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Chicken boxing and April Fools’ Day

Chicken boxing and April Fools’ Day

On April Fools’ Day, the Louisiana Legislature was in session. Perhaps the apex of legislative insanity ensued on April 1 when our elected officials debated the legality and ethics of “chicken boxing.” It was not a joke.

Yes, chicken boxing became both a great occasion for humor and an embarrassment to the state. News outlets nationwide picked up the story. Sen. JP Morrell (D-New Orleans) proposed legislation to close the loopholes in the state cockfighting ban. Slick and enterprising fowl breeders bypassed the fighting cock prohibition by using sparring “gloves” during rooster bouts. In other words, they’ve turned the birds into boxers instead of fighters.

This is the logic of Louisiana politics on public display.

No doubt, when the legal authorities aren’t watching, the gaffs and knives come out and cockfighting is back to the bad old days.

Undone by Morrell’s attempt to make cockfighting paraphernalia illegal, Sen. Elbert Guillory (R-Opelousas), a rising star in GOP politics, defended the practice of chicken boxing, which he understood to be well within in Morrell’s legislative sights. Guillory, a man with an unparalleled love for the photo-op, posed for pictures while holding little rubber boxing gloves fitted for roosters.

Guillory, an African-American, was a Republican but then switched parties in order to win his seat in a heavily Democratic district. Last year he switched back to Republican with much fanfare. He is also a man who made headlines a year ago for his praise of witch doctors as a rationale to keep Louisiana’s embarrassing creationist K-12 “science” law on the books.

Indeed, the debate over chicken boxing will continue, as will Louisiana being the laughingstock of America.

However, we have another debate that is to me just as insane as boxing birds, perhaps worse.

Rep. Chris Broadwater (R-Hammond) is on the defensive about HB 244, the “gun shows on college campuses bill.” The proposed law, according to Broadwater, is simply a gun safety bill.

I have read HB 244 bill, gotten an email and a text message from Rep. Broadwater regarding the bill, and read articles written about the bill.

Two facts come to mind. First, there is NOTHING in HB 244 to prevent gun shows on college campuses or even in the facilities of the elementary and secondary laboratory schools at SLU, Southern University, and LSU. If Rep. Broadwater had wanted to prevent “gun shows” from occurring, he could have written into the language allowing for no more than two or three guns to be auctioned or sold at events.

Second, if Rep. Broadwater wanted to make a real statement promoting campus safety, he could have stopped any and all groups from selling or auction guns on campus under the Gun Free School Zones Act.

This did not happen. We now have a bad bill that makes a bad statement. We can do better.

I am proud of SLU professor Dr. James Kirylo and the SLU faculty senate for making a strong statement against gun sales on college campuses through a recent resolution. In a climate of fear created by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s assault on higher education, it is courageous when college employees take a stand on an important issue. LSU’s faculty senate is scheduled to take up a similar resolution soon.

We don’t need to get stuck on the words “gun shows” or “gun auctions.” Likewise, let’s not get distracted by “chicken boxing” or “chicken fighting.” Who cares?
At the end of the day, all of this is a bunch of foolishness as Louisiana continues to go to the birds. We have elected officials who make it April Fools’ Day all year long here in the Pelican State. Unfortunately, we allow them to bring embarrassment to the state when we create an atmosphere of disaster by voting them into office.

Dayne Sherman resides in Ponchatoula. He covers the South like kudzu and promises that he never burned Atlanta. He is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is daynesherman.com

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