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Horse Trafficking Bill Sidelined but Reveals Congressional Climate PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Friday, 17 October 2008
AFF Sentinel Vol.5#41

Glimpse Into the Future

H.R. 6598, the bill that could turn ranchers, farmers and horse owners into felons for selling their horses to the wrong person, has been sidelined for now by a parliamentary maneuver.

But a careful study of the comments from members during the Judiciary Committee session that approved the bill and sent it to the House floor is revealing and disturbing.

The favorable vote split along party lines. With encouragement from apparently only one livestock group - NCBA -- House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and Ranking Minority member Rep. Goodlatte and their staffs managed "sequential referral" of the bill to the House Agriculture Committee before going to the floor. That effectively puts the bill in limbo for now, since the Agriculture Committee has little interest in strenuously looking for ways to turn ranchers and horse owners into felons. But the bill is likely to reappear next year.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) gave an impassioned plea for the bill to open the hearing. Other members stressed their repugnance regarding horse slaughter, totally oblivious to the fact they were trying to affect business in someone else's country.

The most disturbing realization in observing the behavior of the bill's committee proponents was that no reasonable, common sense argument fazed them. Even noting that the bill would force very inhumane conditions on thousands of horses that would be added to those already being abandoned fell on deaf ears. It was as if certain members had had circuitry burned into their brain that consisted of pictures and descriptions the Humane Society of the U.S. and others had lasered there - the worst examples of horse slaughter incidents from foreign slaughter plants. Anything else bounced off those members like tennis balls off a tank. This is disturbing evidence of the power of a few terrible exceptions to set people's minds in a certain direction. It vividly illustrates the battles animal agriculture faces to retain reasonable ways of doing business.

What is going on here?

Animal welfare groups are harnessing most people's natural repugnance to death and destruction and ruthlessly exploiting that natural reaction to their own ends. Some people faint at the sight of blood. Others wouldn't dream of attending an autopsy or observing hospital surgery. Most folks don't want to watch the work in a mortuary's back room. The average citizen wouldn't care to visit the stunning chute at any packing plant.

The activists, however, have no compunctions about using shock methodology. Remember the left's mantra - "... the end justifies the means." Tactics to neutralize such measures are challenging. People's perspectives are tilted. Those susceptible to such tactics are not easily persuaded by arguments that life and death are a normal part of animal existence.

Neither are they as capable of seeing the difference between animal life and human life as previous generations. In a society where so many people have not harvested their meat for dinner or seen it done, any of the necessary preparation for providing raw meat for dinner carries shock value it once didn't. Bloody juices in the bottom of the meat tray is as close as most people get. Mom or Grandma going out into the barnyard to snare the oldest hen and cut its head off for Sunday dinner would probably leave permanent psychological scars on kids today.

The Judiciary Committee was considering this bill in the first place because Wayne Pacelle's reception at Ag Committee hearings had convinced him he had to go around them. The irony of making criminals out of animal owners, while bestowing new "protections" for animals through the route of the Judiciary Committee, would appeal to activists like Pacelle. After all, their ultimate goal is to make animal agriculture illegal, since the activists have made only minor headway into persuading the country to vegetarianism. The left's approach is always, "If you can't persuade people, pass a law and force them to do what we know they should do."

Those in animal agriculture must recognize the challenge and support the organizations doing battle with the animal welfare activists. In recent days, the queen of daytime emotional television did a show on California's Proposition 2, HSUS's standard legislation outlawing gestation crates, veal crates and hen cages. We haven't dug into the show's details, but the fact that Oprah did the show and gave Wayne Pacelle the air time to respond to each animal industry spokesman in turn speaks volumes for our challenge.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 06 March 2009 )
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