Sunday, January 22, 2012


Habitat for Horses


22 Jan
The $2,000 Award
RT Fitch and I each placed $1,000 on the table as an award to anyone who can prove that equine slaughter has a basis in need other that sticking money in the pockets of the pro-slaughter crowd. Without fail, the customary propaganda spewed forth like sewage from an overflowing cesspool. Not a single statement held any factual backing. Several tried to turn the tables, challenging us to provide the answer to, “Why not?” Nor was a word uttered on this blog by the high and mighty “authorities,” although some person named “Wallis,” who thinks she is a leader of some sort, did post on several other blogs that I was an idiot and should be “investigated.” 
Meanwhile, I was proud to have a large number of comments posted against horse slaughter by this who see through the fallacies, lies and misdirections. One person, Faith Bjalobok, PhD, asked if I would like to post one of her articles that fit perfectly and answers the question about the proven “Facts” on horse slaughter. I am honored to present it to you:
There is much debate about the best way to deal with horses whose owners no longer seem to have any desire to care for them.  In terms of the solutions proposed by horse owners there are those who support slaughter and those who oppose it. Group A who view horses are mere property much in the same way one views a farm tractor tend to be pro-slaughter. Group B who view their horses as a part of their extended family believe they have a moral obligation to care for them in their old age and tend to oppose slaughter.
Currently there are no operating horse slaughter facilities in the United States. American horses destined to be slaughter are shipped to Canada or Mexico. It is estimated that about 95,000 horses annually are shipped to slaughter (Animal Law Coalition).
The proponents of opening U.S. horse slaughter facilities employ numerous informal fallacies as the cornerstone of their position. In relying on the fallacy of hasty generalization, they label all anti-slaughter people as animal rights extremists. In employing the slippery slope fallacy, they would have you believe that banning horse slaughter will inevitable lead to the end of all agriculture in the United States. Pro-slaughter arguments also tend to rely heavily on the naturalistic fallacy (it is the case therefore it ought to be the case).  Although polls indicate that nearly 70% of Americans polled are against horse slaughter, Congresswoman Sue Wallis and her supporters claim they are taking the moral high ground in their fight to bring horse slaughter back to the U.S.  The Animal Welfare Institute lists organizations and individuals opposed to horse slaughter. Included on the list of those opposed are such equine industry giants as the American Thoroughbred Association, Blue Horse Charities and the New York Racing Association.
Currently, two states California and Florida have adopted laws that make the sale or transport of horse for slaughter a crime.  HR 503 (Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act) awaiting a vote would place a federal ban on the purchase or transportation of horses for slaughter.
There is a much larger issue at stake in the horses slaughter debate that says a great deal about who we are as Americans. Ronald Dworkin (1986) argues that while justice and fairness are distinct from the law integrity in the law requires that the law reflect justice and fairness. He also argued that integrity in the law requires citizens who are committed to justice (Dowrkin, 1986 ). 
Justice is not something that occurs in a state of nature but rather it is a human construct that exists only in human society. While some societies actually place great value on justice others value justice only when its implementation is cost effective. The question then becomes why is it the case that some societies have a greater propensity to value justice than others. This discussion is not new and can first be found in Plato’s Republic.
In terms of the 18th century thinkers upon which our political system is built, the writings of Immanuel Kant hold a place of distinction.  Kant addressed that very question concerning justice in his Lectures on Ethics and in the Metaphysics of Morals. Kant did not believe that we have direct duties to animals because they are not, according to his definition of person as a rational being, part of the moral community. However, he believed that we have indirect duties to animals because Kant like Hogarth and many other thinkers believed that cruelty to animals undermines our own humanity and leads to cruelty to humans. 
Kant argued:
If he is not to stifle his human feelings, he must practice kindness towards animals, for he who is cruel to animals becomes hard in his dealings with men’
We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals (p. 240).
Again in the Metaphysics of Morals Kant argues:
With regard to the animate but nonrational part of creation, violent and cruel treatment of animals is far more intimately opposed to a human being’s duty to himself, and he has a duty to refrain from this, for it dulls his shared feelings of their suffering and so weakens and gradually uproots a natural predisposition that is very serviceable to morality in one’s relations with other men (pp. 192-193).
It appears that Kant is arguing that a compassionate predisposition towards animals aids in the development of a compassionate disposition towards other human beings which is a necessary prerequisite of a just individual. 
Of course empirical evidence of the link between animal cruelty and human cruelty is well established as is the link in increased violence in areas that open slaughter houses. Kant is the philosopher who initiated the idea of the intrinsic value of all humanity and argued for the necessity of human freedom but he also realized that none of this is possible without justice and to be committed to justice requires a certain predisposition whose development is hindered by engaging in cruelty to animals.
The final question that remains is horse slaughter cruel???  By their own admission proponents of horse slaughter admit it is in fact cruel because they keep telling us they are working to develop a humane method of horse slaughter. Animals Angels have documented the inherent cruelty in horse slaughter. The video has raised much concern among the nations of European Union so much so that they intend to investigate the Canadian and Mexican horse slaughter facilities. 
 Of course the inherent cruelty of the stun bolt created by a horse’s anatomy does not address the inherent cruelty of the fear and betrayal horses experience in the process of getting them to the slaughter house. Horses are prey animals and when they learn to trust us they go against their natural instinct and place their safety in human hands.  This trust is betrayed when we load them onto death trailers. Many observers have noted the fear in horses’ eyes as they await their death in holding lots looking for a human to protect them. 
            Based on Kant’s writings, the way we treat our horses is a reflection of our own humanity.  The humane treatment of America’s horses is a requirement of justice. If one holds a unity thesis in relation to the law that the law should reflect justice and agree with Dworkin and Kant that just people are a prerequisite of a just society, then we must urge the passage of HR 503.
Of course some individuals will argue that slaughter is the only feasible solution for horses no one wants, but that position is premised on a false dichotomy. In other words, it is not the case that either we slaughter horses or the country will be overrun with unwanted stray horses. Killing is never a just solution.  A just society must reject the slaughtering of  our horses.
Dworkin, R. in Philosophy of Law, Feinberg & Coleman, ed. 2008, Wadsworth.
Kant, I. Metaphysics of Morals, 1996, Cambridge.

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