Support Property Rights, Eat a Puppy

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For those who have yet to take sides in the dirty horse-eating foreigner vs. Patriotic American debate, pro-horse activist Andrew Cohen has some thoughts in the Washington Post:

This do-nothing Congress this week can finally do something about the shameful business of horse slaughter in this country. It can tell the foreign-owned corporations that kill our horses to grace the tables of the French and the Japanese—and pay little federal tax for the privilege of doing so—that we no longer will tolerate or permit the indecent destruction of the living symbol of American heritage.

It's unclear what's most unsettling here: (a) foreigners who own things, (b) the idea of Parisians eating rather than smoking, or (c) low federal tax rates. Then things get really scary:

Opponents of the measure also make an "owners' right" argument. They say that preventing the slaughter of horses deprives owners of a right to dispose of property the way they see fit. But Congress does that all the time… Can you imagine any right-minded person making an argument that a dog owner has a right to sell his animal for food and that the government cannot have say in stopping him from doing so?

If only the bounds of the human imagination could stretch so far! The weirdest thing about this debate is the focus on slaughter specifically for consumption. If the way horses are killed is as brutal as it sounds, shouldn't the practice itself be targeted? The way the bill is written, it seems like Barbaro Kabobs are off limits, but slaughter for pure enjoyment is A-OK.

Tim Cavanaugh identifies the seminal pro-horse meat text here.

NEXT: Still Waiting for the Epidemic

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  1. Eventually, killing any animal for consumption will be looked upon the same way we look now upon human slavery. It may take a while, but it’s going to happen. We’re already seeing the roots of it.

  2. I haven’t been following the horsemeat debate too closely, so I may have missed it if someone has disclosed, but has anyone around here tried horsemeat? Is it tasty?
    It is irrelevant to the argument, but I need to know if I am missing out on a treat.

  3. I’m quite sure in the Navy they served us meat from every known species, cleverly disguised in globs of goopy sauces.

  4. we no longer will tolerate or permit the indecent destruction of the living symbol of American heritage.

    If the horse is the living symbol of American heritage, then eating one would be akin to flag burning, and thus protected by the 1st ammendment, right?

    And of course the irony of this is that banning horse slaughter for food here in the States will just result in the job being outsourced. “Them furriners ur takin all ur good horsekillin’ jobs!”

  5. I’d love to try horse meat. I wonder if there are recipes from the Galloping Gourmet?

  6. highnumber,

    Never tried horsemeat, but had some donkey in Beijing once. Tasted pretty much like beef, perhaps a bit tougher but it’s difficult to remember the details. Substitute donkey into a big plate of pepper steak and I’d bet most wouldn’t know the difference.

    But asses don’t have the sterling reputation of the noble stallion, so it’s ok to eat them.

  7. highnumber,

    Never tried horsemeat, but had some donkey in Beijing once. Tasted pretty much like beef, perhaps a bit tougher but it’s difficult to remember the details. Substitute donkey into a big plate of pepper steak and I’d bet most wouldn’t know the difference.

    But asses don’t have the sterling reputation of the noble stallion, so it’s ok to eat them.

  8. highnumber,

    Never tried horsemeat, but had some donkey in Beijing once. Tasted pretty much like beef, perhaps a bit tougher but it’s difficult to remember the details. Substitute donkey into a big plate of pepper steak and I’d bet most wouldn’t know the difference.

    But asses don’t have the sterling reputation of the noble stallion, so it’s ok to eat them.

  9. highnumber,

    Never tried horsemeat, but had some donkey in Beijing once. Tasted pretty much like beef, perhaps a bit tougher but it’s difficult to remember the details. Substitute donkey into a big plate of pepper steak and I’d bet most wouldn’t know the difference.

    But asses don’t have the sterling reputation of the noble stallion, so it’s ok to eat them.

  10. Isn’t the bald eagle “the living symbol of American heritage”? Horsies aren’t native to America. Damn
    immigrants!!!

  11. highnumber,

    Never tried horsemeat, but…

  12. I haven’t been following the horsemeat debate too closely, so I may have missed it if someone has disclosed, but has anyone around here tried horsemeat? Is it tasty?

