Letter to Congressman King re: his dog fighting remarks

Dear Representative King:

I’m baffled by the remarks you made last week during your “tele-townhall” meeting. I’m also stunned by your follow-up “clarifying” comments.

Your original statement:

It’s a federal crime to watch animals fight or to induce someone else to watch an animal fight, but it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting. There’s something wrong with the priorities of people that think like that.”

Mr. King, are you comparing dog fighting to the sport of professional boxing? You know that human fighters do so of their own volition, get paid big bucks, receive top-notch medical care, and can opt out of their chosen pursuit at any time, right? To my knowledge, none of the partcipants are raped or maimed or starved prior to their fights.

Dogs, on the other hand, are forced into the ring, can be heard screaming in terror during the fights, get no medical care for their broken jaws or chewed-off ears, and are often “paid” for their performance with electrocution, beatings, drowning, and other forms of torture.

There’s no comparison. To say it’s apples to oranges is even too generous. It’s like comparing the psychology trials I was paid $15 for during college — find the green 5 in a sea of yellow 7s and blue 4s — to Mengele’s Auschwitz experiments. Yes, it’s that outrageous and that inappropriate.

Later in the week you posted a video, supposedly to clarify your remarks, in which you stated:

We need to respect humans more than we do animals. Whenever we start elevating animals up to, to above that of humans, we’ve crossed a moral line. For example, if there’s a sexual predator out there who has impregnated a young girl, say a 13-year-old girl that sexual predator can pick that girl off the playground at the middle school and haul her across the state line and force her to get an abortion to eradicate the evidence of his crime, and bring her back and drop her off at the swing set, and that’s not against the law in the United States of America.”

Let me get this straight. You’re saying that because statutory rape, kidnapping, and forcing someone to have an abortion against her will are all perfectly legal here in the U.S., we should tolerate animal cruelty too?

Ok, got it. Airtight premise. Except that rape and kidnapping are illegal in all 50 states. Even Iowa. (I’m pretty sure.)

You go on:

“I have told the people who believe we should focus all of our efforts on the, on anything they can bring that limits activity around animals, that we need to respect and revere human life first, animal life second.”

Hate to be a stickler, but again, a problem with your argument: The goal of animal advocacy is not to limit activity around animals. Our mission is simple: eliminate cruelty, suffering, and needless death. How is not taking a stand against dog fighting respecting and revering human life?

I’ll even take it a step farther: Why should animals suffer so that people can wear fur coats? Or eat foie gras? Or Botox their wrinkles away? How can we possibly defend inflicting horrendous — and unnecessary — suffering on those around us?

You say, Mr. King, because we’re human.

But that argument makes no more sense and provides no more explanation than similar “logic” used in ages past: Because we’re white. Because we’re male. Because we’re wealthy. Because we’re straight. Neither gender nor color nor species nor age matter when it comes to reverence and respect for others. “Can they suffer?” is the only relevant barometer.

You are right about one thing, Mr. King: We have crossed a moral line. But we didn’t do so by “elevating animals above humans.” We crossed that line when we decided we could mistreat others for our own gain, just because we can.

You conclude your clarifying statement by assuring your constituents that while you’ve never started a dog fight, you’ve broken up several tussles amongst your own pet Labs. Animal cruelty is no joke, Mr. King. But if this is a joke to you, an issue to make light of, I ask the people of Iowa’s 5th district to strongly reconsider their choice in leaders.


Leslie Smith