Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Amazon.Com Continues To Sell Magazines That Glorify and Incite Cockfighting: Will They Stop?

This is just too bad for Amazon. I just ordered stuff from them too, but no more. Seems they have no problem egging on and supporting the brutal sport of cockfighting. Below you will find out more information about this issue. Also visit www.hsus.org/amazon for a video about the Amazon.com cockfighting issue.

Article:

Amazon has no business selling Feathered Warrior

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/
archive/2007/02/26/EDGBDOA3ES1.DTL

Wayne Pacelle

Monday, February 26, 2007

Opinion


The First Amendment protects speech. It does not protect criminal conduct. So you have to wonder why on earth Amazon.com, the retail giant, insists on trafficking in criminal materials in the name of free speech.

Amazon executives and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have been at odds lately over the company's sale of materials that incite cockfighting -- a crime in all states but two, and in many a felony. The Feathered Warrior and the Gamecock may not be on your reading list, but for thousands of lawbreakers, they are a must-read. In fact, these journals of the blood sport are often among the top 500 sellers in the magazine category at Amazon.com -- which is believed to be the only online retail seller that will have anything to do with them.

At last count, Amazon was selling 27 books, monographs and magazines about cockfighting. If your passion in life is watching two tormented birds tear each other to pieces, in a bloody pit surrounded by shouting gamblers, Amazon is the place to go.

Two of these publications, in particular, should have set off alarm bells in the Amazon legal department, because from cover to cover they are filled with specific criminal solicitations. In the past year, Feathered Warrior and Gamecock have carried no fewer than 1,600 pages of ads soliciting specific illegal acts, mainly the purchase and sale of fighting birds. The latest edition of Gamecock even advertised the sale of an illegal cockfighting arena in rural Kentucky -- where HSUS investigators went undercover at the Saturday night cockfights and found a mob of hundreds staging fights between animals.

As usual in these spectacles, razors were attached to the birds' legs to maximize the bloodletting, the roosters were drugged to heighten their aggression and bets ran in the thousands of dollars. The Animal Welfare Act makes it a federal crime to sell fighting birds across state lines or to ship them out of the country, or to ship materials that promote animal fighting -- but you'd never know that by perusing these offerings at Amazon.

The company's lawyers have strained to find refuge in the First Amendment. But their argument that free speech is protected and that the retailer should not be selecting what consumers should read confuses the expression of an opinion with the solicitation of a crime -- a point easily settled by comparing Amazon's policies on cockfighting and on narcotics trafficking. Amazon sells High Times, a magazine that argues for the legalization of drugs. In its pages, you will find plenty of editorial comment about the legalization of narcotics. All of that is protected speech, as would be a journal advocating legalization of cockfighting, and no one would quarrel with the sale of such magazines.

What you will not find in High Times, however, or in any other publication available at Amazon.com, are mail-order advertisements for the sale of narcotics. You won't find a methamphetamine lab for sale, either. None of these items is advertised in materials available on Amazon, nor are obscene materials, or solicitations from child pornographers to be found on the site. Of course not: They are crimes, and Amazon is not in the business of abetting them.

Indeed, this is a company that prides itself on going even further than minimal legal requirements, and claims the right to unilaterally remove any item it sells without explanation -- a right it has exercised by declining, for example, to sell sexually explicit materials even if they might qualify as protected speech.

So why, in the case of animal cruelty, has Amazon suddenly decided that anything goes, and one man's criminal solicitation is another man's "protected speech"? Since when does any company get to decide for itself which crimes are worth enforcing, and which laws it will take the trouble to respect?

The HSUS has provided Amazon with extensive evidence showing the cruelty, viciousness and corruption of the cockfighting trade. We have explained to company executives that cockfighting is not only a tawdry industry all by itself, but also a breeder of other crimes, social ills and forms of violence. We have reminded them that across America police are trying to crack down on illegal cockfighting -- and it hardly helps law-enforcement agencies when Amazon serves as a national courier for the cockfighting subculture.

So far, all of these appeals to corporate responsibility have come to nothing. Cock fighters do not have many apologists left in America. Yet somehow Amazon has found itself to be their champion.

HSUS has filed suit against the magazine publishers and Amazon in District of Columbia Superior Court and filed a legal petition with the district attorney in King County, Wash., where Amazon has its corporate headquarters. It can still be resolved if Amazon's founder, Jeff Bezos, will step in and make it clear that his company will not violate federal animal cruelty laws. He has built an otherwise fine company, and now its good name is at risk. Bezos was once named "Man of the Year" by Time magazine. He might want to act quickly, before he earns the same honor from Feathered Warrior.

Wayne Pacelle is president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. For a video about the Amazon issue, go to www.hsus.org/amazon

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