In the past week I've been asked several times for my opinion of the Scott Blasi video that was secretly shot by a member of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, in case you're not hep). As I grow older and hopefully gain some wisdom with the years, I've made it my philosophy to thoughtfully respond rather that react with a knee-jerk emotion, even though initially, I did. I admit it. Here's a link to the video...I warn you, it's not easy to watch. Forget about Blasi's profanity...like it or not people, it's a lot of the culture. And forget about the young woman who shot the video, she's a minor player.
I perused PETA's website. I wanted to inform myself what they are all about, something they don't always reciprocate toward their targets. Their mission is to bring attention to and end the perceived cruelty of factory farms, the clothing industry, laboratory testing and the entertainment industry involving the use of animals. There's also an extensive Wikipedia article which appears non-biased. PETA freely admits to using guerrilla tactics which they say is necessary to gain attention to animal abuses and exploitation. Some of these tactics are extreme, even getting themselves labeled as a terrorist threat by certain organizations.
The video is alarming, to put it mildly. As a former race tracker of twenty-five plus years, I recognize many of the practices and procedures illustrated. Most are legal and therapeutic. However, it doesn't make a case for ethics or what is humane. I was extremely upset and disturbed. I know what I know. However, here's were I take issue as do most of my peers: the supposedly seven hours of recording were sliced and cut down to nine and a half minutes of what I can only deduce to be the worst and the most damning in order to further PETA's overwrought campaign against horse racing. This is where PETA fails.
The horse racing industry is made up of some the hardest working people on the planet. The vast majority love their horses, take exemplary care of them, and always put their horse's needs first long before their own. Why else would someone work seven days a week all day long for months on end at something they didn't have an insane passion for? Of course there will always be the abusers everywhere. Heck, there are many, many who shouldn't have dogs and cats.
I'm not making excuses. I had to ask myself: can PETA, who spends so much time, money and effort, often putting themselves in harm's way in order to champion the cause of animals be all that bad?
The talking heads of all the major racing organizations are “gravely concerned” and “launching investigations” into the matter portrayed in the video. Why does it take something like this to institute badly needed change? I'm not an executive, nor do I possess the business acumen but hello, the need for nationwide, consistent rules and regulations and the consistent enforcement of said rules has been requested by the horse people themselves for a long, long time. Not only do unscrupulous trainers exist, but also unscrupulous owners who in my opinion should also bear responsibility and be called to task in these situations.You know them, the ones who instruct their trainers to "win at all costs."
It's a great game when it's played fairly,