We Americans completely fail to appreciate the cultural and racial homogeneity that defines virtually every other extant nation-state. We think that everywhere else can and should be an American melting pot.
Anyone who has spent more than a few days in Japan (for example) should know that the introduction of a significant immigrant population would turn that nation into something that is no longer Japan. Indeed, it would likely destroy the nation.
In “They Kill Horses, Don’t They?” (March), Darcy Courteau provided a firsthand account of the fraught state of horse ownership in America today.
What do you do with a 1,200-pound animal when you can’t afford the feed, the range is overgrazed, and euthanasia is beyond your means? No one breeds a mare with the intention of sending the foal to slaughter, should it become “excess inventory.” But banning slaughter in the U.S. doesn’t stop it. And we can’t do anything about conditions in Mexico. Let’s regulate horse slaughter here, where we have a say in the matter.
Slaughter is not a humane option for combatting equine abuse and neglect—these would cease with responsible horse breeding and ownership. When California passed a strict anti–horse slaughter law in 1998, there was no increase in horse neglect and abuse cases, but there was a drop in horse theft. Being killed in a slaughterhouse in the U.S. might be marginally preferable to being killed in a slaughterhouse in Mexico or Canada, but from a horse’s perspective, it is all pretty much the same horror show. It is time for the “agrarian holdouts” who raise horses for profit to stop. For now, in this economy, the days of making money by breeding horses are over. To compound that mistake by bringing back the inhumane practice of slaughter lacks all integrity.
Darcy Courteau replies:
I’m heartened to see so many champion the horse. All animals deserve better ends than they’ll find in most slaughterhouses—so far, my parents have been able to put down aged equines themselves, and over the years they informally adopted several unwanted animals, until recent circumstances made this impossible. My sketch of a country auction was no ringing endorsement of industrial slaughter, but instead described the plight of horse owners facing difficult times. Like the de facto slaughter ban, whose unhappy consequences have been thoroughly documented by the Government Accountability Office, having horse people give up the life they know is a seductively simple but flawed solution.
We can do better by horses—responsible breeding is the first place to start—but let it be said that the horse owners I’ve known work around the clock to keep their stock fed. Whether urbanites and hobbyists like it or not, in some American enclaves, people and horses still share a fragile interdependence. Efforts to improve the lives of one group will have to address the needs of the other.
In “Night Owls” (April), Bernard Freyberg’s last name was misspelled. “The Royal Me” (April) stated that Western Australia first tried to secede from Australia in the late 1820s; however, the Australian colonies did not federate until 1901.