Thank you, everyone, for bringing so much to light by contributing to the discussion. I hope you'll continue on because there is so much more to talk about.
The Time article I used as a source in the post is one that I give weight to because it is from Time. Even though all news agencies have a gatekeeper, journalists are still taught, and most adhere to, a code of ethics that would be a challenge to anyone outside the profession. One of those particular codes is that they report events as objectively as possible, without personal involvement. Reporters are researchers and will confirm facts with several sources before stating them as facts; or the facts will be verified by someone on staff. As with all ethical codes, it is a guide, a guideline, and a way to protect both the reporter and the reportee.
With Time as one of the most notable publications in the country, I'd say that, as a source of information, it can be trusted much more than, say, me or any other Joe Schmoe with an opinion about an issue. As national as CBS, Time holds their reporters to the same standards of reporting. (Think about what happened with Dan Rather and you'll understand what I mean.) Is what they report 100% accurate 100% of the time? That is not humanly possible. But, it's a far more objective source of information than any special interest group because news reporters at least work at being fair.
Smaller publications will write what is most relevant for their readership. Farming and agriculture newspapers and magazines are no exception. The same ethics and standards apply, no matter what the size of the publication. If there are slants, then it is because it is the general preference of its readership. If not, the publication wouldn't survive.
The Slaughter Issue Itself
The thought of killing a horse or any other animal horrifies me. I cannot condone killing at all. It breaks my heart to think that, if I want protein in my diet, a cow or pig has to die. This is a major cause of 'cognitive dissonance' for me, and it will remain, as long as I continue to try to convince myself that beef and pork come from the grocery store.
But, the anti-slaughter faction strikes as bad a chord with me as the anti-abortion crew does.
I personally would never have an abortion. As soon as I hit 40 without marrying and having a "real" family of my own, I gave up that dream, and I'll tell you why: There is no way that I would chance a pregnancy at risk for Downs Syndrome or any other birth defect because I would not ever want to be in a position to have to decide to terminate the pregnancy. That is the life choice that I made.
But, because I made that choice for myself does not mean that I have the right to make that choice for someone else. It is up to each woman to decide for herself what she can and cannot do, and no one has any right, any claim to superiority, any claim to ownership over her or her body or the choices she is faced with.
In the same way, I would personally never choose to slaughter my horse. But, the reality of it is that I may have no other choice when the time comes. I would hope to own land where there are no restrictions to burying large animals, but that is too far in the future for me to know for certain. I may even pass over before he does. Again, it is my choice, and because I make this particular choice does not mean that I have the right to take someone else's choice away.
Freedom of choice is a fundamental right. As with all freedoms, there is responsibility. Taking responsibility and being responsible earns freedom. Way back in my memory is hearing something about some state sterilizing mentally retarded people, and how the doo doo hit the fan. The institution performed the procedure without consent or knowledge. I suppose they thought their arguments were valid and that they were solving a 'problem.' But, what they did is break a fundamental right to choose.
As much as everyone wants to paint child protective services as pariahs or evil, what they strive to do is maintain the family first. They will work with people, give education and support, and do everything they can to keep the family intact. Only when it is determined that a child is in absolute risk of abuse or neglect will they take the child out of the home. The parents are given every opportunity to rectify the problems, to be responsible before the state moves to remove the child.
In essence, the same holds true for animal abuse and neglect. It is only recently that animal abuse and neglect laws have become felonies, and only in some states. The majority of the time, an animal is of so little consequence that there is very little enforcement of laws and legislation on animal welfare.
Whether we have a child or an animal, we are in the custodial role. It is our responsibility to provide for and care for that child or animal because we made the choice to have it. If you fail in your responsibilities, then you lose the child or animal - i.e., the freedom to choose.
My point with this is that we all have to define for ourselves our fundamental beliefs. I have defined my beliefs and live my life in such a way as to stay true to those beliefs. I have found that much of life's questions are clearly answered if drilled down to the core: free will and choice.
Once one choice is taken away, it becomes much easier to take another, and another, and another.
No matter what the cause, no matter if it's more or less compared to such and such a year, the fact remains that horses are starving to death now.
No matter which side of the slaughter issue you choose to stand, this is the crisis that is happening right now. Instead of beating to death the same old arguments with the same list of biased sources, lets put our heads together and come up with ways to solve the current crisis. In the end, working together to end this crisis will appease both camps. There is only one reason to do so, and one reason only:
For the love of the horse.
About the Photo: When I looked out my window yesterday morning, there was Dagger curled up with Odin. I grabbed my camera and snapped this photo right as Odin was falling over in a deep sleep. When he did fall over, his front legs hit Dagger who yelped and sprang out of the way. The yelp startled Odin and he jumped up fast. I burst out laughing, and Odin gave me a dirty look. I wish I had gotten that shot too.