Saturday, 11 July 2015

Stampede Douchebaggery

Get comfy. This is a long one, kids, but I can't stay silent any longer.

Well, it’s Stampede time again and both traditional and social media are abuzz with lively debate over the ethics of rodeo.  The Calgary Stampede is a shit show for a number of reasons; although the agricultural exhibits are educational and authentic, the rest of it is, as usual, a forum for douchebags to manifest their douchebaggery. A group of people were caught (and filmed and posted on YouTube!) having sex publicly. Of greater concern, three men were stabbed the other night and one remains in hospital in critical condition.  None of this makes the Stampede any different from any other large event, such as the CNE or Edmonton’s K-Days or what have you. People in large groups gonna be douchebags.

What sets the Stampede apart from these other events is the rodeo. Already this year, two horses have been euthanized due to accidents during the chuckwagon races. Every year, there are equine fatalities resulting from this blood sport, which, I might add, is NOT a traditional cultural activity. Cowboys never raced their chuckwagons—this is a purely modern invention, aimed at bringing tourist dollars onto the Stampede Grounds, and the animals suffer for it.

Invariably, after an accident/fatality on the track, there is enormous outcry from those who are justifiably horrified by the carnage. And invariably, the rodeo supporters respond with their usual bullshit excuses. Let’s look at some of these excuses in detail, shall we?

We love our animals and would never hurt them intentionally. They’re like members of our own families.”

Oh, bullshit. I don’t doubt for a moment that on some level the “cowboys” care for these horses, but if they truly loved them, they would not expose them to so much potential danger. *That’s* what love is. The chuckwagon competitors care for these animals insomuch as the horses can win them a shit-ton of money; the Rangeland Derby offers a 1.15 million dollar purse to the winner. These boys have their eyes on the prize, and the horses are insured, so their losses (i.e. deaths) are factored into the overall costs of competing. The horses aren’t family members—they are commodities for which the competitors have some fondness. Mostly because the animals are useful and compliant.

“These animals are failed race horses. At least the chuckwagon races give them a few more years of life.

It is beyond the scope of this blog to go into all the ways in which horse racing is also abusive and deadly, but this comment strikes me as kinda twisted. It is akin to saying, “Well, they couldn’t make it in one dangerous activity about which they never had any choice, so we’re gonna give them the gift of doing something else equally as dangerous. Because life is sacred, isn’t it?”

And it is actually the sacredness of life that is at the core of this debate. Rodeo protesters see animals less as commodities and more as sentient individuals who deserve the same respect and consideration as our human brothers and sisters. Rodeo apologists? Not so much. Again, these animals are commodities. They are “just” cows, “just” steers, “just” horses. Hell, if they weren’t in the rodeo, they’d be on somebody’s plate next to the potatoes. Right?

Have you ever been behind the scenes at a rodeo? This is not abuse! The animals are cared for by veterinarians and are treated like gold!”

So, let’s look at the fact that none of these creatures have any agency whatsoever in terms of the rodeo. None of these animals choose to participate. This is a wholly human endeavour, and for a pile of cash, I might add. Over two million dollars in prize money is up for grabs in the various rodeo events, some of which include bronc and bull riding and the ever-controversial calf roping. 

And as for the rodeo events not being abusive, what is benign about this

Or this?

Or this?

How does one watch this egregious violence and not see it as exactly that?

And sure, I have absolutely no doubt that the livestock is cared for extremely well while they are part of the rodeo circuit—where is the glory in spending eight seconds aboard a tired old nag with open sores and hooves that need trimming? Obviously, it is good showmanship (and a stroke to your sad cowboy ego) to subdue a fiery, powerful beast with rage in his eyes. Yanno, the Romans and American plantation owners took care of their property, too, because their economies depended on it. Yes, their economies were dependent on slavery, which is precisely what these animals are. These animals are nothing better than gladiators, and they suffer injury, trauma and death for the amusement of humans.

If it wasn’t for rodeo, a lot of these animals would die out.”

This argument is total shite. We don’t bait bulls anymore, but the bulldog didn’t go extinct. What the fuck kind of argument is that? And besides, because the animals are viewed as commodities rather than living creatures deserving of respect, we regularly see horses sold at auction for $25.00 to who knows who? And lets not forget the news reports we read of farm animals in need of rescue from some pasture where they have been allowed to starve or freeze to death. Perhaps fewer animals is exactly what is called for here, if we cannot care for them humanely.

Regardless of the care that is lavished on the livestock all the rest of the year, rodeo is neither humane nor ethical. Defenders of the activity (it is not a sport—a sport is between two consensual parties) point to the low injury rate during the actual events as evidence that rodeo is safe and humane. "An article from the January 15, 2001 Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association noted that a survey found only 15 animals injured in 26,584 performances of 21 PRCA rodeos – a 0.00041 percent rate.[14] A 2000 survey conducted by independent veterinarians at 57 PRCA rodeos found 38 animal injuries in 71,743 animal exposures,[15] and a 1994 survey conducted by on-site independent veterinarians at 28 sanctioned rodeos involving 33,991 animal runs documented the injury rate at .00047 percent, or less than five-hundredths of one percent.[6] A study of rodeo animals in Australia found a similar injury rate. Basic injuries occurred at a rate of 0.072 percent, or one in 1405, with injuries requiring veterinary attention at 0.036 percent, or one injury in every 2810 times the animal was used, and transport, yarding and competition were all included in the study.[7] A later PRCA survey of 60,971 animal performances at 198 rodeo performances and 73 sections of "slack" indicated 27 animals were injured, again approximately five-hundredths of 1 percent — 0.0004.[5]"

That being said, however, the study does not include practice time, where the public is not on hand to observe and where the cowboy is not accountable to anyone but himself for the treatment of the animal, which is easily replaced by another. The ASPCA reports that practice sessions “are often the scene of more severe abuses than competitions”.

