A few days ago I wandered into a Starbucks for an all too rare cup of excellent coffee. The barrister, a young man in his early twenties, was busy pouring this and steaming that, making all sorts of unnamed but specialized concoctions. He was being assisted by a couple of others, but the one thing that I immediately noticed was a piece of duct tape across his mouth.

UnknownI can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to use that technique when around various people, but I was mystified about his particular problem. When I asked the cashier, she called his name. When he turned to face me, I immediately understood. On the tape was written “NOH8”. The symbolism is clearly understood – No Hate.

The campaign began in California back in 2008 and, in a changed form, grows stronger every year. The current goal is to promote equality – in all human aspects. While I know little about the actual organization, I admire their ability to promote themselves so well that an employee at a Starbucks in a little town in Texas would proudly carry their message and make it his own. Obviously, he felt the issue deserved attention.

The art of drawing attention to certain movements is a fascinating subject, one I don’t fully comprehend. In the age of social media, no one needs to stand alone. A single tweet, a video, a Facebook post done well can explode a cause to the forefront of everything else within hours. That power can draw the eyes of the nation to an injustice.

A politician making a stupid comment, a shooting that ends up with a good guy injured or dead, a dog beaten, a child endangered – the response is rapid and demanding. The public rising in protest over an action that was inherently wrong is a new kind of justice never before seen. It is indeed an amazing time.

Which brings me back to the coffee shop and the thoughts that surrounded me as I sipped my double grande Americano. For whatever reason, hate seems to be more acceptable than it has been in a long time. Of course, it’s an election year and all the talk about, “Those people are bad,” doesn’t help. When the hate flows into races, when certain people are hated more than others, when we separate ourselves from “them” because they are different, it means that we are going down a very dangerous path.

History doesn’t have to repeat itself. We can only hope to learn from our past and teach the next generation what happened so they don’t replay the same mistakes. It should be enough that the older generation bears the mental scars and painful memories of past hate and saves the next generation from those horrors, but to see it all starting again….

And what does that have to do with horses? I’m glad you asked.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is starting the most horrifying and sadistic experiments imaginable on wild mares by removing their ovaries while they are standing in a dirt pen, an act most veterinarians would not do under the most sterile of conditions. With the males castrated and the mares spayed, there is no reproduction of the almost extinct herds, and the cattle ranchers will have all the government owned land to themselves. That’s hatred.images

The Interior Appropriations Bill is set to be voted on by the Senate as soon as they return from vacation. Within that bill, supported by the meat industry, is an amendment that allows the same BLM to give “excess” horses away to “States and local agencies.” Such giving allows the killers to grab truckloads of horses and take them to the borders for shipment to the slaughterhouses. While special wording in the amendment might lead us to think the horses are protected, there is no enforcement. This spells doom for thousands of horses, a mother lode of money for the meat packers and – more land for the cattle ranchers. The direct quote from a welfare cattle rancher, “Those horses are like cockroaches. They’re disgusting.” Yep – hatred.

Some people hate horses. I get that. That’s what Habitat for Horses deals with every day – taking people to court, rehabbing the beaten, battered, and starved. We still face the commercial hatred of horses, those who make their handful of silver by taking horses to the slaughterhouse. I’ve been dealing with that issue for 20 plus years and, thanks to the efforts of a nation willing to stand up to the killers, we’ve gotten – nowhere. It’s still as vicious as it was back in the 80’s. The horse slaughter pipeline is fully functioning and filled with perfect horses. It’s controlled by people filled with a love for money and a hate for horses.

The BLM has never been a horse and donkey love fest but, for the most part, they’ve kept within the law. On occasion, they’ve been caught, like letting a killer-buyer have a couple of thousand horses, and they’ve gotten away with it. As a whole, they’ve been immune to any oversight and certainly no Congressional Investigations have ever been called to look into their behavior.

But this is different and speaks of a money and power driven attack of the very existence of wild horses and burros. This is pure, raw, officially approved and sanctioned hatred by our government.

Their goal – Sterilize and kill all the wild horses and burros. Get them off the lands so cattle ranchers have complete access, along with the oil folks, the miners, the lumber industry – let the dollars speak instead of the horse lovers.

The hate is very real, my friends, and I have serious doubts about where this is headed. This is no longer a time to ponder about the future of wild horses. That thoughtful period has passed. It’s seriously time to take the tape off and scream. The silence needs to be over.

Did you hear me say that the Senate was on vacation? That means they are home, and your Senator is somewhere in your state. Never has there been a better time to visit them, to call and express your opinion about the Interior Appropriations Bill than right now. We are fighting against Section 110 of S. 3068. It’s a Senate Bill. The identical amendment has already passed the House, so your Representative can’t help.

NOH8 means no discrimination against sex, race, religion – it can also mean stopping the hatred against animals – and this is a government sponsored hatred.

Call. The very existents of our wild horses depend on you.

Author: Jerry Finch

President and Head Stall Cleaner of Habitat for Horses, a non-profit equine sanctuary

One thought on “NOH8”

  1. Jerry, I Believe We Need to Make the Government accountable!!! They (BLM etc) get away with too much! Do we the animal advocates Need to Change Our Agenda!! I say YES!!

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