In the heartland of America, where prairie winds whisper of tradition and the soil speaks of toil, a controversy of feathers and fury has plucked at the consciousness of Oklahoma. At the eye of this storm is none other than Governor Kevin Stitt, whose recent video missive in support of a contentious sport has ruffled more than just feathers.
The governor’s message was a salute to the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission, a consortium of individuals united under the banner of gamefowl enthusiast camaraderie, and—more controversially—in the pursuit of easing cockfighting sanctions. This subterranean current of Oklahoma culture pits avian combatants against each other in clandestine rings where life and death dance on the edge of razor-sharp talons.
Cockfighting, a relic of a bygone era, marred Oklahoma’s landscape with its legality until a 2002 referendum saw it exiled from the kingdom of acceptable pastimes. Yet, like a phoenix, the topic rises from the ashes, carried aloft by the words of the governor himself.
“I wanted to take a moment to cheer you on from the sidelines,” declared Stitt in his video, igniting the contentious debate anew. His charisma does little to veil the horror of the blood sport, where the frantic flutter of wings and the crowing of combatants heralds an oftentimes fatal conclusion.
Such endorsements have not gone unnoticed. The Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission had already cast its fiscal net over Oklahoma’s legislative body, with more than $70,000 in donations laid out for lawmakers, of which the governor himself has supposedly received a $2,000 share.
Yet, backlash is swift and staunch, as figures such as former Governor Frank Keating step forth to castigate what they see as a step backward for the state. “An embarrassment,” Keating labels the current spectacle, one that suffocates the progress of a great state under the musty veil of history and cruelty.
And while Stitt’s office counters with claims of allegiance not to the cruelty of the practice but to the broader brushstroke of Oklahoma agriculture, the roots of the controversy sink deep into ethical soil. The question that rings clear as the sunrise over the Oklahoma plains is whether the past practices of cockfighting ought to rein back progress, or whether, as the times have changed, so too should the traditions of the Sooner State.