Barbaro - Horse, NOT Human
Joan Fairman Kanes, The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Barbaro’s death was tragic ... because of what every horse is. You would have to look a long, long time to find a dishonest or cruel horse. " New York Times editorial
Okay, that does it. When the New York Times editorial board starts anthropomorphizing horses, we're in big trouble.
The Times editorial went on, "It is no exaggeration to say that nearly every horse — Barbaro included — is pure of heart." Well yeah, it's no exaggeration -- because it can't be proven in the first place.
And as for the Times' claim that horses aren't dishonest or cruel, how does one quantify such a thing? Horses don't rob convenience stores. Or knock each other around on Saturday night after a little too much barley. It's an idiotic analogy.
I have nothing against animals. I grew up with dogs and cats. With fish, birds, turtles. And with horses. We had a horse for a time named Patches. Though my sisters were the riding enthusiasts, not me.
I admit I never felt comfortable around horses, even Patches. They're so big. And they can be trained to do only so much. Even then, just about anything can spook them and all hell can break loose. I gotta tell you, it seems to me they just don't get it.
And whether we're talking about an award winner like Barbaro or your family dog, in the end humans trump animals. Period. We emerged from the ooze with genuine intelligence, no matter whether it's used ultimately for good or evil. We have the ability to think, to invent, to create.
Humans don't simply operate within a set instinctive pattern -- we look forward, we extrapolate, we develop, we have plans and goals and dreams. We can be trained to respond to positive reinforcement or inhumane barbarity but at some critical point we inevitably rise up and say, Enough!
We possess humanity. We understand right from wrong. Sure, we have the capacity to abuse ourselves and our fellow humans ... and our animals too. But we also have the ability to advance ourselves and our civilization, which we have continued to do throughout recorded history.
This game we play pretending our animals have thoughts and souls and rights is a very slippery slope. Because elevating money-winning animals to star status is seriously close to idol worship. And it devalues the thoughts and souls and rights of humans.
Barbaro's death came during a personal tragedy within my circle of friends. It was unsettling to see a horse monopolize the news while we were mourning the death of a man, a husband, a father, Dick Doran.
And it's unsettling to see so much ink and video and news coverage reporting and encouraging outpourings of public grief over the death of one horse when so many human beings continue to die horrible deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I'm sorry Barbaro died. But frankly, I was glad to hear his owners decided to euthanize him instead of allowing his pain and suffering to continue. That's the one way our society should treat humans the same as we do animals.
Otherwise, our priorities should be focused on decreasing unnecessary death and increasing the quality of life, first and foremost for all human beings.