I’m a big believer in honoring one’s culture. I cling tightly to my family’s Irish heritage, and enjoy hearing and learning from others who are also fascinated by their roots. Shaun Lambert, for instance, can make my eyes roll back into my head when he starts talking about the hours he spends on role-playing games on his computer, but he always has my attention when he’s talking about his Inuit Eskimo heritage. It fascinates me to hear these stories, and I get a kick out of hearing the excitement and pride in his voice when he gets on a roll.
He talks about the foods and clothes of the Inuit people, their spiritual traditions and his steadfast belief that all human life originally began with the Eskimos. Of course, he lived in northern Alaska for a good chunk of his life, so his brain might be a bit damaged by frostbite.
However, there are some cultural traditions that I believe no longer take place because, well, they shouldn’t. The United States of America has a full history of importing slaves in its past, but I wouldn’t want to see that come back to life. The Eskimos allegedly put their elderly out of the village so the polar bears would eat them, and I’m not really a big fan of that idea, either. It’s been reported that Irish people have a long tradition of drinking too much and fighting, and as soon as I get these bandages off and kick this hangover, I will argue that point vehemently and with much ...
But I digress.
Traditions often change for a reason — and it’s usually a pretty good reason.
A recent story by UPI said that “The Hawaii House Cultural Affairs Committee has passed two resolutions urging the state Legislature to support cockfighting as a cultural activity.”
Lloyd Marshall was one of the people who spoke up at the committee’s hearing. “I am sick and tired of them calling us a bunch of hoodlums when we are doing what we enjoy doing,” said Marshall.
So, by that logic, if you enjoy mugging people outside ATMs or burning down orphanages, you should be given a pass, right?
This is absurd. According to the story, cockfighting has been illegal in Hawaii since 1884, roughly two short decades after the abolishment of slavery in this country. This is not a recent decision to ban a much-beloved activity. None of today’s active participants ever did so legally, even if they admittedly enjoy it.
“It is not a cultural activity at all,” said Pamela Burns, director of the Hawaiian Humane Society. “What you have is a small group of people who are involved in cockfighting trying to undermine the integrity of the Animal Cruelty Law.”
Look, I freely admit that I do not have a longstanding relationship with chickens, unless they are made into crispy, golden nuggets or on a sandwich. There’s a long line of people who will tell me how cruel it is to eat animals of any kind, and I understand their reasoning. It won’t make me stop eating meat, but I fully get their point and respect it.
But fighting dogs or chickens for sport is just plain cruel. In fact, one could argue that boxing or mixed martial arts are cruel sports with participants who are being taken advantage of to the detriment of their health and well-being. I would argue back that those fighters have the power to say “no” at any time, and are often compensated quite well for their battles.
There are 50 states in this nation, and there are 50 states where cockfighting is illegal. There’s a reason for that. It’s cruel.
Don’t talk to me about cultural traditions on this argument. You want to pray how you want to pray? That’s fine. You want to wear what you want to wear? Sounds good to me. Eat what you want to eat, speak how you want to speak, marry who you want to marry ... I’ll do whatever I can to allow you those freedoms. I believe in that.
But I won’t take up this cause. No chance. It’s cruel.