I visited the Liberty Bell on Sunday and couldn’t help but notice the Peace Advocacy Network protest right outside. No, the protesters weren’t there to demonstrate against the bell – instead, they were using its legacy as source material for a liberty-themed protest against the Horse-Drawn Carriage industry.
According to a pamphlet the protesters distributed, said industry is guilty of a litany of sin (hold your breath):
• EXPLOITATIVE INDUSTRY: In order to generate a profit and provide entertainment for tourists, the horses are enslaved and forced into a brutal existence. They are forced to work on hard pavements in dangerous, unhealthful, and unnatural conditions. This is an injustice to horses, who are social beings, and who are naturally born to live with other animals and run free.
• PUBLIC SAFETY: Horse-drawn carriages are a danger to people in vehicles, pedestrians, and bikeriders in Philadelphia, one of the most congested cities in the U.S. The carriages impede the flow of traffic, including emergency vehicles. Accidents (like the one that occurred on April 19, 2010 at 6th and Race Streets [Ed. note: could not have picked a more appropriate street]) are inevitable, as horses are easily frightened by loud, sudden noises and seemingly light impacts (even the jolt of the harness), which are a frequent occurrence in Philadelphia. The natural instinct of horses is to run when they are frightened, resulting in many serious accidents, as demonstrated throughout the world.
• CURRENT OR MODIFIED REGULATIONS WILL NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM: There is no way to eliminate the degradation that these horses endure every day without a permanent ban.
But despite the proliferation of professional pamphlets and seductive slogans, I couldn’t help but feel that in fixating on the plight of horses – which are, after all, domesticated animals – the protesters were overlooking a far more serious case of animal abuse issue right over their very shoulders:
I’m not so worried about the horses. Horse are large, muscular beasts of burden. But I’m not as certain a duck could handle the weight. Have you noticed how much smaller a bird looks plucked? Birds are tiny:
Add that to the fact that bird bones are hollow to facilitate flight, and riding a duck is literally one of the worst ideas anyone has had, ever. I don’t know why the issue hasn’t received more attention from animal rights activists.
If you’re going to insist on riding around on a bird, at least consider