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Tulsa World editorial

Next chapter

By World's Editorial Writers
1/22/2003

When will cockfighting debate end?
Hooray for freshman lawmaker John Trebilcock, who has introduced a reasonable measure that would protect the initiative petition process now under assault on several fronts in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, Trebilcock's proposal, if it advances, will be too late to affect efforts now under way to thwart the will of the people.

The Broken Arrow Republican has filed a joint resolution that would require a three-fourths majority in both legislative houses to amend or repeal any measure approved through the initiative petition process. The measure would require a vote of the people before it could become effective.

He says it is not a response to recent actions, including several dozen lawsuits, that seek to undo or water down the cockfighting ban approved by a majority of voters in November. In addition to the legal challenges, another lawmaker is pushing a plan that would in effect nullify that statewide ban and replace it with a county-option approach.

Only in Oklahoma, or someplace similar, like a banana republic, could what amounts to a landslide victory be under fire. No wonder people are cynical about the electoral process.

Trebilcock noted that many voters have expressed concern that the Legislature could alter the ban on cockfighting, a measure which makes the activity a felony punishable by stiff penalties.

Clearly voters endorsing the ban wanted a strong law that would discourage the activity, while at the same time realizing it is unlikely offenders will be sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

But now that the county-option idea has been floated, some Oklahomans seem to be of the mind this is a way out of the controversy. Since the majority of votes favoring the ban came from urban areas, the idea is advancing that county option would allow both urban and rural citizens to have their way.

What poppycock. Since when does it matter where the majority of voters on an issue or a candidate live? If that were the basis for deciding things, then just about every election outcome could be up for grabs. Should urbanites be penalized because of where they live? Should their votes count for less because of their addresses?

There never will be absolute consensus on the subject of cockfighting in this state. But this issue has been decided -- thankfully by voters, who had the courage to address it when lawmakers did not. All those who think tinkering with the decision is somehow justified would be well-advised to abide by the will of the people.