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Hawaiian lawmakers shelve proposal that would have recognized cockfighting for its cultural significance

April 5, 2010 |  8:16 pm

Roosters Many animal advocates were outraged last week when a Hawaiian House committee advanced a resolution that, if passed, would have recognized cockfighting for its cultural significance in the state. Although the resolution wouldn't have legalized cockfighting, which is illegal in all 50 states, many animal-rights and animal-welfare groups viewed it with disgust.

One of the most vocal opponents of the proposal was Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States. Pacelle took to his blog last week to protest the action of Hawaii's House Committee on Tourism, Culture and International Affairs.

"A wide array of animal abusers use the smokescreen of culture as a defense for their depravity, whether they are bullfighters, dogfighters, or seal clubbers," Pacelle wrote. "It is just amazing that a group of elected officials ... would provide a defense for a group of known, professional lawbreakers who enjoy the sight of animals trying to hack each other to death and like to gamble on the outcome."

Apparently in a direct response to the flap over the proposal, Hawaii lawmakers have quietly decided to shelve the idea to recognize cockfighting on cultural merits by sending it back to committee, according to the Associated Press.

"Lots of people had strong concerns and objections to the bill and so, at the end of the day, we thought it might be a distraction to the bigger work we have to do," the state's House majority leader, Blake Oshiro, a Democrat, told the Star-Bulletin newspaper about the decision. "Absent some extraordinary maneuvers that I'm not aware of, it's dead."

Rep. Joey Manahan, also a Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Tourism, Culture and International Affairs, said he was disappointed that the proposal failed to advance because cockfighting enthusiasts had invested so much energy into it. He told the Associated Press that he'll consider bringing the issue back to the House next year.

-- Lindsay Barnett

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Photo: A cockfight in Pakistan on Jan. 29. Credit: K.M. Chaudary / Associated Press

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