In this corner, we have bill H. 3344...and in the other corner, bill H. 3143. Who's going to come out on top tonight?

This week, the South Carolina State House took up two bills, one to make cockfighting a felony and another to protect the victims of domestic violence. Both bills arrived at the Judiciary Committee, and both landed on the desk of State Rep. John Graham Altman III (R-119-Charleston). Well, one bill made it out of the ring alive - the cockfighting bill.

See, I guess there were a few too many legislators that agreed with Rep. Altman's assessment of the bill, as quoted in an interview by WISTV correspondent Kara Gormley:

"I think this bill is probably drafted out of an abundance of ignorance."
Altman has this to say about the cockfighting bill, also in the same interview:
"I was all for that. Cockfighting reminds me of the Roman circus, coliseum."

So, two bills concerning abuse are on the table - one that concerns the abuse of a real, live, thinking, breathing person - and another that concerns the abuse of an animal. Obviously any kind of abuse is wrong, but critics of the committee's action say that this makes women out to be less important than, well, cocks.

But it doesn't stop there!

Ok, so let's say we can chalk Rep Altman's reiststance up to an issue with the bill itself - what kind of a person wants to make themselves look that silly? Well, I guess he does. When Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D- 66-Orangeburg) says this:

"What we have said by the actions of the Judiciary Committee is we aren't going to create a felony if you beat your wife, partner. But now, if you've got some cockfighting going on, whoa! Wait a minute."
Altman responds like so:
"People who compare the two are not very smart and if you don't understand the difference, Ms. Gormley, between trying to ban the savage practice of watching chickens trying to kill each other and protecting people rights in CDV statutes, I'll never be able to explain it to you in a 100 years ma'am."
When questioned on his stance by Ms. Gormley, he turns on her too:
"You're really not very bright and I realize you are not accustomed to this, but I'm accustomed to reporters having a better sense of depth of things and you're asking this question to me would indicate you can't understand the answer. To ask the question is to demonstrate an enormous amount of ignorance. I'm not trying to be rude or hostile, I'm telling you."
I guess he realized that belligerence and being obtuse with the reporter were probably not the best ways to get his point across, so he does some quick backpedaling here:
"The reality is the law says domestic violence regardless, first, second or third offense is a misdemeanor, and what they passed yesterday says cockfighting is a felony."
Actually, Rep. Altman, THEY includes YOU, as YOU were part of the committee that reviewed these proposals.

He decides then to regale us with some of his insight concerning domestic abuse:

"There ought not to be a second offense. The woman ought to not be around the man. I mean you women want it one way and not another. Women want to punish the men, and I do not understand why women continue to go back around men who abuse them. And I've asked women that and they all tell me the same answer, John Graham you don't understand. And I say you're right, I don't understand."
Oh yes, there should not be a second offense. There should not be a first offense. There should not be cockfighting. This morning I opened up my inbox to a load of spam. I'd like for that to be outlawed please, or maybe just have Rep. Altman send me happy thoughts or whatever he plans to do to combat domestic violence.

The point, and I hope someone helps Rep. Altman understand this, is that regardless of whether or not there is a second, third, or fourth time, it is up to domestic abuse laws like the one he shot down to protect the victims of this crime, and considering a few cockfights to be a more crucial matter than domestic abuse is more than a little insulting to many people who have suffered through this.

For the bandwidth-capable, you can check out the interview and a followup here, in the left-hand boxes, or if you like you can check out the feedback that some WISTV viewers have offered on this subject.