I can't recall a moment of my life when I cared about horseracing. I can't recall a moment when I cared about a horse. But as resident animal rights guy among sports bloggers, allow me to comment a bit on the death of Barbaro--a story that, frankly, I would not even be aware of if it were not for bloggers talking about it (so bloggers, if you've got contempt for the story, go look at your own damn sites). I have no interest in the story itself; I have interest in the reaction to the story.
I am not offended in the least that people are laughing about Barbaro's death. It's not because, as many are saying, it's "just a horse," but because I find it acceptable to laugh at death. Earlier this week "What was that bang?" suggested re-animating the corpse of Reggie White. When I read it, I laughed. Make all the fun you want: Barbaro doesn't care. Laughing into the face of death is one way to deal with death.
I also think a lot of grieving and mourning over Barbaro is silly, but not, as many of you would say, because it's "just a horse." It's because Barbaro is no better (and no worse) than any other animal that is exploited, abused, or harmed for human amusement, pleasure, or profit. If you are sad over Barbaro's death but are enjoying a hamburger or steak today, I want you to tell me why exactly a particular horse is better than a particular cow. Certainly personal awareness makes a difference: we cry when a close friend or relative dies but not when hundreds or thousands die in a tragedy far from us, or we cry when our dogs die even though pigs--just as smart and lively as dogs--are killed and eaten all the time. But if you're sad about Barbaro, you might just want to stop eating those burgers, and you might just want to get rid of that leather, because Barbaro is just like a lot of the animals that are being used for human pleasure.
If you are into horse racing and you are sad about Barbaro's death, just think about how you are partly responsible for Barbaro's death because you support horse racing. As I noted yesterday, horse racing shouldn't exist because it is by its very nature abusive toward the animals. It's not sad that one particular horse died because of a horse racing injury; it's sad that all sorts of horses are being used and mistreated for the sport of horse racing.
Here are some of the posts and articles I've looked at about Barbaro (many of these posts and articles I found because they were linked from other of the posts and articles listed here). Some of these writers make good points; others make lousy, illogical points.
The Big Lead
Lion in Oil
Why Don't We Get Drunk and Blog?
Leave the Man Alone
The Mighty MJD
I Dislike Your Favorite Team
We Are the Postmen
The Big Picture
(I don't go out of the way to talk about animal rights on my sports blog, but when a sports story inspires it, then I will. Blogs are all about unique takes that you can't get everywhere else).
UPDATE: If you are interested, PETA has commented on Barbaro's death.