    My dad says he has seen horsemeat and is pretty sure that when he was a kid (1930s) the local butcher sold his family horsemeat in the guise of beef. Apparently it is similar to beef, but remains redder in color after you cook it. So he says.

    Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horsemeat — says the taste is slightly sweet. There is also a photo.

    Pope Gregory inveyed against the eating of horsemeat by Christian Europeans in 732, caling it an abominable pagan practice. I have read (in The Sovereign Individual) that part of his motivation was to keep people from eating up the supply of horses needed for knights.

    The Wiki article says Parisians gained a taste for horseflesh during the Siege of Paris, when other sourcs of food ran low (and horses were eating up the grain).

  13. Wow, a four-fer. That takes an incredible amount of impatience, huh?

    Sorry…

  14. “Is Conrad Burns a Fan of Welfare? Only if You’re Rich or Speak French.”

    That is the boldface, all caps banner at the top of a full page ad in last Sunday’s Billings Gazette, proudly paid for by “the National Horse Protection Coalition.”

    Unfortunately, I am insufficiently motivated- err, technosavvy- to provide a link to the ad in its entirety- it’s worth a look (perhaps someone on the Reason staff, hmmm?).

    The point, such as it is, seems to be that our government spends five million bucks a year on inspectors to keep tabs on “…a business run by foreigners, for foreigners, which benefits only foreign butchers and restaurants…. It amounts to corporate welfare.” Blah, blah, blah… If you’re looking for an egregious example of corporate welfare, I’m not sure the horse meat biz is the best thing you could come up with. If you’re looking for camoflage for your equiphilic [I made that up- couldja tell?] xenophobia and protectionist impulses, then perhaps.

    If you drive around any town in Montana for five minutes, you will likely see a yard sign which says, “Burns delivers” and they are not referring to the mail. Somehow I don’t see Burns retreating in terror from a “corporate welfare” rap like Margaret Hamilton from the old oaken bucket.

    ps- I don’t know about horses, but llamas are quite delectable.

  15. So, help me out here:
    Should I eat that filly, or ride her?

  16. “If the way horses are killed is as brutal as it sounds, shouldn’t the practice itself be targeted? The way the bill is written, it seems like Barbaro Kabobs are off limits, but slaughter for pure enjoyment is A-OK.”

    Good point.

  17. I’m feeling hungry, can’t see the reason,
    Just ate a horsemeat pie.

  18. Eventually, killing any animal for consumption will be looked upon the same way we look now upon human slavery. It may take a while, but it’s going to happen. We’re already seeing the roots of it.

    No… eventually animal consumption WILL stop, but it will be because of market forces. As soon as the technology exists to grow meat in a vat cheaper than feeding and raising an animal from birth, we will switch over.

    As a vegetarian, who became a vegetarian in part over concerns about animal welfare… I can say without any sort of agenda that the whole eating-animals/human-slavery thing is just stupid! Human beings are sentient creatures, and animals are pretty dumb. Comparing human slavery (which only existed in certain human societies), to the consumption of animal flesh (which is seen everywhere in nature), is just dumb. Not that I wouldn’t mind seeing people voluntarily stop eating meat… but please, there is no moral equivalence between harming animals and harming sentient humans.

  19. Andrew Cohen has written the best bit of satire I think I’ve read all month.

  20. If wishes were horses we’d all be eating steak.

  21. so this is a tangent:
    When i heard that song by America,
    “I went through the desert on a horse with no name”

    I asked my dad why it had no name and he told me: “Son, you don’t name something you might have to eat.”

    I never named a pet again…

  22. An “eating horses” topic is boring for a libertarian website, because about 98% of us agree that it should be legal. Make it the tougher “having sex with horses” topic and only 96% of us will agree.

  23. Is there a veal-analog for horses?

    I assume this is illegal in Chicago.

  24. Well, I have to go to Canada if I want to go to Cuba, so I guess I’ll have to go somewhere to have some puppy chow, lower case of course.

  25. Can you imagine any right-minded person making an argument that a dog owner has a right to sell his animal for food and that the government cannot have say in stopping him from doing so?

    I’m guessing that Cohen hasn’t spent a lot of time at H&R.

  26. I ate raw horse meat once when I lived in Japan. It is similar to raw beef, but a little more gamey – something like venison. I have never eaten venison raw, though, so it is hard to compare.

