Senator Lamar Alexander, who has wonderfully dedicated his life in public service to others, is treading on a treacherous tightrope. The former U.S. Secretary of Education should have had the horse sense to know that playing footsie with the state’s repugnant “Big Lick” crowd of animal abusers will end in disaster. But he clearly embarrassed himself earlier this week when he introduced toothless legislation as an insufferable alternative to finally stop the illegal practice of soring Tennessee Walking Horses for the folly of a scurrilous and shallow crowd.
Last week Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) renewed their efforts to bring the PAST Act (Prevent All Soring Tactics) into law and already they have 17 co-sponsors, but Alexander Lamar (sic), who will be 75 this July, strangely believes if he asks his “Licker” friends nicely, they will halt the inhumane torture of the animals that has hobbled the once-majestic Walkers in the South for almost 100 years.
The simple truth is the “Big Lickers,” operating out of Shelbyville, have already decimated the once-proud state symbol and their Breeders and Exhibitors Association, which is run by Steven B. Smith, is now in tatters. Longtime Walking Horse people are fleeing the Big Lick in droves. Horse shows are being boycotted. Cheaters are being caught in record numbers and this summer, when jail sentencing is expected in some cases now that soring is indeed a state felony, the scandalous behavior of the “Lickers” is being openly referred to as “blatant suicide.”
Don’t worry: the breed will survive, it’s the Lickers who lust for the unnatural and grotesque dance now reviled and called the “Big Lick,” who are doomed. Ironically, flat-shod Walkers are experiencing a renaissance as the “sound horse” is being shown with mounting success. A sound horse is not tortured, does not wear the clumsy pads on its front hooves, and enjoys clean competition.
The “Big Lick” on the other hand, saw twice as many “tickets” – USDA citations – given at its “World Celebration” last August than the year before. A staggering 50 percent of “Big Lick” horses inspected by the USDA in Shelbyville were in violation of the federal Horse Protection Act.
Sadly, many believe Alexander’s foolish stance to harbor the “Big Lick” is because Steven B. Smith, the head of the Lickers, is Alexander’s State Finance chairman and because those who join him in the evil chicanery are dutiful, and expectant, donors to all of Tennessee’s Republican representatives in Washington. Last year a majority of U.S. senators and U.S. representatives sponsored the PAST Act but not one Republican from Tennessee dared to do so. And, believe you this, none care to discuss their preference.
The differences in the Ayotte-Warner bill and Alexander’s feeble challenge are huge. The PAST Act has badly-needed penalties including jail time, permanent disqualifications, and heavy fines and would require a certified USDA inspector to attend every show. Lamar’s idea is a 30-day suspension the first time, a 90-day suspension the next. Oh, and Lamar’s crowd insists it bring its own carloads of inspectors. Please!
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