes."
I suppose that King is really only sticking up for the 30 percent of animal offenders who are merely sadists. Either way, "during consideration of the 2012 Farm bill, King led an unsuccessful effort to defeat a McGovern amendment to make it a crime for an adult to attend or to bring a child to a dogfight or cockfight," because it's obviously best to introduce people into these environments when they are but whelps.
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Earlier on HuffPost:
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