Another bird-brained idea from Oklahoma Reply

In Texas, we like to brag that “we’re like a whole other country.” Our neighbor to the north has gone a step further – it’s like a whole ‘nother planet. A planet with too little oxygen in its atmosphere.

Now that cockfighting is illegal in Oklahoma, a state senator has come up with a great way to help the state’s gamefowl industry and at the same time preserve a part of Oklahoma high culture.

Sen. Frank Shurden is suggesting that fighting roosters be given little boxing gloves so they can duke it out without bloodshed. This gem of an idea is in a bill the Democrat has introduced – apparently with a straight face – for the legislative session that begins Feb. 7.

To the absolute amazement of anyone who knows anything about Oklahoma, voters there banned cockfighting in 2002. That development seemed about as likely as the state banning tractor pulls or requiring nutritional information on Indian tacos.

To no one’s surprise, cockfighting is still legal in Louisiana and New Mexico. I have always heard that a person is known by the company he keeps, and I think that truism also applies to states. Have Oklahoma voters thought this through? Do they really want to be mentioned in the same breath as Louisiana and New Mexico?

The motto on Oklahoma license plates used to be “Oklahoma is OK!” Now it reads, “Oklahoma Is Not Louisiana or New Mexico!” It would be a real shame if they had to change this ringing endorsement of the Sooner State.

Speaking of the Sooner State, there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that the motto is derived from the statement, “I’d sooner be dead than living in Oklahoma.”

But back to Shurden’s idea. The senator was quoted as saying, “Let the roosters do what they love to do without getting injured.” If he really wanted to let roosters do what they love to do without getting hurt, he’d issue them little condoms, not little boxing gloves.

In his search for a new way to let the roosters do that he says they love to do, Shurden learned about a company in California (where else?) that promotes a non-lethal form of cockfighting.

The company is supposedly trying to patent equipment that will score the ‘hits’ of these sparring live gamefowl, much as fencers score points without actually running someone through or carving a big “Z” on their opponent’s chest.

Under this unlikely scenario, the roosters would wear sparring muffs, which are padded gloves placed over their natural spurs.

What’s next? Headgear? Little satin shorts and robes? Will the state’s big promoter of non-lethal cockfighting be Don a la King?

I can see a whole new batch of jokes spurred by the sport. “Why did the chicken cross the road? He was getting in shape for a scheduled 10-rounder with Rhode Island Red at the VFW.”

Shurden was quoted as saying, “Who’s going to object to chickens fighting like humans do?” Well, to begin with, anyone with an IQ higher than room temperature. Which means his bill has a real good chance of passing the Senate and is an absolute shoo-in in the House.

One of Shurden’s arguments for the bill is that it will keep the chickens from getting hurt.  I don’t think this is a valid argument. Human boxers wear gloves, but look at Muhammad Ali. He got hit in the head a lot less than most boxers, but now he’s the poster boy for Parkinson’s disease. His motto today is, “Float like a butterfly, shake like a leaf.”

So what happens to the chickens that take one too many shots to the head? Joe Louis became a greeter in Vegas but this really isn’t an option for a punched-out pullet. They might end up as Sunday dinner; instead of having Kung Pao chicken at your local Chinese eatery, you could opt for Kung Fu chicken.

These chickens would also be ready for frying, since they’ve already been battered.

But I think the most appropriate place for these animals – animals that start life with a brain the size of a pea and then have their mental capacity diminished through a life in the ring – is with their intellectual peers.

In the Oklahoma state Senate.

Feb. 4, 2005 – my first column

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