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Friday, March 29th, 2013

Baton Rouge, Louisiana



Chaos reigns in the Middle East, North Korea and Iran continue their nuclear threats to global stability, millions of Americans still don’t have affordable healthcare, gun control and immigration divide the nation in legislative fights, and a federal budget which needs major trimming threatens major changes in the way we live.

But last week, in the face of these concerns, a handful of U. S. Senators, led by my home state’s Mary Landrieu, brought an additional burning issue to our attention, one that they apparently believe is on a par with these critical national concerns — horsemeat.

Landrieu has been joined by South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham in sponsoring legislation to ban the consumption of horsemeat and prohibit the export of horses for that purpose.  Graham, who regularly joins other senators in a number of quixotic causes, was the one, you may recall, who labeled those who do not give the President free reign to be the judge, jury and executioner in certain criminal cases, “Wacko Nut jobs.” So, in Graham, Landrieu has found a worthy ally in her cause to regulate American taste buds.

Landrieu and Graham argue that horses are great companions and, in Landrieu’s words, “there is no humane way to slaughter a horse.”Â  I guess as opposed to wringing a chicken’s neck, taking a sledgehammer to a cow, or pumping 100,000 volts into a death penalty recipient.

Graham’s opposition to eating horsemeat has little downside if you come from South Carolina.  With all due respect to the Gamecock nation, Graham’s constituents are not noted for having a creative pallet.  But Landrieu, a Louisianan native, is a different story.  How can I say this delicately about my homefolks?  We eat anything in the Bayou State.  Horsemeat, quite frankly, is rather a tame choice. How much do we live to eat a real variety of Cajun delicacies?  Let me count the ways.

There is a festival built around food practically every weekend in some part of Louisiana.  Horsemeat pales in comparison to the variety of the local cuisine. Here are a few culinary indulgences you just might want to try.  There is the normal fare of food items that appear on local restaurant menus — alligator sauce picquante, a variety of crawfish choices, grilled rabbit, squirrel stew, venison goulash, nutria chili, possum fajitas, mountain oysters (cow’s testicles), and my personal favorite, smoked raccoon.  Some years back, I spent the better part of a day with former Louisianan Gov. Jimmy Davis (“You are my Sunshine”), whipping up coon stew.  So a little horsemeat would be a piece of cake.

Is eating horsemeat really all that unique?  Not at all.  In fact, consuming horsemeat is growing rapidly in countries around the world.  Horsemeat burgers are the current rage in pubs all across England.  The Brits have finally learned to spice up their food, and horseburgers are served with a fried egg, pickles, cheese, onion, lettuce, black pepper, mayonnaise with a bit of ketchup thrown in the mix.  Sounds tasty to me.

You can find horsemeat in butcher shops, supermarkets and restaurants all over Europe.  In France, Belgium and Sweden, horsemeat outsells mutton and lamb combined.  The demand has grown so big in Italy, that butcher shops are having a hard time keeping Carne di Cavallo in stock.  In France, the mother lode of food delicacies, they even have a horsemeat butchers’ organization called Federation de la Boucherie Hippophagique.

Horses have been a part of the military diet throughout history. From the Romans in the first century to Genghis Khan in the 13th century, the horse was a multiple staple of support.  Many warriors traveled with three or four horses each that provided milk, blood and finally meat to fuel the armies.  Back in the U.S., horse steak used to be on the menu of the Harvard Faculty Club.  So even the intellectuals had no problem with “hippophagy.”Â  (Eating horsemeat.)

Certainly, many Americans have a special affection for horses. But we have to face the fact that all horses eventually have to be disposed of. And the same horses that would be slaughtered in the US under strict guidelines are being shipped to other countries, and both treated and killed in far more cruel ways.  So the Humane Society’s concerns over the non-cruel disposal of horses just doesn’t hold water.

Doesn’t it really all come down to an individual’s right to make their own choices, and not be dictated to by politicians in Washington?  There is no safety or security issue involved.  You may not choose to buy or eat horsemeat.  But should your choices be dictated by your government?  Economist Tomas Sowell put it this way. “The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best.”

These politicians, in their wisdom, have concluded that it’s OK to eat Porky Pig, Donald Duck, Bambi, Bugs Bunny, and even the goose that laid the golden egg.  But please, please don’t mess with Mr. Ed.

Sorry Senators, this issue goes beyond eating horsemeat.  We do not need you deciding what’s best for us.  When a politician begins superimposing their beliefs on others in an arbitrary way, there is a special name for this repugnant action.  And it sure as heck is not Freedom.


 “If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

 Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownla.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownla.com

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