Roy Exum: Vote Down The AgGag Bill

Monday, April 8, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

When Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill last year that would make soring a Tennessee Walking Horse a Class E felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, it seemed like Tennessee was finally trying to do something about being the only tribe of people in the world who intentionally harm their native animals in order to collect a blue ribbon.

Because there is a huge loophole – anyone who is trying to “train” a horse is exempted – the slimy Big Lick crowd of the walking horse industry can and will do as they have done for the last fifty years. Tomorrow the “Big Lick”  will try to add insult to injury, if you will pardon the pun, when the state legislature is expected to pass an atrocious bill that – get this – would make the those who take covert pictures and videos of animals being abused the criminals instead of the heroes.

Andy Holt, a farmer from Dresden, Tenn., calls people like those who took the world-famous video of trainer Jackie McConnell savagely beating and torturing horses last year as “vigilantes.” The bill he has pushed through the Agriculture Committee demanded at anyone who takes pictures and/or videos must surrender them to authorities within 24 hours or be charged with a misdemeanor.

Anybody who has ever watched CSI or any crime TV knows full and well such a bill is Godsend to a thug. In this day of criminal investigation, the bill is clearly and cleverly designed to protect a villain who drives a nail in a horse’s pastern so the animal will pick its hooves up higher. While it is no secret Holt is in bed with the “Big Lick” crowd, what is puzzling is that fellow committee member Richard Floyd (R-Chattanooga) forwarded the bill, as did Chattanooga’s Todd Gardenhire, now in the state Senate.

Newspapers and news announcers across the state have demonized the senseless bill. “It’s a very bad bill,” said Frank Gibson, the public policy director of the Tenn. Press Association. “It in effect will repeal a section of the Tennessee Reporter’s Shield Law that has been on the books since 1973. Under this law a reporter working on a story that takes longer than a day, as most stories do, would be guilty of a crime.”

When the famed video of the sadistic McConnell was made in 2011, officials of the Humane Society of the United States turned it over authorities long before it riveted the nation’s attention to the rampant abuse spawned by a perverse crowd in Shelbyville, Tenn. Federal prosecutors in Chattanooga soon became the first to successfully prosecute the men who have violated the federal Horse Protection Act in a wanton manner despite the fact the law has been in effect since 1970. (McConnell was fined $75,000 and placed on three years of probation.)

Worse, there are still no federal laws against horse abuse with teeth; a Federal judge was able to label McConnell a felon but he has yet to spend one night in jail. McConnell has an extensive record of horse soring and abuse, dating back some 30 years but will not go to trial for his 2011 video antics until July on this year. No wonder Rep. Andy Holt – and horse sadists – want a 24-hour window with their AgGag bill.

McConnell pleaded not guilty at his arraignment last month on state charges that were filed as the result of the tape but legal sources say that is just a ploy. “He can cop a plea during bargaining with the defense and walk with one misdemeanor. What’s that to Jackie … maybe a $100 fine.”

In Saturday’s editions of the New York Times, a scathing story revealed a group called The American Legislative Exchange Council is behind AgGag bills in a growing number of states to protect the food industry. In Iowa a covert tape showed chickens laying eggs right next to rotting dead birds, workers snapping off the beaks of young chicks and burning up live birds. The tape caused fast-food giant McDonald’s to quit buying eggs from the rogue company.

Further, the ALEC has a proto-type bill they call “The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act” which sounds nice but all it really does is keep the vigilantes from, as it puts it, “defaming the facility or its owner.” Anybody who jabs a screwdriver into the eye of a pig ought to be “defamed.” The same holds true for anyone who would rub caustic acids and pastes on a horse’s forelegs, even if scurrilous trainers is trying to “instruct” the animal and can skirt the present-day Tennessee law.

If, indeed, HB1191 comes before a vote by the legislature tomorrow, it should be known pretty quickly how each of our representatives across the state that leads the world in horse abuse voted on such a stinkin’ bill. Then the public can deal with those who side with the likes of a felon named Jackie McConnell.

royexum@aol.com


How Valuable Is A Child's Life?

Blocking A Road Does Frighten People

Elect Tom Decosimo


If you support Trump after learning he will withhold funds from public schools unless the schools reopen on time then there is nothing anyone can say to help you realize the true nature of Donald ... (click for more)

Marie Mott is quoted as asking, “So you’re telling me blocking a road instills fear in the community?” Apparently she was seeking the approval of her peers; for a more objective answer, she should've ... (click for more)

As early voting in Hamilton County is about to begin, we should take careful note of the positions held by all those running for school board, regardless of district. Views held by those elected ... (click for more)



Opinion

How Valuable Is A Child's Life?

If you support Trump after learning he will withhold funds from public schools unless the schools reopen on time then there is nothing anyone can say to help you realize the true nature of Donald Trump. But if you care, research just a few of his past statements. “Like a miracle, the virus will disappear in the summer.” “The outbreak will be temporary.” “Coronavirus numbers ... (click for more)

Blocking A Road Does Frighten People

Marie Mott is quoted as asking, “So you’re telling me blocking a road instills fear in the community?” Apparently she was seeking the approval of her peers; for a more objective answer, she should've asked 'the community' instead. You know, the community -- those working, taxpaying folks who actually pay for and build the roads, public buildings, private homes, etc. The basic ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Protest Leaders Mott, Williams Face 2 Sets Of Charges On Sunday, Including Stealing Flag And Burning It

The two leaders of the ongoing nightly protests in Chattanooga were arrested on two different sets of charges on Sunday. Marie Mott and Cameron Williams were charged by Chattanooga Police with obstructing an intersection and blocking an emergency vehicle. Later in the day, they were charged by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office in connection with taking the Sheriff's ... (click for more)

Hammond Says Several Suspects Under Investigation In Incident In Which Flag At Jail Was Taken, Burned

Sheriff Jim Hammond said "several suspects" are under investigation in an incident in which a Sheriff's flag was taken down at the County Jail on Walnut Street and later burned at Miller Park. He said, "The incident started at the jail and continued on to Miller Park. Rather than involve two agencies, the Sheriff's Office will take the lead on it." The sheriff said city police ... (click for more)

Sports

Sports Are Back: CFC Wins First Professional Sporting Event In Tennessee Since March

As the tallest player on the pitch, the Chattanooga Football Club’s towering and burly Ian McGrath rumbled down the pitch with aplomb, an inviting target for a pass five minutes into CFC’s 3-1 win over the Georgia Revolution. He graciously welcomed a sterling diagonal pass from fullback Richard Dixon, who was a good 20 to 30 yards away from McGrath when he let the pass go. ... (click for more)

Tee Times Announced For 2020 CWGA City Women's Amateur Golf Championship

The 2020 City Women's Amateur Golf Championship will be held on Tuesday at Black Creek Country Club. Listed below are the first round tee times. Hole 1 Name H.I. C.H. TEE 8:00 AM Ryon, Carlene 7.4 6 White-CWGA ... (click for more)