The Latest Animal Rights Cause in Wisconsin: 'No Pig Wrestling'

My hometown of Viroqua, Wisconsin, has become statewide news because a left-wing group called The Alliance for Animals is protesting the annual Wild West Days -- in particular, its popular "Hog Wrasslin" contest. The LaCrosse Tribune had the story:

VIROQUA — A Madison-based animal rights group has taken a public stand against one of the biggest attractions for Viroqua’s Wild West Days — pig wrestling.

The Alliance for Animals wrote organizers of Wild West Days in late May, saying it had conferred with two attorneys who are of the opinion that pig wrestling “is in clear violation of the Wisconsin Statutes.”

The Alliance notes in particular Chapter 951, titled “Crimes Against Animals,” which outlaws cockfighting, dogfighting and any other similar fighting between animals or animals and humans.

Wild West Days organizer Jeffrey Menn said his group conferred with Vernon County District Attorney Tim Gaskell and officials from state and other groups to be certain the activities were legal. He said the 2010 “Hog Wrasslin’” competition, set for Aug. 21, will go on as scheduled.

The Alliance for Animals is radical enough to insist on their website that human participants and spectators could be hurt: "We are deeply concerned about the illegality of these events and the threat they pose to animals, participants, and spectators." They argue that not only are the wrestlers breaking the law, so are the spectators:

Not only does the alliance believe those who operate or participate in pig wrestling competitions are breaking the law, it also claims anyone “being a spectator” of such an event  also is in violation of Chapter 951. Those prosecuted under Chapter 951 could face felony charges.

“There’s no necessity to have a gladiatorial display of human brawn against an animal who doesn’t want to participate,” [the Alliance's Lynn] Pauly said.

“Our intent is always education. We believe that people are compassionate and moral and deep down, after thinking about it for a while, people will see (pig wrestling) is not right.”

Liberals always define "education" as demonizing their enemies: "After our long cold winter we welcome the farmers' markets, Brewers baseball games, family picnics, gardening, and sunshine. Unfortunately, summer in Wisconsin also means that the mean and stupid are bored, so local pig wrestling contests abound. Pig wrestling is cruel, embarrassing for most Wisconsinites, and against the law."

The Tribune story did not include the point that the animal is also not solicited for an opinion as to whether it wants to be pork chops and bacon. The D.A. was not impressed:

Gaskell said he reviewed the letter from Alliance for Animals and spoke with Pauly. He said he disagrees with the legal position of Alliance for Animals.

“When they specifically mention the examples, the intention is to maim or kill the animal,” Gaskell said. “With the pig wrestling,  there’s absolutely no intent to injure the animal. I would not prosecute the organizers, participants or the spectators.”

Viroqua’s “hog wrasslin’” competition  draws more than 1,000 spectators and about 30 teams competing in men’s and women’s divisions.

In the competition, a three-person team in a mud-filled pit attempts to grasp a pig and put it backside-first into a barrel. The team that gets the pig into the barrel the quickest wins.

Rules prohibit grabbing a pig’s leg or snout and putting the pig under the mud. About two dozen pigs are placed in pens near the pig wrestling pit to be used in the competition. Sometimes fewer than a quarter of the teams get the pig in the barrel; some teams barely get a hand on the pig.

Apparently, the Alliance for Animals would prefer a pig-massaging competition:

People who run animal sanctuaries such as Pigs Peace Sanctuary describe pigs with human characteristics, because they've observed that, like us, they enjoy massages, listening to music, and playing.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis