King, a Republican from Iowa, opposes a federal prohibition on watching animal fights or inducing someone else to do so, he said, because state laws are sufficient to police such crimes and because the federal government doesn’t have the resources to commit to enforcement.
“I’m saying the states do a good job of regulating and enforcing animal fighting,” King said. “They’re not coming to me saying that they need the help. It’s a province of the states. It is the concept of federalism is for the states to regulate these things, not for the federal government to do so.”
King also questioned the federal government’s authority to enact laws regarding animal fighting, and questioned whether such practices even occur.
“There’s no federal nexus in what goes on in an animal fight, if they actually take place anymore — I’m not hearing that they do,” he said. “Can anyone give me a list of animals fights that have taken place in Iowa? No, they’re against the law.”
The comments, which came during a speaking engagement at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, follow statements in which King has provided less legalistic explanations of his opposition to the measure, which was offered as an amendment to the farm bill currently under consideration in Congress.
In a tele-townhall meeting last month, King likened animal fighting – like dog- or cockfights – to fights between people, and said it would be wrong to restrict animal fighting while fights among people – like boxing, or martial arts, perhaps – are allowed to continue.
“It’s wrong to rate animals above human beings,” King said.
The comments caused a frenzy in the liberal-leaning press, with outlets like Think Progress and Wonkette sharply criticizing King’s comments. The attention ratcheted up with a 4-minute bit this week by comedian and faux news host Stephen Colbert of the Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report.”
In most cases, the stories drew a distinction lacking in King’s analogy: humans have a choice in deciding to fight; animals do not.
In Colbert’s bit, he mockingly lauded King for “standing up to the puppy huggers” and castigated the congressman for appearing to justify cruelty to animals by the existence of cruelty enacted by humans on one another. The segment became progressively raunchier, and ended with a photo-illustration merging King’s face with that of a puppy.
When the issue came up at the Partnership this morning, King said the entire controversy amounted to a “completely irrational hyperventilation from the left.”
When asked about Colbert’s routine specifically, King dismissed the comedian.
“I recall Steve Colbert testifying before the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives and obscenely insulting Iowans,” he said, referring to a 2010 hearing in which Colbert suggested the phrase “corn packer” was a “derogatory term for a gay Iowan.”
“So I don’t pay any attention to him anymore,” King said. “He’s in a separate league.”
by Jason Noble