It is also worth noting that there are no more recent studies of rodeo animal treatment than the 1994 study. Rodeo is a lucrative business adamantly opposed to transparency, because it is founded on the blood and gore of domesticated animals. The bulls and the broncs are given dramatic names to perpetuate the myth that they are enraged, dangerous creatures. In reality, they are driven to fury with electric prods, flank straps, sharpened sticks, spurs and other tack, all so the spectators can have the thrilling show they paid for.

Finally, here are the words of two American veterinarians who I will permit to have the final say on this subject.  E.J. Finocchio, DVM wrote the Rhode Island legislature urging a ban on calf roping: "As a large animal veterinarian for 20 years...I have witnessed first hand the instant death of calves after their spinal cords were severed from the abrupt stop at the end of a rope when traveling up to 30 mph. I have also witnessed and tended calves who became paralyzed...and whose tracheas were totally or partially severed...Slamming to the ground has caused rupture of several internal organs leading to a slow, agonizing death for some of these calves."

And also, C.J. Haber, a veterinarian with 30 years experience as a USDA meat inspector notes, "The rodeo folk send their animals to the packing house where...I have seen cattle so extensively bruised that the only areas where the skin was attached [to the body] was the head, neck, legs, and belly. I have seen animals with six to eight ribs broken from the spine and at times puncturing the lungs."

Rodeo is not humane, it is not ethical. It is exploitive and cruel and deadly, and if you attend the Calgary Stampede, you are supporting that.

Rodeo is douchebaggery.
Death by douchebaggery

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Canada Day Douchebaggery

Yesterday, my glorious nation celebrated 148 years of Confederacy. It was a gorgeous day, and in the evening, thousands of my fellow Canadians of all colours and creeds from all walks of life gathered in the river valley under a full coppery moon to watch the fireworks. It was an impressive display and from our vantage point high above the crowd on the balcony of the Fragrant Missus's office, everyone seemed to be having a really good time.

But you know that this was only an illusion, because some douchebag will always drop a turd in the punch bowl and ruin it for someone else. To whit...

The Fragrant Missus, Stone Knight and I lingered for awhile, waiting for the crowds and the traffic to disperse. When we judged we could navigate the streets without much delay, we got in the car and headed home. Unfortunately, we only got as far as the corner when douchebaggery struck!

I pulled up to the corner and signaled to turn right. I checked for pedestrians and saw, shambling in our direction, an example of the Common Drunken Asshole (ebrius anus vulgaris), at large in his native habitat. I could clearly see he was going to ask us for money, which is what this species usually wants, but this one was giving off a menacing air. So, although it was a very warm evening, I put up the windows and hunkered down behind the steering wheel as if the city street had suddenly become an African Safari Park. 

Through the closed window, I indicated to ebrius anus v. that he should move along. I was assertive, but not yet hostile. Sexual activity with himself in another location was not yet suggested. However, ebrius anus was not open to dialogue and in a fit of pique, he smashed his fist onto the hood of my car, yelling incoherently. At this point, I ran out of patience; it was the end of a long, hot, busy day and I was tired and sweaty and just wanted to go home and not have my evening hijacked by some fucking cumbubble with nothing better to do than assault me and my vehicle over the issue of loose change.

I raised my voice and used some very assertive language with very specific instructions attached and put the car in gear, intending to go past him towards home. Ebrius anus, however, threw himself on the pavement in front of my tires, yelling, "Call the cops, I've been hit! Call the cops!"

The Fragrant Missus reached over from the passenger seat and began to honk the horn repeatedly. This drew the attention, not only of numerous bystanders (who did fuck all, I might add; thanks, dickbags) but also two cops on bikes. By now I was in a thunderous mood because I thought the cops would want a statement from me, thereby delaying my trip home. But no; they picked ebrius anus up off the road and and waved us on.

A little further on, we saw yet another display of douchebaggery in the form of two young males of the variety Angry Dick Bags (irratus penis sacculos). These surly cocksuckers vented their spleen by throwing a full, unopened can of soda at the garbage can, thus spraying pop friggin' everywhere, and then proceeding to kick the shit out of said garbage can. I suppose, relatively speaking, this was a benign form of disobedience in that the only victim here was the trash receptacle. I mean, it could have been another bystander. But I still rolled my eyes and wished they were wearing shock collars on their testicles to which I had the remote control. 

I am hoping over the next few days to blog again about some habitual, public douchebaggery I have witnessed in people whenever they congregate in any numbers. Which is why I hate crowds and people.