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Hold Your Horses 

Letters published May 18, 2005

Hold Your Horses
Another round of Shoot the Messenger:
Of the many phrases I can think of to describe this story ["Eating Mister Ed," May 4], "unbalanced and sloppy journalism" comes to the top of the list. Denise Grollmus has done her part to perpetuate the lie that sending horses to slaughter is both necessary and responsible. Why Scene would choose to normalize something that is shameful, obscene, and an embarrassment to this country is a mystery.

Auctioneer Dean Beachy, presented as "pragmatic," says, "What are we gonna do with all these horses?" If the writer had checked, she would have learned that there were approximately 350,000 horses slaughtered in the United States in 1990. This was down to about 40,000 in 2002. This extreme reduction in numbers did not result in neglect and cruelty to horses. Under Beachy's rationale, America should have had neglected horses wandering the streets during those years.

Anyone who reads the subtext will realize that, if those people have to operate "under the radar," it's for a good reason. The vast majority of Americans don't want their horses put through the hell of slaughter. Publications that don't present balance in the stories they publish ultimately aren't perceived as credible. Just something for Scene to keep in mind.

Valerie Kennedy

Better lock those barn doors: Well done, Denise! Your article was so well written. So many facts needed saying. But it omits one of the most horrible things about the slaughter industry -- horse theft. Every week I see an announcement of some horse taken right out of someone's barn or yard. A few weeks later, the search often ends at the slaughterhouse.

I can think of about 10 instances where a family pet was microchipped and, within a few days, was already shipped to Texas and run through the slaughterhouse. Oh, but they are kind enough to allow you to look through the hides to identify your stolen pet, maybe so you'll have peace of mind.

The laws need to change so that men like Baker can find another business. I know there's a ton of people that do not see what you're trying to convey in your article. I do. Keep it up.

Lora Burgess

Not just the lame and the halt: Thank you for printing this article! I frequent the Sugarcreek auction. Leroy Baker is not the monster many seem to think. I know several rescuers who frequent this auction that deal with Baker; he is a kind man.

Don't get me wrong; I do not approve of horse slaughter. One thing everyone needs to realize is that the majority of the horses being sold at this auction are sound, sane, and rideable! They are a product of the racing industry and of irresponsible backyard breeders.

Ida B. Crum

Spare cultural icons and other creatures: Great cover invoking my favorite television character of all time, Mister Ed. The best episode in television history was when Ed tried out for the Dodgers and slid into home plate.

What about Arnold Ziffel and Elsie the Cow? What is the difference?

Michael Levin, a grateful vegetarian

Crunching the numbers: Thanks for the informative article about horses sold for meat at Sugarcreek. Allow me to take one exception to the article, and that is concerning the cost of caring for a horse: $11,000 a year is awful darn high. Board in most barns in Northeast Ohio is anywhere from $200 to $500 a month, and $500 a month gets a lot of services in a good location.

Total costs other than board really don't come close to $11,000 a year. And no one I know insures their horses. The upshot is that the care of my trail horse costs me well under $4,000, so giving readers the impression that it's nearly triple that is misleading, making me wonder if other facts in the article are off kilter as well.

Mary Kay Dessoffy
Middleburg Heights

Follow the money: Thank you for writing the article that no one wants to read. It exposes Leroy Baker for the scum that he is. Money and greed are obviously the motivating factor. I don't buy the excuses he makes for the gross mistreatment of animals.

I am one among millions who are sick to death of the horrible practice of horse slaughter and feel that it has no place in a supposedly civilized nation. What the almighty dollar does to people is absolutely criminal. Horses deserve to die with dignity and respect; we owe them that.

Linda Foster
Placentia, California

Not Funny
Somebody unplugged the office PC meter:
The title of this little item is offensive, not to mention appallingly stupid and insensitive ["Schindler's Wine List," May 4]. The pun, a play on the movie Schindler's List, which tells the story of how one man saved some Jews from the Nazis' juggernaut of destruction, makes light of trauma and tragedy for the sake of a clever headline. What's worse, you ran this during Holocaust Commemoration Week. What were the editors thinking? It certainly leaves a rotten taste in my mouth.

Laura Taxel

There's a Limit
And it was passed long ago:
I think what the FCC wants to do, in part, is keep the bar from being lowered ["Indecent Proposal," April 20]. If they don't do something, by the year 2075 we'll have people screwing on prime time. If that's funny to you, think how cute it will be when your two-year-old grandkid is screwing the dog.

On a similar note, I think recording music with questionable lyrics is up to the "artist," but there's just too much indiscretion in society these days -- things government sanctions can't touch. Maybe better parenting or schooling could. I heard a guy blasting his car stereo in the driveway with kids playing around it -- guys rapping ugly stuff about female genitalia. Maybe I'm a prude, but it really offended me, and yes, I do worry about the kids hearing crap like that in their innocent years.

The Constitution says something about a right to bear arms, like the First Amendment says there's a right to free speech. It does not say you can use arms in a harmful way (unless you're killing government-sanctioned targets), and the First Amendment doesn't say you can cauterize kids' minds against human dignity with "free speech."

When the bar is lowered as far as it is, we have mothers telling their four-year-old daughters to "shut your motherfucking mouth" with as much ease as telling them to pick up their toys. I've seen it. I go along with anybody who wants to stop public obscenity (read: dehumanizing public language) where it stands.

Marc Mannheimer

Thoughts are things: Because Congress aims to tax shock jocks, you pose the question: Is speech really free? If you want to drive an SUV and pollute our environment, you have to pay extra for gas. If you want to punch someone in the face, you have to pay fines for assault. If you want to demean, insult, and violate other people with your words, then why wouldn't you pay for the damage you do to other human beings?

Are we so spoiled that we have forgotten what freedom of speech is all about? It gives us the ability to critique our government and economic systems freely, without fear of incarceration. If we are truly fighting for freedom, why fight a pathetic battle to uphold the right of the obnoxious, instead of opposing the Patriot Act?

My other concern is that our consciousness is so polluted that we will actually defend the rights of people who bring pornography, violence, racism, and sexism to our children. Why do we not have a single radio show -- let alone an entire radio station -- devoted to children's programming? Why can't we let our children be children, instead of letting our DJs get rich by treating other people like filth? Where is our sense of social responsibility?

Why do we reward and defend people who want to murder us with their tongues?

Meagen Huelsenbeck

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