Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 4, 2010

A modest proposal regarding chickens

By Charles Memminger

Man, I'm going to get so killed for this. After all, I love creatures great and small, and have several furry and featured specimens roaming around my house. And I'm a big supporter of the Hawaiian Humane Society and its goal to protect animals from pain and cruelty.

But the thing is, I eat chicken. I love chicken in just about all of its edible forms, as long as they don't involve mayonnaise. Fried, baked, barbecued, teriyaki, kelaguen, kabobs ... you name it. So I feel like I'd be something of a hypocrite if I were to rail at the pastime enjoyed by certain cultures that's called "cockfighting."

I lived on Guam where cockfighting was legal, and I suspect that some of the delicious chicken kelaguen we enjoyed at fiestas came from birds who came in second at cockfights. I went to a cockfight in the Philippines, where, amid great yelling, cheering and gambling, most of the fights were over quickly, and the losers went into a 55-gallon drum of boiling water straightaway. They lost their lives, I lost 300 pesos.

And I confess in my more enthusiastic moments as a columnist I have said that not only should cockfights be legal, but that all the chickens we eat should die in the glory of battle. Think about it. Wouldn't you feel better about eating that teriyaki chicken sandwich if you knew your entree died on a field of honor instead of having his throat cut in an assembly line by some guy who never finished high school?

(Disclosure: many years ago, I visited a chicken processing plant where some guy who never finished high school slit the necks of chickens. I hope technology has increased to where either a humane machine does the dispatching of the fowl or at least a high school diploma is mandatory.)

The point is, everybody remembers the Spartans, but nobody remembers the pullets.

The reason this comes up is because the state House Tourism, Culture and International Affairs Committee recently passed in a 4-2 vote a resolution recognizing the cultural significance of cockfight-ing in Hawai'i. It wasn't even a bill to legalize the sport, but the hearing turned testy. Some insisted that cockfighting was a cultural rite, and opponents pointed out that cultural practice can be immoral even if it's a big deal to those who practice it. Cannibalism, for instance.

(Editor's note: The author did not attend the hearing, and cannibalism was not discussed.)

The vote moved the resolution on to the House Judiciary Committee, where it will be altered through a bipartisan reconciliation process to insist that all chickens killed in Hawai'i be given their Miranda rights first and be deemed "tasty" before they are put to death. (Editor's note: No.)

Proponents of the resolution did soften its wording to say they don't support the razor-like gaffs used in cockfights or the associated gambling. (Editor's note: True.) They also said the birds should wear little boxing gloves, tutus and toy tiaras on their heads.

(Editor's note: Not even.)

(Columnist's note: Four seconds after writing this column, the resolution was killed. So there you go.)