Roy Exum: A Wolf Wearing Sheep’s Clothing

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

 I personally believe a man best known by the name of Andy Holt was the greatest educator of any type who has ever lived in the state of Tennessee. I feel I must quickly add Vanderbilt’s Rob Roy Purdy in the same paragraph and quickly acknowledge I never met General Robert Neyland or many other legendary types from across the state.

But I mention the well-known and much-beloved Dr. Holt in an effort to emphasize how crucial and extremely important it is that each one of us who will soon vote must carefully and dutifully study the candidates who are now seeking local, state and national office and whose names will appear on our individual and very personal ballots. Early voting actually begins this week.

I use Andy Holt as my example because there is actually another guy named Andy Holt, a Republican from Dresden, Tn., who is seeking to be re-elected for a second term to represent District 76 in the state’s House of Representatives.

Since nobody from Chattanooga can vote for the guy, he’s a classic case why people have to be so very careful. Andy Holt of Dresden would doubtlessly be the best neighbor you ever had but, in my opinion, this rascal shouldn’t get a single vote, not even for dog catcher.

From what I can learn, Rep. Holt from Dresden is a very hard-working farmer whose family sells pumpkins every autumn, whose barn has a Nativity scene in December, and who makes a living raising mostly pigs and cattle. Even better, he earned a master’s degree from UT-Martin, is in the Rotary Club, and is a Baptist deacon. He and his wife Ellie have two of the cutest kids you ever saw.

Perfect, right? This guy comes off like a dream but – if you didn’t know it – it would be hard to imagine the same Andy Holt is tirelessly gearing up to sponsor legislation that would allow horses to be butchered and slaughtered in Tennessee. He believes that’s the way we ought to go, grinding ‘em up into sausage and sending them to backwards countries where they have no problem eating their pets. It’s disgusting and revolting. What’s next, dogs and cats?

Actually, it is far, far worse than that. I’m afraid that while Andy Holt possesses some fine qualities, I suspect he’s also got a streak of what I see as sure-enough evil in him. I’m going to tell you why Andy Holt is – in the opinion of some --“a wolf wearing sheep’s clothing.” It’s called House Bill 3620 and Andy Holt wants to make it a law.

On April 12 of this year, Rep. Holt stealthily introduced HB-3620 that “As introduced, creates a new misdemeanor offense for a person who applies for employment with the intent to cause economic damage to the employer by recording on the premises of the employer and releasing such recordings to a third party. - Amends TCA Title 39; Title 40 and Title 50.”

Very curiously, it was also being whispered by early April that the Humane Society of the United States had sent an undercover agent into the midst of sadistic criminal’s barn in Collierville, Tn., in 2011 and had obtaining paralyzing footage of then-Hall of Fame trainer Jackie McConnell horribly abusing animals, beating one defenseless Tennessee Walking Horse with an electric cattle prod and showing horrendous footage of another prized horse crying like a human baby because it was hurt so badly.

Are you following me here? When the ABC new show “Nightline” aired the nauseating tape within weeks of Rep. Holt’s HB-3620, it proved to literally millions of people around the world the Tennessee Walking Horse industry is badly tainted. Since then, there has been more solid evidence brought forth to prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, an unsettling group headquartered in Shelbyville isn’t eager to change anything about the soring and abuse of a well-recorded half a century.

Further, the “Shelbyville Slime,” as we might aptly call this small but powerful group who dictate “what is best” for the 500,000 owners of the Tennessee Walking Horses, at first pretended horror at the McConnell tape. Remember, ringleader David Howard was quoted at the courthouse saying he was “shocked.” Please sit down, brother! At what, getting caught?

No, I’ll tell you what is truly shocking. Within six weeks of the million-seller tape, SHOW had sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture, lambasted the Humane Society, been vilified by three prominent veterinarian groups, nearly destroyed the image of a magnificent breed of horse and insulted the integrity of the very employers of the USDA – we, the people of the United States of America.

Had Rep. Holt’s HB-3620 been enacted, the undercover agent who bravely brought light on Jackie McConnell and four others (all who have pleaded guilty) would – in fact – be guilty of a crime in Tennessee. My goodness gracious! The most astounding thing about HB-3620 is that it is fact!

Did any other legislators step in the same slime? Well, we know one. Rep. Holt’s House bill was also sponsored in the Senate (SB-3460) by a woman named Dolores Grisham (R-Somerville) and what will really make you weep is that she is a retired Lt. Colonel from the Marine Corps. Don’t you see? This is almost worse than bacteria-eating cancer.

As the summer has unfolded, there are many longtime observers of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry – not associated with the “Shelbyville Slime – who claim they smell a rat. The Shelbyville villains, dating back to 1998 when then-Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) was the first to sign a scathing letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are very eager to use elected officials as dimwitted pawns. The letter Frist signed clearly threatened to withdraw funding if investigations of (illegal) soring were not eased.

The historic letter, sent from Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), contained 13 signatures and is absolutely unbelievable when compared side-by-side to the federal Horse Protection Act, which was became law in 1970. But it is overwhelming evidence the Tennessee Walking Horse industry richly rewards its “friends” on the state and Federal levels.

Understand, I am not accusing State Rep. Andy Holt or State Sen. Dolores Grisham of being accepting a penny from the Tennessee Walking Horse industry but it is well known the Shelbyville Slime gave “generously” to Bill Frist’s campaign the last time he ran.

I find it downright intriguing that Rep. Holt, who wants to soon make horse sausage in the state of Tennessee, would introduce a puzzling bill that would shield the likes of Jackie McConnell just scant weeks before the nation was horrified by an undercover tape. Why would a man who makes a living raising pigs and cattle want to shield a sadistic trainer for a tainted crowd?

The SHOW organization (in Shelbyville) has just hired a questionable PR firm to lobby elected officials like State Rep. Andy Holt. I use “questionable” because it is a widespread belief that anyone who takes up with trash soon gets dirty hands. It the same reason, we have learned, a wolf will dress up like a sheep.

royexum@aol.com



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