Judge Tosses Cockfighting Charges; Says Kentucky Law Is Too Ambiguous

Montgomery District Judge William Lane recently threw out charges against more than 500 people who were issued citations after a raid of a cockfighting operation in April. Lane said that the state statute cited by prosecutors which bans attendance at cockfights was ambiguous and could not sustain the charges against those cited.

The problem appears to be with a practice that is quite common and usually drives animal rights activists through the roof. The statute cited as banning cockfighting is quite clear that it is illegal for spectators and vendors to appear,

. . . at an event where a four (4) legged animal is caused to fight for pleasure or profit.

As the judge noted in throwing out the charges, chickens have only two legs. Typically, though, state and federal agencies have a habit of classifying animals for the purposes of law enforcement in ways that defy common sense, such as the USDA’s habit of defining non-bird species as poultry and thereby exempt from certain parts of the Animal Welfare Act. It usually has very good reasons for doing so — namely that Congress hasn’t appropriated it enough funds to actually oversee the care of the redefined animals — but it also goes against common sense. In Kentucky, prosecutors and police seem to be treating chickens as four-legged animals for the purpose of this statute.

The law also contains a highly ambiguous section that exempts “sporting activities,” but does not define that term. Lane noted that common definitions of “sporting activities” could easily encompass cockfighting, and that it is unclear what the legislature meant in that instance.

Michael Endicott, a lawyer representing some of those charged with attending the cockfight, told the Lexington Herald-Leader,

It’s not a very well-written statute. The judge is right. If the legislature wants to make cockfighting illegal, they should spit it out.

Police and prosecutors disagree. A police spokeswoman told the Lexington Herald-Leader,

We respectfully disagree that cockfighting is exempt as a sporting activity according to the statute.

The newspaper reported that prosecutors and police were still deciding whether or not to appeal the decision.

John Goodwin of the Human Society of the United States wants prosecutors to appeal. He told the Lexington Herald-Leader,

This ruling could have huge repercussions across the state. We believe it must be reviewed by a higher court.

Of course the risk there is that a higher court could agree with Lane and instead of having one district judge throwing out charges, the entire statute could be invalidated as far as cockfighting is concerned.

Source:

Judge tosses out cruelty charges from cockfight. Peter Mathews, Lexington Herald-Leader, August 16, 2005.

Matt Prescott and Lara Sanders Pull Off Marriage Proposal Stunt

Animal rights activists Matt Prescott and Lara Sanders pulled off a marriage proposal stunt at an August 5 New York Yankees-Toronto Blue Jays game at Rogers Center in Toronto.

Prescott, who works for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, paid $250 to reserve a marriage proposal to be broadcast on the stadium’s Jumbotron. When the Jumbotron camera focused on the pair, Prescott held up a sign saying,

John Bitove and KFC Cripple Chickens

Bitove is the owner of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and KFC Canada.

Well, this is certainly an improvement on Prescott’s last big idea. He’s the idiot at PETA who came up with the “Holocaust On Your Plate” campaign.

Source:

Man proves he’s not chicken. Craig Smith, Tribune-Review (Pittsburgh), August 9, 2005.

Lovebirds Engage KFC During Yankees-Blue Jays Game. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, August 2005.

Three Activists Arrested, Fourth Loses Job in Wegmans Case

Three animal rights activists with Compassionate Consumers were recently charged with third-degree burglary, a felony, and a fourth was fired from her job, all stemming from several incidents in which the activists allegedly broke into Wegmans’ New York egg farm in order to videotape conditions at the farm.

Adam Durand, 25; Melanie Ippolito, 21; and Megan Cosgrove were arrested and charged with third-degree bursarial which carries a maximum sentence of up to seven years in jail.

On the tape, Durand admits that he videotaped the group’s break-ins at the farm while Ippolito and Cosgrove appear on camera describing how they removed animals from the facility.

Durand told the Finger Lake Times that the trio knew a burglary charge was a possibility, but that it was worth the risk. The newspaper quoted Durand as saying,

We plan on showing up to court and, of course, we’re going to continue to promote the film and raise awareness.

The activists were, however, apparently surprised at the charges they faced. According to the Democrat & Chroncile, the three apparently thought they would only face trespassing charges which carries just a $75 fine. Wegmans, however, has apparently pressed prosecutors to bring the burgarly charges rather than settling for just trespassing charges.

The video the three taped was publicized in July by Compassionate Consumers spokeswoman Jodi Chemes. Chemes was subsequently fired by accounting firm Deloitte & Touche.

Chemes told The Democrat & Chronicle that she believes her firing was due to her animal rights activism. Deloitte & Touche does accounting work for Wegmans Food Markets, and Chemes told The Democrat & Chronicle, “I believe Wegmans pressured them into firing me.”

Deloitte & Touche said it would not comment on a confidential personnel matter. Wegmans, however, said it did contact Deloitte & Touche about Chemes. According to The Democrat & Chronicle,

When news accounts of the animal rights documentary surfaced earlier this month, a representative of Deloitte called Wegmans to say “that one of their employees was involved,” she [Wegmans spokeswoman Joe Natale] said.

