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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Rudy Giuliani And The Price Of Milk
While running for president in 2007, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani <a href="http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/news_theswamp/2007/04/giulianis_price.html">told</a> a reporter at a Montgomery, Ala., supermarket that he estimates "a gallon of milk is probably about a $1.50, a loaf of bread about a $1.25, $1.30, last time I bought one." It must have been a few election cycles since his last trip: The grocery store's website listed milk for $3.38 and bread up to $3.49.
Dan Quayle And Single Mothers
During George H.W. Bush's reelection campaign in 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle <a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1314&dat=19920521&id=b1tWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=NfADAAAAIBAJ&pg=6921,388223" target="_hplink">scoffed</a> at the "Murphy Brown situation," referring to a television character who had a child out of wedlock. Quayle called the Brown story "totally unreal," adding, "A highly paid professional woman [with a baby] ... give me a break."
Martha Coakley And Shaking Hands
In a display of aloofness that many political observers say led to her defeat by Republican Scott Brown, Democratic Senate candidate and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley erred in <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0110/Coakley_not_sweating_it.html" target="_hplink">brushing off</a> the idea of ramping up her campaigning. When asked whether she was being too apathetic, she referenced one of Brown's ads and fired back, "As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?"
Spiro Agnew And Poor Neighborhoods
Republican vice presidential candidate Spiro Agnew, branded as Richard Nixon's go-to guy on cities, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1996/09/18/us/spiro-t-agnew-ex-vice-president-dies-at-77.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm" target="_hplink">vowed</a> in 1968 to avoid poor neighborhoods. "If you've seen one slum, you've seen them all," Agnew said.
Gerald Ford And Tamales
While visiting the Alamo in 1976, President Gerald Ford <a href="http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/No-one-told-Ford-tamales-need-to-be-unwrapped-1536700.php" target="_hplink">bit</a> into a tamale through the husk, a faux pas later deemed the "Great Tamales Incident."
George H.W. Bush And Grocery Scanners
President George H.W. Bush caught flak for <a href="http://www.snopes.com/history/american/bushscan.asp" target="_hplink">appearing awed</a> by a supermarket check-out scanner while touring a grocers convention in 1992. It turned out the president was being shown a new bar code technology, and the convention worker who was alongside Bush later said it's "foolish to think the president doesn't know anything about grocery stores. He knew exactly what I was talking about."
George W. Bush And Gas Prices
In 2008, President George W. Bush <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/business/worldbusiness/03iht-assess.4.11654214.html?_r=1" target="_hplink">said</a> he had not heard predictions that gas prices could soon hit $4 a gallon. At the time, the national average was $3.29 a gallon.
John Kerry And Cheese Steak
In 2003, Democratic presidential contender John Kerry <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/battle10/244119/bloombergs-john-kerry-cheesesteak-moment-thomas-shakely#" target="_hplink">ordered</a> Swiss cheese on a cheese steak while campaigning in South Philadelphia, straying from the traditional favorite topping, Cheez Whiz.
Michael Dukakis And The Tank
Democratic presidential contender Michael Dukakis <a href="http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2008/01/17/the-photo-op-that-tanked" target="_hplink">tried</a> to one-up Republican opponent George H.W. Bush on national defense by striking a pose in an M1 Abrams tank.
Mitt Romney And Wawa
Mitt Romney has had his fair share of seemingly out-of-touch statements this election cycle, admitting he likes to "fire people" and <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/mitt-romney-sandwich-computer-wawa/story?id=16587170#.T-Ca3XBfaUc" target="_hplink">expressing amazement</a> at the touchscreen ordering system at convenience store Wawa.
Barack Obama And The Private Sector
President Barack Obama is not exempt from the "gotcha" moment. In June, he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/08/obama-doing-fine-private-sector_n_1581874.html" target="_hplink">described</a> the private sector economy as "doing fine." The gaffe immediately elicited comparisons with his 2008 Republican opponent, John McCain, who said that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong" in the midst of a crippling financial crisis.