SEATTLE – Amazon.com (AMZN) says it will keep selling two magazines about cockfighting, despite plans by the Humane Society of the United States to file a lawsuit Thursday accusing the company of operating an illegal "animal-fighting paraphernalia sale and distribution scheme."
The online retailer said, however, that it would again remove videos that depict dogfights, months after the issue was originally raised by Humane Society officials.
The Humane Society said it would file the lawsuit Thursday morning in District of Columbia Superior Court. The organization originally threatened to sue Amazon.com Inc. last July, saying the company was violating the federal Animal Welfare Act by offering The Feathered Warrior and The Gamecock, two cockfighting magazines.
Seattle-based Amazon.com said the magazines are legal and would continue to be sold on its Web site. Refusing to sell books or magazines simply because their messages may offend is censorship, spokeswoman Patty Smith said.
"The customer is the best judge of what is and isn't appropriate for their reading habits," she said.
The Washington, D.C.-based Humane Society maintained the cockfighting magazines and the dogfighting videos violate federal animal cruelty laws and said it would go ahead with its lawsuit. Cockfighting is legal only in Louisiana and New Mexico.
"The company has not been willing to give up the blood money from dogfighting and cockfighting," said Michael Markarian, a Humane Society vice president.
Last June, Amazon.com was among the companies that pledged to remove a DVD — "Hood Fights 2" — from its Web site after complaints that the video showed scenes of dogs fighting, along with street fights between people.
That case was different than the cockfighting magazines, Smith said, because the video depicted actual violence.
A check of Amazon.com by The Associated Press on Wednesday found that "Hood Fights 2" and similar videos were back on the site. Smith said the videos in question would be removed.
Such items can be offered for sale over Amazon.com by third-party suppliers, and the company can't block certain titles from hitting the site, she said.
In De Queen, Ark., Feathered Warrior owner-editor Verna Dowd, 77, said the Humane Society's legal threats are too heavy-handed.
"The Humane Society are crazy people," Dowd said. "They want total control, evidently, over everything people do or think or says, or anything. I don't know what's wrong them."