Saturday, May 24, 2008

Developments in the HSUS Lawsuit Against Amazon.com

As regular readers of this space know, I have my differences with the HSUS. However, over the past year they've done some very impressive work. I don't think I'll ever agree with everything they do, but their recent direction is really encouraging. I still hope that one day I can support them unconditionally.

The HSUS sued Amazon.com and two cockfighting magazines that Amazon distributes to stop selling cockfighting materials online, which is a violation of federal law. These magazines cover the cockfighting "scene" and contain ads for places to purchase fighting animals, supplies, and training materials, in violation of federal law. Amazon is the only place on the web one can subscribe to these publications, The Gamecock and The Feathered Warrior. It's interesting to note that Amazon used to carry dogfighting DVDs as well (also illegal) but pulled those down in 2007 after threats of legal action from the HSUS.

Amazon is defending their right to sell such publications as a freedom of speech issue, which it's not; advertising the sale of fighting roosters, fighting dogs, and materials that have no use other than in fighting such as gaffs are all illegal acts and not protected speech under the law. They don't carry or defend child porn, or snuff films - material also clearly illegal under the law. They choose not to carry some material that is legal but potentially offensive, like porn DVDs. Their defense of this material is curious - how could carrying such a limited-interest publication be worth alienating so many?

One of the magazines in question, The Gamecock, has settled with the Humane Society. It is hoped that the other two defendants will follow suit. You can sign the HSUS's petition, which will be delivered to Amazon, but in addition to that I would suggest that you call Amazon's customer service phone number at 800-201-7575 and cancel your account, politely explaining to them why you're doing so.

I used to spend thousands of dollars a year with Amazon, both for myself and for businesses that I purchase items for, but I haven't placed an order with them since early 2007 when I discovered their support for animal bloodsport. I won't return until they renounce support for animal fighting. Because I've left Amazon I have discovered many better retailers like Cyberguys, Zappos, and Betterworld.com.

See for yourself what they're selling:
The Gamecock
Grit and Steel
The Feathered Warrior

Thanks for your help.

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