Cockfighting embarrassment to state

By Ned Cantwell: State columnist

Here’s what we need to do. We need to schedule one final cockfighting derby, the Superbowl of Cockfights, pitting the top fighting roosters from New Mexico against the best Louisiana has to offer.

We’ll call it Bloody Sunday I.

Throw up some temporary bleachers in a remote field 25 miles from Hobbs. Bring in the Budweiser truck. Have lots of money changers ready to handle the betting. Sharpen up your razors, kids, this is going to be one dandy of a massacre. Call ESPN. Only the fittest shall strut.

This one final tribute to cockfighting will honor the noble, genteel, culturally embedded New Mexico sport which, much like the weaker bird with the dullest razor blades and less potent drugs in its system, is about to die.

Cockfighting is on its way out. Here’s why:

Up to this point cockfighting has “not been on my radar screen.” That has been the position of Gov. Bill Richardson until now. You can interpret that in different ways: He may be saying he would rather worry about hungry kids than dying birds. Or, there is no way to get involved in this issue without losing votes on the East Side.

Cockfighting recently took a huge leap. It went from “not on my radar screen” to, “(the governor) plans to address the cockfighting issue in the upcoming legislative session.” The latter pledge was made by Big Bill’s press guy, Paul Shipley.

We would like to think that the guv is finally coming to his senses on the issue. Actually, he was responding to a political threat.

Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez brought the governor to his knees when he made public his theory that Bill Richardson must adopt an anti-cockfighting position or get rid of those visions of the White House dancing in his head. Mayor Marty’s premise is “You can’t be president of the United States if you think cockfighting is a good thing.”

The Richardson camp’s response to the mayor’s challenge was noteworthy from two aspects. It puts cockfighting on the agenda and it shows the governor can take a spanking and publicly acknowledge it. Although privately, one might suspect, Richardson called Chavez and said, “Shut the hell up!”

Lisa Jennings, the spirited and untiring campaigner against cockfighting by dint of her passion and her job as executive director of the Animal Protection Society of New Mexico, is guardedly optimistic that the next New Mexico legislative session could end cockfighting once and for all.

Certainly, the governor must ultimately join her cause, not for the patently ridiculous threat that cockfighting will have anything to do with the presidency, but simply because getting rid of this embarrassment is the right thing to do.

Even Jay Leno is making fun of New Mexico and its cockfighting, prompting my personal outrage because that’s been my gig for many, many years. Mind your own business, Jay, and shut the hell up!

Ummm, I mean, Mr. Leno, sir.

Ned Cantwell often gets the bird. Contact him at: