These horse lovers are really getting annoying. I should clarify: not the horse lovers in France, Belgium, Germany, and Japan (among other places) who like a nice equine steak now and then—the horse lovers who are trying to stop them from enjoyi
ng this un-American delicacy. I should clarify that too: The meat is American, but the enjoyment of it is not. Hence the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which the House passed by a vote of 263 to 146 in September. Yesterday the National Horse Protection Coalition used a full-page ad in The New York Times to complain that the Senate, due to the machinations of the nefarious Farm Animal Welfare Coalition, has not taken up the measure yet.
It seems the latter coalition's pork, milk, and beef producers are worried about the precedent set by an utterly arbitrary national ban on the slaughter of a particular animal. Opponents of the ban are worried that "these crazy animal rights groups will come after their livestock next," according to a Washington Times editorial quoted in the ad. "Talk about paranoia!" say the (American) horse lovers. "The fact is, we don't know of a single vegetarian on our board but can mention a few enlightened hunters and anglers who are able to make the distinction between a horse and a cow."
Perhaps they can enlighten me as well: What precisely is the morally and legally relevant distinction between a horse and a cow? Is it all about aesthetics? Lambs are awfully cute. Is the issue intelligence? Pigs are pretty smart. The absence of vegetarians from the board of the National Horse Protection Coalition will not prevent other people from citing the horse slaughter ban while arguing that Congress should protect their favorite animals.
The horse lovers simultaneously condemn opponents of the ban as "special interests" (unlike the people obsessed with preventing others from eating their sacred animal) and insist that "no U.S. interests are involved" (because it's only those barbaric foreigners who eat horsemeat). Instead of receiving overwhelming support in Congress, the folks who venerate horses should get exactly the same reaction as Hindus demanding a ban on cow slaughter or Jews insisting that pork should be forbidden throughout the land.