Trial of Two Centuries
Opening Statements
Public Executions
Human v. Human Sport
Animal v. Animal Sport Human v. Animal Sport Closing Statements Witness List End Notes & Bibliography

The human v. animal sport examined during the trial is cock throwing.

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?

Schairbaum: Yes.

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?

Leigh: Yes.

Defense: Do people have the right to kill the food of their choice as they see fit?

Leigh: Yes.

Defense: So, could it be possible that these cocks will be eaten afterwards?

Leigh: Yes.


[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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