    Ahhh, the wonders of living in Japan.

    …Aaaa, Chaddo-san. Try local specialty! Very oishii

    I got burned (and pleasantly surprised) by that line a number of times.

  27. Darn html. Here’s the link about a woman using a dead puppy as a weapon:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-na-puppy7sep07,1,5046666.story

  28. Is there a veal-analog for horses?

    Yes: “Foal de grass.”

  29. Okay, Weird Synchronicity Dept.: Right after posting the above, I went to the in-box of my personal e-mail and saw a note from Viking Moose. (He’s helping a friend of mine with some networking info.) At least an hour ago, he tried to post the same thing that I just did, only the server squirrels weren’t working then.

    So, credit for thinking of “foal gras” first goes to Viking Moose.

  30. So, Chaddo-san, you would recommend, yes?

    That settles it. Now, I’m rankled. This aggression will not stand. I must have my horsemeat!

    It looks like the FDA allows importation of horse meat for human consumption, although, who can f***ing tell from reading around their website, so what the heck – we can eat them, we just can’t kill them?
    Everyone reading this should go out this weekend and kill a horse – for freedom!

  31. Seriously, where can I eat dog?

  32. Wait, who said you can’t sell your dog for food?

  33. It can tell the foreign-owned corporations that kill our horses to grace the tables of the French and the Japanese…

    “Our horses”?? Andrew Cohen reveals his knee-jerk collectivist mind set.

    … and pay little federal tax …

    Yeah, harming prosperity and liberty by extracting more taxes oughta help a guy like this mollify his ethical concerns.

    …for the privilege of doing so.

    “Privilege”?? And just who grants this privilege in Cohen’s little authoritarian world?

  34. An “eating horses” topic is boring for a libertarian website, because about 98% of us agree that it should be legal. Make it the tougher “having sex with horses” topic and only 96% of us will agree.

    So what would the approval rate be as to whether it should be legal to have sex with an animal and then eat it?

  35. No… eventually animal consumption WILL stop, but it will be because of market forces. As soon as the technology exists to grow meat in a vat cheaper than feeding and raising an animal from birth, we will switch over.

    I’d argue that most of the moralizing about slavery came around in places where it had become less profitable. If market forces make fake meat better and cheaper then all of a sudden everyone will pretend we’ve always been worried about the plight of animals and those who don’t get on the boat are vicious monsters, etc.

    Anyway, can you still not imagine a right-minded person arguing that dogs ought to be legally sold for food? Well here it is:

    Dogs ought to be legally sold for food. You see, some people want to eat dog, and some people want to sell (and maybe butcher) their dogs. They can both benefit if they trade with each other. The disutility to the dog is no different from the disutility to a cow when I buy a hamburger. The negative externality (that is, the disutility people like Cohen get from being disgusted by our transaction) is no different from the negative externality of an ugly shirt. My freedom is more important. It’s either all animals or none.

    (If anyone has questions about my right-mindedness and subsequent eligibility for Cohen’s thought experiment, I will gladly take your money in exchange for a psychological test. Utility!)

  36. I have eaten horse *and* dog, as well as many other weird-ass types of meat, and I can honestly say that it all starts to taste pretty similar after a while. If you get the chance, certainly try horse, but don’t worry if you don’t; you’re really not missing anything.

  37. “…the negative externality of an ugly shirt.”

    I like that.

  38. Yeah.

    “The Negative Externality of an Ugly Shirt” is too long and complicated to be a good name for a band, but it might be a good name for their first album.

  39. Seriously, where can I eat dog?

    Start about three inches (as the flea crawls) east-northeast or west-northwest of the butthole. It’s like cow-turkey.

  40. “The Wiki article says Parisians gained a taste for horseflesh during the Siege of Paris, when other sourcs of food ran low (and horses were eating up the grain).”

    Parisians then ate rat, cat, dog, horse, and whoever could afford it bought meat coming from the exotic animals of the local zoo.

    Do definitely try horse meat, it’s one of my favorite along with ostrich meat (they taste similar, it’s a salty and slightly sweet juicy red meat, but ostrich’s is tender while horse’s has strong fibers that make it hard to cut). Best served with pepper sauce and fries.

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