A professor explains the allure of cockfighting

August 5, 2010
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The Indiana Gaming Control Commission says it has busted an Indiana farm that breeds roosters for fighting, having been tipped off about the operation from the Humane Society of America after it saw an article on the farm in Pit Games, a Philipino magazine that follows cockfighting.

The owner of the birds, Ed “Wally” Clemons, who kept the birds at Fairland southeast of Indianapolis, hasn’t been arrested, according to the Shelbyville News. However, he could face misdemeanor or felony charges. Here's another account from WTHR-TV Channel 13.

Why do these kinds of incidents keep popping up? Dogfighting is still a problem in Indianapolis and is part of the reason the city has so many problems with pit bulls. In other words, what’s the attraction of cockfighting, dogfighting and other violent pastimes? What was the allure to Michael Vick?

Margaret Ann Keaton, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Indianapolis, thinks the answer can be found in Freud’s conclusion that everything humans do is ultimately motivated by seeking sexual gratification. We’re all hedonists, and some of us branch into animal fighting to self-gratify.

Just what does fighting have to do with sex? Read on.

Keaton sees human development as moving from caves to Medieval gladiators to today—but without a great deal of fundamental improvement. People who get into animal fighting either weren’t exposed to the civilizing influences of schools, parents and churches, or they rejected those influences.

“This is just sort of an offshoot” of gladiators,” she says. “They’re getting a thrill out of watching animals destroy each other.”

It’s not a perfect parallel, she adds. The cockfighting and dogfighting crowds are too chicken (pun intended) to actually climb into a ring themselves. They’re passive-aggressives who’d rather watch than risk their own skin.

Still, the violence is a turn-on.

Keaton, whose research has focused on violence and aggression, says serial murderers and other repeat criminals tell her of finding sexual gratification in stalking, rape and other mayhem.

That’s her explanation. What’s yours? Any thoughts about cockfighting?

  • maybe
    Depending on which expert you consult within the soft sciences, Freud is viewed reverently by some, not so much by others. I do agree we are motivated on very deep levels by the search for sexual gratification...I don't know if cock/dogfighting appeals to that search on some inate level, but I find it disgusting personally, and I think people who revel in it are personally reprehensible, and clearly mentally ill (yes, Michael Vick is mentally ill, and no matter how much good he attempts to do to make amends, whatever was in his head that caused him to celebrate and fund the inhumane and sick treatment of his animals is still in there...if you want to forgive him or give him a 2nd chance, go ahead, but dont' forget what he did...he is sick, and it will manifest itself again at some point). I do agree that they are cowards (the article said chickens) in the worst sense of the word, celebrating violence done by/to those who have no choice but to participate in it. These people have ruined the reputation of a breed of dog that is not dangerous if left to its own nature, caused much unecessary personal injury/death to innocent people who have been attacked by pits who were trained to be violent, and it is not differrent with this moron who bred chickens to fight, charge him and lock him up...these people are reprehensible..I suppose it is fascinating to speculate what drives a person to enjoy this...but it does not matter much. It needs to be eradicated in our society...our society will ultimately be judged by how we treat the helpless and defenseless, of which domestic animals are among. The link between doing violence to animals, celebrating animal violence, and our worst, most heinous criminals is well established. We need to do all we can to stop it...
  • cockfighting
    You are right, something has to be done about the humane society and it's vegan members. everytime they raid one of these cockfights. they kill everything on the permises including hens baby chick and roosters. I don't know what kind of thrill they get out of it but it is wrong. the cockfighter are letting these animals do what mother nature has endowed them with, gameness, in the pit they have an opportunitiy to prove themselves and the survivors continue to be treated with the greatest of care. they get fresh fruits,the best grains and alot of love from the owners..when the hsus gets their hands on them it is 100% death for sure. no survivors. contrary to what the article says it is the animal lovers that love and protect animals more than children. this is where they should spend their political power and money, not protecting a chicken.I have never seen any scientific proof that heinous criminals fought roosters. If you have those statistics please print them here, I don't thin there is any proof.
    thank you. tony villalobos, oklahoma, don't be afraid to give your real names when making comments brave souls.
  • gamefowl breeder
    Actually there has not been a link established between those who breed gamefowl and violent criminals. This is just propaganda from hsus. Hsus believes the old saying, if you tell a lie often enough, the lie eventually becomes perceived as the truth. There was actually a university study done which gave conclusive evidence that gamefowl breeders were more likely to be hard working middle class citizens, who were married and would stay married. In other words, the gamefowl breeders you think of as criminals, are the ones who exhibit more of the family values the country claims is needed most in these times. So I guess we need to pass legislation that everyone must raise at least a few of the roosters, instead of trying to make the breeders into criminals.
  • gamefowl breeder
    I am a member of the indiana gamefowl breeders association and know wally! He is not a bad person and it is a shame that the HSUS is turning him into a deamon. Cock fighting was still legal in a few states until recently. When the new law took effect HR371 I beleive. It prevented the shipment of roosters for fighting and made it illegal to ship gaffs. That hurt a lot of good people that depended on the chickens for money. I would not be afraid to say it put thousands of people out of a job. I have met many good christian people through the roosters. I will never be able to understand why people donate so much money to the humane society? I have seen these animal rights people in action and would go as far as saying they are terrorists. Just look back to the sims poultry fires by bloomington indiana!! Those people burned trucks and poultry houses with thousands of live chickens in them!! Because they were vegetarians that thought the birds were being miss treated. These people are the same ones that will get your kids smoking pot and eating acid when they run off to college. Is this the land of the free? I would choose wally as a neighbor anyday over one of those nut jobs!!
  • I love chicken, but...
    Wow, the crazies came out of the woodwork for this blog post! I think I heard "Dualing Banjos" as I was reading some of these posts.

