Cock Blocking

Danny Reid is no fan of cockfighting.

So when the local marketing executive and animal rights advocate heard that Amazon.com sells cockfighting books, magazines and videos, he decided to do something about it. He wrote an e-mail to Amazon and then he posted his anti-cockfighting rant on every local blog he had access to. Reid's message: If Amazon didn't stop selling cockfighting material, he would stop being an Amazon customer. He wants his friends to do the same.

The Humane Society of the United States has been trying to get Amazon to stop selling cockfighting and dogfighting material for years. In fact, they have filed a lawsuit against Amazon, arguing that the federal Animal Welfare Act prohibits any person from "knowingly use[ing] the mail service of the U.S. Postal Service or any interstate instrumentality for purposes of promoting or in any other manner furthering an animal fighting venture."

Two of the cockfighting magazines Amazon sells, Gamecock and Feathered Warrior, are full of ads for fighting birds and cockfighting paraphernalia, the Humane Society says, and are thus in violation of federal law.

"Amazon.com needs to follow the law," says John Goodwin, a spokesman for the Humane Society. "This is not an issue about what is controversial, but rather about what is legal and illegal. It is illegal to use the United States Postal Service to facilitate illegal animal fights. Yet Amazon.com sells cockfighting magazines that contain advertisements for illegal activity. Since those are shipped through the post office, they are violating the law." (The HSUS has also filed suit against the U.S. Postal Service for shipping the magazines.)

To date, Amazon, which has more than $8 billion in annual sales, has refused to stop selling the magazines. Reid doesn't understand why.

"I can't figure it out," he says. "How big could the market be?"

(According to the Humane Society, in 2006 Gamecock ranked at number 501 and Feathered Warriorat 2,016 of the 17,000 magazines Amazon.com sold that year).

After Reid wrote to Amazon, he says he got the following e-mail response from Eric Layne of Amazon.com's executive customer relations: "Let me assure you that Amazon.com does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts; we do support the right of every individual to choose his or her own reading material or entertainment.

"Therefore, Amazon.com continues to provide a wide variety of products and does not engage in censorship, regardless of our own individual tastes and beliefs."

But for Reid, this misses the point. It isn't about censorship, he says, or what's legal and illegal. It's about making choices.

"Amazon has chosen not to sell porn. I don't see why they couldn't make the same decision about cockfighting and dogfighting magazines. Maybe it just comes down to pit bulls and roosters aren't human enough for the world to care."

 
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