To: New York State Assembly Members
Faith Leaders Against Cage Fighting in New York
Vote "NO" on legislation that would bring professional human cage fighting events to New York.
Why is this important?
In the wake of the tragic mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, it is unthinkable that lawmakers in any jurisdiction would risk exposing our children to an activity that involves extreme violence and brutality.
Cage fighting, also known as “ultimate fighting” and “mixed martial arts,” is sensationalized violence that has no place in civilized society. In these contests, fighters are allowed to knock each other unconscious through elbows, kicks and knees to the head; and to strangle each other to the point of passing out through choke holds. At least four cage fighters from the United States are reported to have died from injuries sustained during amateur or professional cage fights.
We are also deeply concerned that cage fighters have competed in public stadiums and on television bearing Neo-Nazi messages in tattoos and on clothing. The Southern Poverty Law Center wrote: “Not surprisingly, this rapidly rising blood sport is likewise wildly popular among racist skinheads and other young extremists with a thirst for violence.”
These public displays of violence and hate are all the more troubling in light of the fact that cage fighting is being actively marketed to children. Today, children as young as seven years old are participating in cage fighting tournaments. Videos of these contests show children punching and kicking each other from behind chain-link fences, while adult spectators clap and cheer.
Any entertainment spectacle that allows people to pummel each other in bloodstained cages has no place in a state that aspires to be a model for progressives, as well as a capital of art and culture.
As a society, we have an obligation to protect our children from extreme violence and hate speech, just as we have an obligation to protect our children from drugs, alcohol and pornography.
On behalf of our children, families, communities, and congregations, we strongly urge you to vote against any proposal that would bring cage fighting events to the State of New York.
Patrick J. Carolan, Executive Director of Franciscan Action Network, Washington, D.C.
Father John P. Duffell, Church of the Blessed Sacrament, New York
Rita Freedman, Acting Executive Director, Jewish Labor Committee, New York
Joseph J. Fahey, Ph.D. Chair, Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice, New York
Rabbi Michael E. Feinberg, Executive Director, Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition
Father Brian Jordan, O.F.M.. Saint Francis College, New York
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, New York
Marjorie Dove Kent, Executive Director, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, New York
Father J. Cletus Kiley, Director of Immigration Policy, UNITE HERE, Chicago
Sister Marie Lucy, O.S.F., Franciscan Action Network, Washington, D.C.
Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis, New York