    I'm not a vegetarian or vegan... and I love to eat chicken, pork, beef, seafood, I can go on. But in no way shape do I think animals (chickens, dogs or any others) should be raised just to fight. I'm fine with raising them for food, because I'm fine with the food chain and we're above them in the food chain... but, raising them for the sole purpose just to watch them fight? Yeah, I watch boxing and UFC... but those guys have a choice of whether or not they want to fight and they don't have to fight until one is dead. You're just crazy if you want to watch animals fight to the death... and chickens and dogs don't really get a choice on whether or not they fight. And I believe a few of you are confusing some extreme animal rights groups with the Humane Society.

    So, unless you want to be associated with third-world countries... give up the animal fighting and move into the 21st century with the rest of the U.S.
    • Omnivore
      im afraid you got it all wrong there is no way you can make any thing fight and they wont fight till the death if they dont want to they can leave.for the Humane Society they have a vegetarian or vegan agenda and will not stop till where all eating grass with the cows

      • Trashy Readership
        The News Talk commentary gets worse every month. I'm going to have to stop reading.
      • Gamefowl Breeder
        Hey RON before you get on here talking crap, thinking you know everything why dont you get your facts straight. These birds are naturally born aggressive towards other male, and yes they will fight till the death it's in there blood.I do agree with Tony Villologos, I believe HUSU are terrorists, these people would save a rat over a human. They say they are saving these birds from fighting but, they are just going to be killed anyways.Why not give them a fighting chance. They were talking about how you can tell if a bird is used for fighting by having it's comb cut off and there spurs trimmed. For one if you show these birds without being dubbed automatic disqualification, If you ever been spurred in the legs you would understand why you would trim there spurs.Cody Davis, Indiana
        • i do know every thing
          im afraid you got it all wrong there is no way you can make any thing fight and they wont fight till the death if they dont want to they can leave.for the

          i said you cant make them fight they do it cause they want to its in the blood.if not they would not fight
        • Ron
          hey sorry Ron I got you mixed up with omnivore

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