On the surface it appears that House Bill 1191 heading for a vote in the Tennessee Legislature next week appears pretty stupid. It requires anyone gathering evidence of animal abuse to call the authorities within 24 to 48 hours and turn over any video or pictures within such a time frame. Nothing wrong with that – seems to be common sense and it seems frivolous to even have such a law on the books to demand that of the state’s citizenry.
But, no, that’s not what the bill is about. It is a thinly-veiled effort by evil people who would hurt animals for cheap blue ribbons and who don’t want to get caught. The state’s leading newspaper, The Nashville Tennessean, calls the bill “a subterfuge.” And while other critics can’t believe the state’s Agriculture Committee even dared send it to the full House, the great majority of honest horsemen and horsewomen across our state now have a far cruder term for the pending legislation.
Let’s face it -- the state of Tennessee leads the nation in horse abuse. It can also be said it leads the world – no other nation purposely hobbles horses for an unnatural gait. But with the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration now nationally-recognized as the cradle of an industry that awards the sadistic torture and soring of magnificent animals, there is now a scathing bill before our nation’s Congress that could rein in over 40 years of wanton – and flagrant – abuse of the federal Horse Protection Act.
The Congressional bill is because of festering evil still rooted in the town of Shelbyville (Pop. 2,536) but as we wait to see what a dysfunctional Congress will do, the Shelbyville hierarchy has sprung a new little trick. It reflects exactly the type of people who today control a beautiful pastime and a magnificent breed that has become infested with cheating owners, trainers who are now felons, and more animals dying early of “colic” than you can believe.
This coming week we will learn if the legislature can be tricked by deception. The “magicians” are two darlings well known to animal rights advocates for the wrong reasons. The clever ploy that Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) and Senator Delores Gresham (R-Somerville) want you to fall for is that it would require urgency. What these two want you to see is the urgency up front – not the backside where after 48 hours the undercover evidence could not be used, according to the proposed state law.
Obviously the nauseating ABC News tape of the sadistic horse trainer Jackie McConnell did irrefutable damage to those who relish “The Big Lick” when it was shown to the public last spring. The tape itself, made by an undercover officer of the Humane Society of the United States, was actually taken some months before in order to build a case. As any fool knows, it often takes longer than 24 to 48 hours to stop evil.
And you know what the wretches behind the scenes call those who bravely catch louts like Jackie McConnell and his ilk? “Video terrorists.” Don’t you love that?
The disgusting “Big Lick” crowd, ready to “re-brand” themselves this spring as the Performance Show Horse Association (I am not making this up … laugh all you want but it’s true!) has fought and defied the U.S. Department of Agriculture, every animal rights organization in the country and the leading equine veterinary groups in every way imaginable to keep their most unsavory money machine alive. Desperate people will do anything.
So now they get their “aces” in the legislature (Holt and Gresham) to create an urgency – that’s the kicker -- if any tape or photos are over 48 hours old they’re illegal! Name a thug that wouldn’t like a deal where evidence obtained undercover is tossed out because of a new state law! It is totally disgusting but Rep. Holt, you’ll recall, is the guy who wants slaughter houses for horses in Tennessee, claiming we can make money sending horse meat to Europe and other savage lands.
Last year the Legislature made horse abuse a felony, punishable with up to five years in prison, effective July 1. While there were numerous violations of the federal Horse Protection Act found in August at the National Walking Horse Celebration, no one arrest was made by the Shelbyville police or the Bedford County sheriff’s office, which mystified horse advocates across the country but suited the Big Lickers just fine.
Now the “Big Lick” boys are winking at the legislature. Don’t pay attention to crafty little crummy people. They are the real terrorists.