A horse is a horse, of course, of course. But sometimes that horse is a dinner course. And that's where the Save the Horses Campaign is determined to draw the line.
Their underfunded, grassroots campaign to just say neigh to slaughtering Trigger or Silver for the sake of a three-quarter-inch steak on an Asian or European plate qualified for the November ballot with some 750,000 signatures.
"In this country we don't eat our pets. And that includes our dogs, cats and horses," explains Cathleen Doyle, the initiative's leader.
Although there are no horse-slaughtering facilities in the state, backers of Proposition 6, which would make dealing in horses for human consumption a felony, contend that California is the number-one supplier, providing approximately 20 percent of the nation's horse meat.
Though it's supported by a host of Hollywood stars, American horse organizations, racetracks, police and firefighter groups, and even the L.A. County district attorney, the message of Prop. 6 is being censored by 18 TV stations in L.A., Sacramento and San Francisco.
Yes, those same "caring" folks who unflinchingly broadcast images such as the North Hollywood shootout and the LAPD's killing of two bank robbers, a distraught man's fiery suicide on one of L.A.'s freeways, and, of course, the carnage from Kosovo, have deemed the commercial prepared by the horse folk "too offensive" for the tube.
In response, the group has been forced to redo the ad three times, eliminating evidence of horse killing. Only then did a few stations agree to run the censored version of the spot.
The rejected ad, created from smuggled video, featured a horse led into a killing pen, hit twice with a stun gun and then later hung up by his feet. It was made to illustrate the torture these animals go through, say Prop. 6 organizers.
"It's an anti-cruelty initiative. That's the whole point. So how do you illustrate the cruel and painful death these horses suffer, without showing it?" says Kit Paraventi, a supporter of Prop. 6 and writer of the banned ad.
Doyle and Paraventi also contend the group was very sensitive to the nature of their message. "We have some extremely grisly, graphic stuff, but we selected these pictures because they present such a moderate image," says Paraventi.
The Weekly contacted a number of local stations for comment, but only KNBC responded. "We're invited into people's living rooms, and children watch our news. We felt the first commercial would just not be pleasing to our audience," explains Bill Emerson, the station's manager for political sales and standards and practices. Emerson agreed to run a spot sans horse-slaughter visuals.
As for those other troubling images in the newscasts: "We run news stories in context. That's not the same as a 30-second spot edited for impact," he adds. "I'm not going to write their commercial for them, but there are lots of ways you can talk about horse slaughter. You don't have to show it. Viewing their first commercial caused extraordinary [emotional] upset at this station."
The Sister Skates Again
Since 1996, it's been an annual event - sort of like Halloween - for the LAPD to come trick-or-treating at Sister Somayah Kambui's South-Central home and arrest her for possessing and cultivating marijuana. And, as we reported last year, D.A. Gil Garcetti's office has repeatedly declined to prosecute.
The 48-year-old grandmother, Air Force vet, former Black Panther, and Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center (LACRC) member operates the Crescent Alliance Self Help for Sickle Cell Project Hemp Is Hep, a small medical-marijuana and nutritional-hemp food co-op. On October 8, narcotics officers arrested her for possession of 35 plants. Kambui, who has sickle cell anemia, spent two weeks in stir, including one in the Twin Towers hospital. Kambui languished unmedicated and in excruciating pain despite letters from a Veterans Administration doctor approving her use of the demonized herb. Then, last week, the D.A.'s Office, once again, dropped all charges "in the interest of justice."
"I don't know what part of Proposition 215 the LAPD don't understand - the part that says medical marijuana is legal or the part that says leave patients the hell alone," says LACRC director Scott Imler. Imler's center paid for Kambui's legal fees, as they do for all busted members (they've won nine dismissals).
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The LAPD, apparently, hasn't had much time to look over the 1996 voter-approved measure, since it's too busy virtually torturing med-heads such as Kambui.
While narc higher-ups acknowledge that they have never seen a departmental memo on the controversial law, they don't appear troubled by the lack of direction. Medical marijuana "is a big waste of time," says South Bureau Detective Stephen Frizzell, who compared its therapeutic use to "hitting yourself in the foot with a hammer to cure a headache."
At Parker Station officer Stacey Kunch of the media relations section says he's unaware of official procedure for med-mar claims.
In the meantime, Kambui is recuperating while her attorneys prepare to file a motion for the return of her plants. "I'm not impressed that the charges have been dropped," she says. "What will be worth all this is to get this medicine back."