Stenholm yesterday criticized animal advocates' initiatives to ban the slaughtering of horses. He was interviewed on Chicago's WGN radio during Saturday's "Noon Show," which focuses on farming and animal "agriculture."
I first read about Stenholm, who served Texas as a U.S. representative from 1979 to 2004, in December in an e-mail from The Humane Society of the United States. The HSUS had written about possible nominees to fill Barack Obama's Cabinet positions. Stenholm was someone the HSUS did not want to see as Agriculture secretary.
During his time in Congress, Rep. Stenholm was hostile to even modest animal protection reforms, and he has since lobbied Congress on behalf of the factory farming and horse slaughter industries.According to the HSUS, "[s]tate legislatures [...] acted to stop horse slaughter, shuttering the last remaining foreign-owned horse slaughter plants in the U.S. in 2007." Northern Illinois had been home to one plant, and two were located in Texas.
During yesterday's interview Stenholm argued that horse slaughter shouldn't be banned in the United States because unwanted horses are suffering more than ever due to being transported to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. But instead of supporting a current bill to ban that transportation, Stenholm argued against it, saying horse slaughter plants in the United States should be reopened.
Instead of making the owners of "unwanted" (and therefore killed) horses the enemy, he preferred to criticize animal advocates. He employed a fallacy common to anti-animal arguments: It's tradition in Europe to eat horse meat. So why not give the Europeans what they want?
One interesting part of the conversation with Stenholm was his repeated use of the phrase "Humane Society PETA." By omitting "and" between the two entities, I believe he is hoping to tie the HSUS to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. If someone dislikes one organization (most likely PETA), then she must also hate the other. And since these two are the biggest animal-advocacy groups, they are often viewed as the only pro-animal groups. Therefore, if one is distasteful, then all animal advocates are viewed as being on the wrong side of animal issues.
The host of the show, Orion Samuelson, a supporter of animal "agriculture," acknowledged that not all listeners would agree with Stenholm's views and encouraged people on the other side to weigh in with their opinions. Of course, then the show ended, so no one could call in to dispute Stenholm.
(Photo courtesy of WorldProutAssembly.org.)