Heterodox Views on Politics and Public Policy from Michael Blaine

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Cock-and-Bull Story

Ready for Congressional Testimony

This week, after CIA director Michael Hayden admitted that his agency has tortured prisoners, the US Congress snapped into action by holding a hearing to question baseball pitcher Roger Clemens about his alleged steroid use. With this bold stroke, the "People's House" sent a clear message to the rest of the world: cheating in the highest professional ranks of the national pastime could have negative consequences, although we will still ask you for your autograph. Our elected officials proved that the beacon of democracy shines on.

But the story does not end there. As official government confession on torture sank in, civic groups raised a hue and cry for the humane treatment of . . . roosters. New York Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez and former San Francisco Giants pitcher and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal turned up in a YouTube video releasing cocks in a fight two years ago in the Dominican Republic. (For the record, Marichal's rooster killed Martinez'.) Notwithstanding that this activity is legal and wildly popular in the pitchers' native country, the president of the Humane Society declared that "(a)nimal fighting has no place whatsoever among those who presume to be role models for youngsters . . . It's animal cruelty, no matter where it occurs."

Although I'm sympathetic to the Dominicans' own cultural standards, the Humane Society's position is perhaps defensible. But until the American government repudiates wars of aggression; extra-territorial occupations; the murder of civilians, intended or otherwise; and torture, it stands to reason that whether or not baseball players attend a cock fight will have only a marginal impact on our kids. At one time in this nation it would have been obvious that the real issue is not defending roosters, but the universal rights of human beings. If American children see Congress focused on steroids while society's institutions wreak violence on humans, our country can hardly expect its youngest members to behave humanely.