Saturday, February 03, 2007

No Foul?

I'm trying to understand Roscoe Reynolds' logic, (I know that's an oxymoron, but stick with me for a moment), with this cockfighting bill.

Personally, I abhor the sport, but I know it has a longstanding history and tradition in Virginia. I also know that gamecocks are very well tended and taken care of by their breeders. (That's true of most breeders, anyway.) The libertarian side of me says that this sport does you and me no harm, so where's the foul?

Many will say that the state has an interest in ending the cruelty inflicted upon the birds. I have attended a cockfight or two, and many of my former neighbors in Buchanan County raised the birds. I have also done some work at several chicken processing plants. Believe me, the birds raised to fight have a much better life (and death) than those fat white chickens that end up on your plate.

On the whole, however, I could support a ban on the sport. If for no other reason than the fact that the sport has done such a poor job of regulating itself.

I guess the part of this most recent episode to put Martinsville and Henry County in a national spotlight (and by extension, Floyd, Patrick, and Carroll, since he does represent the entire area) that bothers me the most is that Roscoe goes from being a good little A. L. Philpott disciple who ignores cockfighting for 10 years, to entering a bill that makes even the ownership of a single gamecock a Class 6 Felony. Hell, drunk driving is not even Felony, and I'm pretty sure that no one has been killed by an out-of-control gamecock in years. Thankfully the full Senate saw fit to reduce the penalty to a misdemeanor as it was passed on to the House of Delegates.

Roscoe claims to have the best interest of the 20th District at heart, but he has been completely ineffective as a state Senator. During the last General Assembly session he introduced, along with 13 "Celebrating the life of..." bills and one that would make it easier for local governing bodies to ban dancing, exactly two bills that could or would have directly affected this region. One, a bill to extend the terms of an October 9, 2001, access grant made by VDOT to Floyd County until March 30, 2007, never even made it into a committee for a hearing. The other was his ubiquitous Highway 58 bond bill, which he cannot get passed.

So far this year he has reintroduced that same Highway 58 bond bill, knowing that it would never make it out of the Committee on Finance. Once again it didn't make it, failing last week. Along with what is sure to be numerous "Celebrating the life of..." bills he has these other efforts underway; A bill that endeavors to ensure that all Bail Bondsmen are residents of the Commonwealth. (A problem that I've considered to be of monumental proportions for years.) A bill to designate the third week in September, in 2007 and in each succeeding year, as Civics Education Week in Virginia. (It's about time we recognized Civics Education.) And along with Ward Armstrong, a bill that would Designate the Virginia Covered Bridge Festival held in Patrick County as the "Official Festival of the Commonwealth". (I'm worried about parking, though.)

Let's be realistic. Roscoe's been in the Senate for 10 years now, and finally decides that cockfighting deserves his utmost attention, and he can't even get his anti-cockfighting bill out of the Senate in the form he wishes. How can he ever get Highway 58 funded? Much less get the covered bridge festival designated as the "Official Festival of the Commonwealth", parking concerns notwithstanding.

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