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Tulsa World

Birdbrains
By World's Editorial Writers

10/8/2002

Cockfighting ban elicits foul stances Since two-thirds of Oklahomans support a ban on cockfighting, you would

think candidates running for a major statewide office like governor would feel similarly. But surprisingly, only Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Largent supports the proposed ban that will go before voters on Nov. 5. The other two used the predictable gambit of trying to have it both ways: saying in essence I don't really endorse cockfighting but I can't endorse this proposed legislation either.

That cowardly approach might work with the completely uninformed but most voters will see through it. Largent is the only one who had the guts to call this one like it is. Largent said cockfighting is a "barbaric practice that reflects poorly" on Oklahoma and "does not represent the best of Oklahoma." Well said.

Democrat Brad Henry's spokesman said the candidate hasn't been to any cockfights and doesn't plan to attend any, but added he can't support the proposed ban because he feels the penalties are too harsh. But the proposed ban's penalties are identical, word for word, to those in the existing state statute banning dogfighting. If Henry feels such penalties are too harsh, why hasn't he moved to amend the dogfighting statute?

Independent candidate Gary Richardson, as usual, had the most creative position. He called for the cockfighting issue to be decided on a county-option basis. "Tulsa and Oklahoma City shouldn't tell the smaller counties what to do," he said, adding that cockfighting is a major industry" in some places.

Wrong on both counts. First of all, polls show strong opposition to cockfighting in all sectors of the state. Just because they live in the country doesn't mean rural Oklahomans support staged, barbaric animal fights ending in death. Second, the fact that an activity generates lots of money doesn't mean it is acceptable in civilized society.

Richardson and Henry have shown a pandering propensity, based on what they think the polls indicate. They missed the mark this time -- by a long shot.