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August 03, 2012

Dog Days of Summer for Congressman Steve King

Editor's note, Aug. 8, 2012: Stephen Colbert spoofed Rep. King's outrageous comments about animal fighting in this must-see segment of The Colbert Report

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Steve King's Dogfighting Defense
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Iowa Congressman Steve King is feeling the heat in the wake of his surreal attempts to justify his recent vote against an amendment to the farm bill to crack down on dogfighting and cockfighting; that amendment, which was approved by the House Agriculture Committee, sought to make it a federal crime to attend or bring a child to an animal fighting spectacle. About 20,000 people have viewed Rep. King’s reply to a question from a constituent who rightly wondered why he voted against a measure to crack down on this barbaric practice. Today, King posted a follow-up reply, which you can watch here, and that is also already racking up thousands of views. It’s called “Rep. Steve King (R-IA) Clarifies Statements on Dog Fighting.”

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Michelle Riley/The HSUS

The only thing is, he doesn’t. Rep. King’s latest reply is even more incoherent and strange than the original YouTube comment. He stresses that he values human life more than animal life. Okay, that’s fine. But because you value human life more than animal life, does that mean you should have no regard for animals and that there should be no legal standards in place to protect them? We can place a special value on humans but still believe that animal cruelty is wrong. Most people would do anything in the world for a family member, and there’s no one they value more than their parents or siblings or kids. But that doesn’t mean that a person would tolerate an atrocity toward a stranger. 

I’ve hit the topic of the congressman’s statements again partly because Steve King keeps mentioning me in his YouTube videos. I seem to be in his head. The fact is, Rep. King stands alone among federally elected officials in his extremist views about animal welfare. Every other member of Iowa’s Congressional delegation supports the measure to crack down on animal fighting, including Republicans Chuck Grassley and Tom Latham. During his tenure as a lawmaker, King has opposed just about all proposals to establish protections for animals―including a landmark agreement between United Egg Producers and The HSUS for the welfare of laying hens.

Animal fighting is a barbaric, despicable, and criminal practice, and the measure Rep. King voted against would shield young people from exposure to it. In the end, there’s no plausible defense for someone opposing legislation to crack down on animal fighting. Just like no one should defend rape or child abuse, no one should defend animal fighting, or say it’s not a crime worthy of our full attention as a society. To do so and be proud of it, in 2012, is a stunning act of folly.

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