With the third co-defendant taking a plea (likely in exchange for testimony against Michael Vick, the embattled Atlanta Falcons quarterback is said to be working out a plea deal with the federal government. Vick, for those who aren’t following this story, was charged with engaging in a dog fighting conspiracy. The allegations in the indictment were very ugly.
For a particular dog fight, the participants would establish a purse for the winning side, ranging from the hundreds to thousands of dollars. Participants and spectators would also place side-bets on the fight. The dog fight would last until the death or surrender of the losing dog. At the end of the fight, the losing dog was sometimes put to death by drowning, hanging, gunshot, electrocution, or another method.
Amazon.com is the “sole retailer of subscriptions to the animal fighting magazines and the only outlet for animal fighters to obtain subscriptions over the Internet.” It also sells dog fighting and cock fighting books and DVDs. The Humane Society filed suit against Amazon, publishers and distributors back in February arguing that by selling the products, Amazon is engaging in conduct outside the protections of the First Amendment because “it promotes and incites criminal animal cruelty.” In light of the national attention focused on how abhorrent dog fighting is given the Vick indictment, the Humane Society sent out emails encouraging people to send a message to Amazon to stop providing this material for sale.
Ron at GalleyCat, while not being in favor of Amazon selling such items, noted that to force Amazon from selling such material might have a chilling effect:
As a former Amazon “book review editor,” I was present for internal arguments about books dealing with equally controversial subjects, particularly books about pedophile culture. And if you give in on the really blatant “boylove” stuff, the reasoning ran, eventually somebody comes after you for the Jock Sturges and Sally Mann books, so you had to keep the goalposts all the way at the end of the field to keep everything in play, if I can strain a metaphor badly.
I’m probably more of the opinion that Amazon should desist from selling this type of material, even though I am a staunch defender of the First Amendment. It does strike me as closer to materials promulgating the pedophile culture than an educational look into the dog fighting phenomenon.