Document:California Press Release 26 October 1998 Proposition 6

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Office of the Executive Director
11956 Riverside Dr., #206
Valley Village, CA 91607-3772
For immediate release: October 26, 1998
For additional information:
Juan Ros, Executive Director
Phone: (818) 506-0200
Fax: (818) 506-0212

Libertarian Party gives 6 reasons to vote "No" on Prop. 6

LOS ANGELES - Want 6 good reasons to vote "No" on Proposition 6 this November 3rd? The Libertarian Party of California can give them to you.

Proposition 6 would ban the sale of horses for human consumption and would prohibit the sale of horsemeat in California.

"Libertarians want to ensure that all creatures -- including horses -- are treated humanely," declared Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate Ted Brown, co-author of the ballot argument against Prop. 6. "But Prop. 6 is not a good solution and should be voted down."

The reasons for voting against Prop. 6:

(1) Prop. 6 would not "save the horses."

The state Department of Food and Agriculture estimates that 3,000 California horses were sent to slaughter last year. But should Prop. 6 pass, horse buyers and sellers would find ways to circumvent the law.

"Horses can be shipped to Nevada and held at a way station for 30 days, then shipped to a slaughterhouse. Technically, that would be legal under this law," Brown pointed out.

(2) Prop. 6 is unnecessary.

There are no facilities in California currently licensed to slaughter horses for human consumption, and nationally only 10 horse slaughterhouses are known to exist.

"Why don't the proponents of this measure go to a state where these slaughterhouses operate and try to pass legislation there?" asked Brown.

In addition, the measure's supporters cite the crime generated by the horse slaughter trade, specifically theft and fraud on the part of unscrupulous horse buyers. "But those crimes are already against the law," noted Brown.

(3) Prop. 6 is intrusive.

The initiative not only interferes in the voluntary business transactions of horse buyers and sellers but also criminalizes the consumption of a certain food.

"Government has no place telling its citizens what they should or shouldn't eat. What people consume should be their own decision," Brown stressed.

In addition, the measure smacks of cultural elitism by attempting to dictate what people in other countries should be eating. Horsemeat, while not generally eaten in the U.S., is considered a delicacy in Canada, Japan, and Belgium, where a pound of horsemeat can sell for $15.

"It's a matter of respecting each other's cultures," said Brown.

(4) Prop. 6 discriminates against other animals.

Supporters of the measure make the distinction between horses, raised to be "companion" animals, and pigs, cows, poultry, and sheep, which are generally raised as "feed" animals - and argue that horses require special protection because of their long history of serving humankind.

"How do you explain to those people with pet chickens, pigs, and even cows that their pets are not as special as horses in the eyes of the law? Where does one draw the line in creating a special class of legally protected animal?" Brown asked.

(5) Prop. 6 is bad public policy.

The main argument in favor of this measure used by supporters is the inhumane treatment of horses and the cruel methods of slaughter used. But the proposition does not attack the heart of the problem -- a flaw inherent in most legislation.

"Libertarians agree that horses should be treated with compassion, but turning horse sellers into outlaws won't change the way horses are slaughtered," said Brown. "Laws that don't address the problems they are meant to solve are bad laws, period."

(6) Prop. 6 violates individual liberties.

On the "Save the Horses" web site, Prop. 6 proponents argue, "Government has a right and a responsibility to outlaw activities which are abhorrent to the majority of the people" -- a statement inconsistent with the principles on which this country was founded.

"In the early nineteenth century, slavery was not seen as abhorrent to a majority of the people, but that doesn't change the fact that slavery was still an abomination," Brown pointed out.

"Government's primary role is to protect the lives, liberties, and properties of its citizens. That is the philosophy underlying the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and that is the best reason to vote against Prop. 6."

So what's the Libertarian solution? Prop. 6's main proponent, Long's Drug Store heiress Sherry DeBoer, spent $500,000 to qualify the initiative for the ballot.

"Ms. DeBoer could have used that money to save horses from slaughter by buying them herself, or she could have established a private foundation to raise awareness on this issue, instead of turning to the coercive force of government to legislate her personal crusade," Brown proposed.

In addition to the Libertarian Party of California, the California Cattlemen's Association, the Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee, the Fresno Bee, and the Modesto Bee oppose Prop. 6.