Sneed: Horse Slaughter Bill Raises Questions Of Humanity

Columnist Examines Attitudes About Animals


POSTED: 4:04 pm CDT April 6, 2004
UPDATED: 5:46 pm CDT April 6, 2004

"There are times when you want to throw your hands up and whinny," said NBC's contributor and Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed in her Tuesday column.

"This is one of those times," she said, addressing the passionate response she received to the recent debate over Illinois House Bill No. 6633.

Sneed said that her office was deluged by e-mail from angry readers in response to the proposed Horse Slaughter Bill, which would have banned the slaughter in Illinois of horses for food.

A number of the messages pleaded for the bill's passage before the horse slaughter plant reopens in DeKalb in a week.

"Forget it," Sneed said.

She claims that the postponed bill will probably never again see the light of day "because powerful lobbies have convinced sympathizers it is the humane thing to do."

"I have heard from 10 to 12 state reps -- those who voted 'No' or weren't there for the vote last week -- who have told me if the bill comes back to the House, they would vote 'Yes' on it," Sneed quoted state Rep. Bob Molaro, the bill's sponsor, as saying.

"But," he added, "they would like it to be passed in the Senate first."

Included in Sneed's Sun-Times column is the following:

Fact: The chances of it passing the Senate are slim.

Fact: More than 49,000 horses were slaughtered in the United States last year at two foreign-owned slaughterhouses. They were killed for human consumption in Europe and Asia. Tens of thousands more were exported live and slaughtered abroad. Word is many of these horses are young and in great shape.

The big question: Will House Speaker Mike Madigan call the bill out of postponement before horses are led to slaughter in DeKalb?

Sneed questioned the humane treatment of the animals and argued that horses should not be slaughtered for human consumption --"even if the tables upon which they'll be served are in Europe and Asia."

"If it is illegal in this country to slaughter dogs and cats for food, why not horses?" she asked.

Sneed makes reference in the column to an essay by Henry Beston titled "Outermost House."

In it Beston states: "We need ... a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals.

"We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err.

"For the animal shall not be measured by man.

"In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.

"They are not brethren, they are not underlings. They are other nations caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth."

Sneed says that we pet, ride, work, groom and even love horses.

"And then we -- eat them!"

She doubts that "eating those who trust us" can be regarded as a delicacy.