Sunday, February 05, 2012
BETTER LEFT TO BOARDWALK EMPIRE
In case this little news item slipped by unnoticed during the past week, the owner of the Steel Pier in Atlantic City plans to bring back the almost century-old horse diving sideshow where real horses walk up the steps of a 40 foot tower, are mounted by a bathing beauty and then dive into a 12 foot pool below.
Seriously. I am not kidding. Not even a little.
“It’s iconic, it’s historical and it’s very popular”, Steel Pier President Anthony Catanoso told the NBC-TV affiliate in Philadelphia.
In the opinion of the local president of the American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA): not so much. “I think it’s disgusting and I think it’s cruelty to animals,” said Nancy Beall.
I come down squarely on the side of the Atlantic City SPCA, and anyone else who cares about the humane treatment of animals. It’s a pretty safe bet that some of the intended horses will have at one time been racehorses. How anyone can think that this so-called attraction, which lasted into the 1970s, is a good idea or an acceptable sort of family entertainment is beyond me. And it’s beyond the pale.
As any aficionado of the superb and award-winning HBO series “Boardwalk Empire” can tell you, that so-called glory era of Atlantic City was also marked by racism, bigotry, sexism, domestic violence, anti-Semitism, extortion, blackmail, prostitution, prohibition, political corruption, the absence of labor laws, child abuse, class warfare, extreme violence, race fixing, World Series rigging, and the rise of mega-gangsters like Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Arnold Rothstein, and Waxy Gordon and organized crime syndicates.
That all makes for riveting plot lines, fabulous character development, terrific dialogue, and a magnificent television series, but all of it and the horse diving shows are better left to celluloid and history. Using horses for that sort of “entertainment” is blatant cruelty and excessive abuse, pure and simple.
“The Humane Society of the United States emphatically opposes equine diving acts, which subject the animals to inhumane and potentially abusive situations in the training, transport, and performances,” said Keith Dane, director of equine protection for the Humane Society of the United States, in a written statement to the media. “The stress and trauma endured by these animals, in addition to the risk of injury to them, makes these acts unacceptable. They are senseless animal exploitation for the sake of entertainment and profit.”
It defies the imagination that that this recent announcement is being met with what is termed “mixed reaction”. People have been quoted in various media saying they can’t wait to see the shows, which Catanoso wants to have operation by Memorial Day weekend.
If the SPCA and the HSUS can’t stop this as threatened through the legal system in time, the admission fee will be about $10 for adults. That money would be far better spent at the racetrack supporting the on track handle and purses paid to responsible horsemen.