The human v. animal sport examined during the trial is cock throwing.
[The Prosecution calls noted German intellectual Mark Schairbaum.]
Prosecution: Describe the game of cock-throwing?
Schairbaum: Normally, someone ties a cock to a stake. Standing around twenty yards from the cock, men compete by attempting to hit it with the chosen projectile.1
Prosecution: Could you please describe the "projectile."
Schairbaum: The weapons usually thrown are either cudgels or broomsticks.2
Prosecution: Are there are other throwing games that do not harm animals?
Prosecution: Then why do people play ones that torment animals?
Schairbaum: They enjoy the supremacy in their ability to over-power other species. These people take out their aggressions on the ones that can not speak.
[Defense Cross-examines Schairbaum.]
Defense: Could this game be fun?
Schairbaum: For some, yes.
Defense: Why deprive the people of their entertainment?
Schairbaum: Because they are harming others.
[The prosecution calls former cock-thrower T.M. Leigh.]
Prosecution: From your personal experiences, what happens to the cock as a result of the throwing?
Leigh: It dies.
Prosecution: Does the cock die instantaneously?
Leigh: No, the competitor at times has to keep on throwing at the animal for it to die.3
Prosecution: Does the cock suffer?
Leigh: Yes, its body is quite marked up with wounds. Its legs are often broken.4
Prosecution: Does cock-throwing pose any other dangers?
Leigh: Sometimes the sticks go off course and hit people.
[The Defense Cross-examines Leigh.]
Defense: Are these animals that are being killed regularly killed anyway?
Defense: Do people have the right to kill the food of their choice as they see fit?
Defense: So, could it be possible that these cocks will be eaten afterwards?
[The Prosecution calls Henry Brand to the stand.]
Prosecution: Is cock-throwing good for society?
Brand: It is an amusement fit only for the bloodiest savages, and not for humanized men, much less for Christians. A barbarous custom.5
[Mr. Brand is removed from the courtroom by guards and asked not to return.]
COMMENTARY: Both the defense and prosecutions' arguments are hurt by the scarcity of evidence still available at the end of the 20th century. The lack of living cock-throwing spectators and throwers still around today also takes away chances for oral histories.
Copyright © 1999 Lara Zador and Jason Winokur. All rights reserved.
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