After that, “our only request to Deloitte & Touche was to assure us that the security of our information was guaranteed,” said Natale.

Sources:

Fired activist blame Wegmans. Corydon Ireland, Democrat & Chronicle, July 15, 2005.

Animal rights activists charged. Mike Maslanik, Finger Lake Times, August 9, 2005.

Third felony warrant issued in Wegmans Egg Farm Case. Corydon Ireland, Democrat & Chronicle, August 5, 2005.

UPC Unhappy With Carl Jr.’s Ad

I found it laugh out loud funny, but apparently United Poultry Concerns is less than impressed with a new Carl’s Jr. ad about chickens.

The ad, which can be viewed here for the moment, is a simple shot of a chicken against a white background. An off-camera announcer says, “Chicken, sit.” The chicken just goes on clucking. The announcer says, “Chicken, catch” and throws a ball that bounces over the chicken’s head. This goes on through a few more gags with the oblivious chicken continuing to cluck, followed by the line, “There’s only one thing a chicken’s good for — eating.”

UPC’s action alert urges activist to “Protest Carl’s Jr. Ad that Denigrates Chickens,”

Carl’s Jr. (owned by CKE Restaurants, which also owns Hardee’s) is currently running a TV and radio ad claiming that chickens are good for nothing but being eaten. Please blitz Carl’s and CKE Restaurants with letters and comments about the dignity, beauty, and abuse of chickens. Urge them to be kind of chickens and stop making up lies about them. Chickens are intelligent, feeling beings. Every mouthful of chicken is a mouthful of misery.

Source:

Protest Carl’s Jr. Ad that Denigrates Chickens. Press Release, United Poultry Concerns, August 3, 2005.

Karen Davis Publishes Book Defending Holocaust/Chicken Comparisons

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals received such negative feedback for its “Holocaust On Your Plate” campaign that it abandoned it and eradicated most of the traces of it from its various web sites. But United Poultry Concerns’ Karen Davis has decided the analogy can work for animal rights activists and has written a book on the topic, “The Holocaust & The Henmaid’s Tale: A Case for Comparing Atrocities.”

In a press release on the release of the book, United Poultry Concerns reprints the following summary of the book provided by its publisher, Lantern,

In a thoughtful and thought-provoking contribution to the study of animals and the Holocaust, Karen Davis makes the case that significant parallels can — and must — be drawn between the Holocaust and the institutionalized abuse of billions of animals in factory farms. Carefully setting forth the conditions that must be met when one instance of oppression is used metaphorically to illuminate another, Davis demonstrates the value of such comparisons in exploring the invisibility of the oppressed, historical and hidden suffering, the idea that some groups were “made” to server others through suffering and sacrificial death, and other concepts that reveal powerful connections between animal and human experience — as well as human traditions and tendencies of which we all should be aware.

The press release included quotes from Carol Adams and Charles Patterson. Patterson, whose book “Eternal Treblinka” was the inspiration for PETA’s “Holocaust On Your Plate” campaign, says of Davis’ book,

Compelling and convincing . . . Not to think about, protest against, and learn from these twin atrocities — one completed in the middle of the last century, the other continuing every day — is to condone and support the fascist mentality that produced them. I thank Ms. Davis for writing this bold, brave book.

Source:

United Poultry Concerns is proud to announce our new book. Press Release, United Poultry Concerns, August 2, 2005.

PETA Wants NCAA Ban on Gamecock Mascot

In August, the National Collegiate Athletic Association issued a report ruling putting restrictions on tournament appearances by teams that continue to use Native American mascots. That as the perfect opportunity, of course, for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to step in and ask the NCAA to do the same thing to some universities that have animal mascots.

Specifically, PETA requested that the NCAA enact the same sort of sanctions against Jacksonville State and the University of South California — both schools use Gamecocks as their mascot.

PETA’s Dan Shannon was quoted by The Birmingham News as saying,

Our position is that since cockfighting is illegal in 48 states in this country and a felony in South Carolina — you go to jail, period — we don’t think schools should be promoting this illegal act with their mascots. Our problem with Gamecocks is it promotes cockfighting. That’s not only illegal, but tremendously cruel to the animals involved. We’ve been in contact with the presidents of these universities for several years. We’ve exchanged polite letters back and forth, very polite and respectful, but they have chosen not to change their names. With the NCAA decision about Native American nicknames, we hope that might spur them on — no pun intended — to adopt a nickname more respectful to animals.

PETA’s Allison Ezell, who sent a letter to NCAA president Myles Brand, said the group does not object to other animal mascots such as the Oregon Ducks or Baylor Bears which, “highlight the power and beauty in the natural world.”

Source:

PETA asks NCAA to ban Gamecocks nickname. Mike Perrin, The Birmingham News, August 12, 2005.

PETA asks USC to change nickname. The State.Com (University of Southern Carolina student newspaper), August 12, 2005.