Last week Benjamin Taylor took to The Daily Weekly to note the recent unanimous vote by the Snohomish County Council banning horse slaughtering for human consumption. Many, it seems, had no idea such a vote transpired, and had no idea of the issues surrounding the vote. However, Daily Weekly commenter VickeryEckhoff is not one of those people.
On Wednesday Snohomish County officially banned the slaughtering of horses and any animal of the genus equus for human consumption with a 4-0 vote on Ordinance No. 12-106 in the county council. Further, such slaughtering was defined as a misdemeanor, punishable with a maximum $1,000.00 fine and 90 days of jail time.
Since 2007 sanctioned horse slaughtering has not occurred in the United States. After a Congressional decision in 2006 to stop allocating the Department of Agriculture money for slaughterhouse inspections, each U.S. horse slaughterhouse was forced to close its doors or operate illegally.
But after a June 2011 report published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed a lack of slaughtering houses in the United States only increased the number of horses being shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter, President Obama and Congress decided to reappropriate money to inspections that November, effectively reopening the horse slaughtering business in the U.S.
Daily Weekly commenter VickeryEckhoff took the opportunity to set the record straight.
Commenter VickeryEckhoff writes:
Benjamin Taylor: Why on earth did you take on this complex and important humane, political and environmental news story when you are admittedly ignorant of it due to professed disinterest in the subject matter?
Getting past your completely childish and unprofessional opening paragraph, your careless approach misstates so many facts as to be a detriment to the public's understanding.
Food safety, for instance. Many, many credible media outlets have correctly (and recently) reported on the tremendous food safety hazards of illegal drugs in horse meat that are banned by the FDA and are cancer-causing. Your review of how horse meat is prepared in Europe is cut and pasted from some very old and uninformed "news" content from ABC, which itself cut and pasted from other uninformed news sources that it did not fact check. If you're going to cut and paste information from any media without checking it, at least use recent examples! Dozens of news articles on how Europeans do not want US horse meat any more have appeared over the last several months and even weeks. By 2013, the US market will be gone for horse meat, because the US slaughter horse population is contaminated with drugs banned in food animals, the USDA has no means of controlling it, and the Europeans know it.
Now for your comments about the GAO report. Mexico and Canada have always slaughtered US horses. Naturally, when US plants closed, they absorbed even more. This was supposed to be stopped by passing legislation that banned domestic slaughter and export to slaughter, but special interests have blocked vote after vote on legislation. The GAO report is widely reported to have been ordered up by cattle ranchers looking to eliminate any and all restrictions on slaughter. It had no objective data in it. It is, in other words, part of a larger political story. And its not the one you've alluded to in your comments about President Obama.
You obviously don't understand what happened on Nov. 18, 2011, when President Obama and Congress signed the Ag appropriations bill that reopened the door to inspections. Obama and Co. didn't decide to reappropriate money to inspections. What they did is sign a massive bill, thousands of pages long, under pressure of a government shut down. Inside that bill, language banning the funding of inspections (which had been in place for 5 years) had been quietly removed by three pro-slaughter congressmen during a closed-door session. Do you think Obama read the bill and said, "oh good. They've removed the ban on inspections; now slaughter can start again"? No. This is an important point and you missed it. What you also missed is this: how US laws and the will of Congress constantly get undermined by a small handful of politicians looking to benefit a few donors.
Sure, takes time to ferret out this information, but as a journalist, you can certainly appreciate how important it is, especially on a complex topic like this one. If you can't take the time to educate yourself, please--give the job of reporting on it to someone who will.
I have spent the last year writing about this topic--11 articles in all--for Forbes.com. Joe Drape of the New York Times has recently written about the drugging issues and Lornet Turnbull of the Seattle Times has written a great article which covers all the points that you missed. James McWilliams has also written about it for Slate.
Sorry to be so hard on you here, but you can do better--and we, your readers, demand it.