The splashy story in The Daily News focused on a plan by newly elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to outlaw the operation of horse-drawn carriages in the city’s famed Central Park.
But the headline in the newspaper wasn’t about the controversial proposal. Instead it was about the pushback from the drivers about to lose their jobs: “NYC horse carriage drivers seek help from anti-animal rights consulting group.”
According to the story, The Cavalry Group, a lobbying and advocacy organization, launched a social media campaign targeting De Blasio for supporting legislation that would outlaw the carriage rides.
As if that’s the controversy, not the attempt to ban a practice that has been going on for more than a century.
Even the New York Post, which loves controversy, only ran a tame story noting that, “When it comes to banning horse carriages, New Yorkers say nay” (get it?) — by a margin of 2 to 1, according to a survey by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
So the mayor proposes a controversial ban on horse-drawn carriages, (and replacing them with electric cars, by the way — how romantic), a move that’s opposed by the majority of city residents, yet the “news” is that the drivers hired a “radical group” to support their cause?
Granted, the Cavalry campaign hasn’t pulled any punches. “They used to hang horse thieves. Now they elect them mayor!” a recent tweet from the group stated.
But why is it wrong for a group to launch an aggressive campaign to save people’s jobs?
As The Cavalry Groups’ website noted, “Horse-drawn carriages have long served as an iconic attraction for many residents and visitors to the Big Apple.”
(Slight correction, guys: Having lived in Manhattan once upon a time, I can assure you that residents there do not ride in the carriages; it’s strictly a tourist attraction. Other than that, right on.)
The messaging tried to portray Hizzoner’s proposal as “another example of animal rights activists run wild.” The group’s statement noted that “the pending ban will destroy several, generations-old, family carriage businesses. To radical animal rights advocates and leftists like De Blasio, these businesses are necessary collateral damage in their quest to re-order our lives.”
Over the top? Sure. Highly inappropriate? Not at all.
Truth is, the horses that are trained to pull carriages don’t have it all that bad. Other than sucking on traffic fumes — which all New York City pedestrians, human or equestrian, have to endure — they live a pretty comfy existence for a work animal. They certainly aren’t exposed to the hazards and potential danger that police horses have to confront, and nobody’s demanding that those animals be put out to pasture.