Friday, June 18, 2010

Of Chickens and Thumbs

I was watching the NBA finals when I was smacked in the face by one stark cultural difference between the US and Philippines. A few minutes prior, I had been watching the news on CNN. The news world has obsessed for two months about the Gulf Coast oil disaster, replete with pictures of oil-covered fowl being scraped of the foul muck that was likely to kill thousands of the birds. This particular newscast featured one family in Denver who sold their home so they could head south to help clean up the coast.

Animal rights activists are a force in the US.

Then, several times during the NBA game, I was subjected to Thunderbird commercials pronouncing the Philippines as “the cockfighting nation”. Sabong was the word used, I believe. The video showed a bunch of orderly, clean, smiling Filipinos, conjures up great patriotic music, and then shows two roosters being squared up to fight. Finally it cuts to a patriotic theme and the Thunderbird close.

The outcome, of course, for one of the birds, is a fate worse than oil.

And I don't know about you, but the cockfight crowds I have seen are hardly the well-moneyed set; they smoke and drink and spit and are grubby. It is the sport of the poor, if you consider it a sport. Were the gladiators vs. lions a sport, in Rome, I wonder?

Much of the social advancement in the US has occurred because of the outcries of the lunatic left, you know - those people arguing for homosexual rights, opposing wars, saving whales and trees, insisting on food labels so consumer can make informed dietary choices, permitting medical marijuana, and other extreme views that seem to me to be essentially of kindness.

I don't get upset about cock-fighting, as I've seen seen chickens swung by the neck until their heads pop off; the body runs around on reflexes for a while as the red red blood spews out the severed neck. Then I dined on the chicken along with Mom's mashed potatoes and wonderful cinnamon rolls. I figure only vegetarians have the standing to protest, and then, only if they believe vegetables have no feelings as they are hacked, chopped, stewed and eaten.

It is a hard, hard world from some perspectives.

The Philippines is not the only country cruel to lesser animals as a sport.

In Portugal and Spain, they still stick bulls with knives and spears. In the US at the rodeo, they still rope and wrench the necks of young steers; as if – for the steer - having one's chingaderos chopped off is not humiliation enough. In the Philippines, they set chickens against one another to fight to the death and, not even a sport, let hundreds of thousands of disease-ridden, flea-infested dogs roam free amongst the kids. In the Middle East pious folk kill innocent people in the name of God's goodness. There is a sporting event to end all sporting event.

I understand that the genome mapping of humans has shown that Man has about the same number and kinds of genes as many animals; indeed, some animals have more complex genetic structures than humans.

If I think about it, that makes sense.

We delude ourselves if we think we are some kind of higher animal. The main distinction between us and creatures is our opposing thumb and ability to twist grunts into communicable words.

If you drop a dog in the middle of nowhere, he will find his way home. If you drop a human in the middle of nowhere, he will likely die, cursing intelligibly and clawing uselessly at the rocks with his opposable thumb.

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