Eclipse of the Facts

Today, November 30th, 2011, you can go to any major magazine, media or newspaper source, and read that Obama has re-instated horse slaughter in the US.  It’s true that on November 17th, a government committee voted three-to-one to restore funding for the inspection of horse abattoirs by the USDA should horse slaughter ever become legal again in the United States–and they did this by default.  As I understand it, the “de-funding” language was always included up to now.  So the door we thought made of adamantium has opened onto a can of worms, and an old can at that.

It’s quite possible that one of the arguments used to persuade Obama to renege on his campaign and incumbency promises to keep the slaughter ban on the books were whispers that Canada was on the verge of banning it, and then US slaughter-bound horses would all go to Mexico…so perhaps best to prepare the legal ground to re-patriate the horrid industry? The, um, boisterous ejaculations of the American pro-slaughter industry, seem premature to me, however, since even with the permission re-instated, the USDA would still need inspectors for the horsemeat itself.  And then there would be environmental concerns upfront since horse blood cannot be composted or recycled like cow blood and is a contaminant (horses also have more blood by volume than cows as well).  Would there be more funding for environmental specialists to oversee the disposal of horse blood?  NIMBY (Not in my backyard) could well curdle the slaughter industry’s efforts, as well as the funding monies required for monitoring at a time when the US economy is in a recession. 

Moreover, of the 9 million live horses reported as residing in the US, 138,000 were sent to foreign slaughter in 2010, while prior to its banning in the US, 103,000 or so were slaughtered domestically.  These figures are questionable at best since accuracy is not a mainstay of low-level trade of this kind–but they are official.  As mentioned in another post, killbuyers may or may not identify a horse as going directly to slaughter (but rather to feedlots or interim holding lots); in fact, this is one of the ways the killbuyer can sidestep the recent (October 2011) US legislation banning the use of double-decker trailers for horses headed (directly) to slaughterhouses.

But what I found interesting about the ever-so-slight difference in these figures is that it contradicts the pro-slaughter industry’s claim that “hundreds of thousands of horses have been abandoned” because of, and since, the US ban on horse slaughter.  Well how can that be, if even when the US slaughter plants were operating, they only took in a little over 100,000?  That must mean that even when the US plants were open, the demographic of abandoners never, even then, considered slaughter as an option.

I know I’m repeating myself but, as I learn more figures and facts, I can elaborate a little more.  And, really, it’s the facts that count.  Apparently not for PETA* and the Christian Science Monitor however.  I’d link to that egregious, inaccurate, and wholly simple-minded article for you, but I’d be afraid that some of you who tend to scan rather than read might think its information and figures are accurate.  I’m sometimes guilty of scanning rather than reading, but not very often. * I stand corrected. PETA has recently confirmed that it is against horse slaughter, so that article mis-represented their views (March 2012 clarification by PETA). 

Certainly when I read the term “humane slaughter” my blood turns cold, but I read something in that Monitor article which quoted someone calling horse slaughter in US abattoirs a form of (get this):  “humane euthanasia.”  Yes, you read right.  That’s beyond an oxymoron like “jumbo shrimp”; I’m sure there’s a fancy word for it because it exceeds standard ignorance by leaps and bounds (even ‘malapropism’ doesn’t quite do it).  But I digress…

I titled this post “Eclipse of the Facts” because I think the media is jumping the gun, and presenting so many fragments of facts as to be textually butchering the realities of horse slaughter.  This constitutes a total eclipse of the facts.  The worm may have turned…but it’s a creature with no spine.  Also, we had a solar eclipse late last week; and finally, Eclipse was the father of all thoroughbreds, I’ve heard.  Born on the day of an eclipse (whence his name), Eclipse’s owner, the Duke of Cumberland, was known as “The Butcher of Culloden”… an ill omen for all the Thoroughbreds who came after, as well as all the breeds we slaughter.


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