Arguing Over The Constitutionality Of Online Cockfighting Videos

from the chicken-on-chicken dept

Over the last year or so, the Humane Society's been threatening Amazon.com because a third-party merchant that used its e-commerce platform was selling magazines about cockfighting. The Humane Society contended that the magazines were illegal under the Animal Welfare Act, though Amazon disagreed -- but in any case, since Amazon wasn't the publisher, they didn't seem like the right people to sue. Cockfighting and free speech has come up again now, as a company that sells online cockfighting videos is challenging a federal law that makes it illegal to sell depictions of animal cruelty. The law was enacted in 1999 to combat the sales of "crush videos", which apparently depict women crushing animals to death in order to deliver some sort of sexual stimulation to the viewer. Then-President Clinton instructed the DOJ to enforce the law narrowly, to target such material, even though the law is worded much more broadly. The company says it operates from Puerto Rico, where cockfighting remains legal. It contends that the fights are an accepted part of the culture there, and appears to be claiming that because the fights themselves are legal in Puerto Rico, it should be able to sell videos of them over the internet to users in the rest of the country.

It's a complicated case, since generally, depictions of illegal activity aren't themselves illegal, and don't fall under the exceptions to free speech in the First Amendment. Should the law be upheld, it could establish an interesting precedent for the government being able to limit speech that depicts illegal activities and give the government a useful censorship tool. While it's unlikely it would seek to criminalize the broadcast of surveillance footage of bank robberies, gambling-related content would be a possible target, given the fervor with which online gambling has been attacked. Already, at least one state has tried to crack down on online gambling sites that don't offer gaming, just discussion and links. If this law is upheld, such efforts could receive a boost.

Filed Under: cockfighting
Companies: amazon


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  1. identicon
    Peleas de Gallo, 24 Feb 2008 @ 4:40am

    This ain't no chicken shit...

    Cock fighting is legal in several countries, The U.S. really has no right to dictate coliseum operators online/off-line activity, this is absurd! If coliseum owners have a website, chances are, they sell the cock fight videos privately, usually by mail. They will sell it to whoever orders, some let you download it; they ship everywhere and rarely ask any questions. Besides that, you can get these videos on any video sharing social networks, even on Google Video, for crying out loud!!

    If cock fighting videos are illegal in the U.S., then it's the American citizens problem and it should not be the problem of a cock-fight-operator in any way, shape or form.

    Also, there is level of hypocrisy and downright ignorance involved here. There are cultural differences that American legislators simply refuse to accept, they want to impose their belief system on the entire world, which is why so many people hate these RIDICULOUS American policies that only serve to waste tax payer dollars.

    Personally, I don't watch cock fighting but I can appreciate the fact that it is viewed by and large as a sport throughout Puerto Rico, Spain and other Spanish speaking countries. Bull fighting is also a bloody sport involving animals... I don't see US legislators trying to 'regulate' BULLFIGHTING or intervening in one of Spain's favorite national sport! Hypocrisy, hypocrisy, hypocrisy!

    The Humane society is an honorable organization that I have a lot of respect for. They have done so much for animals, fighting animal cruelty and what not. I respect their opinion, however, they should focus their energy on dogs, cats, wales, dolphins, monkey's or animals that are at risk of becoming extinct. Cocks are BIRDS, they have the brain the size of my pinky tip and these birds are raised to be cold blooded killers.

    By the way, these cocks are usually treated like royalty... not all of them, but you should see how owners pamper these creatures. I've witnessed grown men cry upon the unfortunate death of his beloved COCK and let me tell you, it was a sad picture. Although, I am not sure if it was because of the cock or the $250,000 bet he lost. Regardless, the loss of a champion cock can send any man into a deep depression. How's that for love?

    FytFan

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