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In Carriage Horse Fight, Who’s Most Contemptible?


When actor Liam Neeson goes on The Tonight Show to promote the carriage horse industry (along with his latest dumb movie) …

… and Jimmy Fallon agrees with him that the New York carriage horse trade is a “tradition” and that the horses love dragging tourists through the traffic of Midtown …

… and the audience cheers …

Which of this unsavory trio should get the prize for being the most contemptible?

Should it be the actor, for taking out his male testosterone issues on the horses? (He later challenged the Mayor, who has pledged to bring this cruelty to an end, to “man up” and debate him at the horses’ stables.)

Or is it Jimmy Fallon, for being more concerned with sucking up to actors than with protecting abused animals?

Or do we give the prize to the audience for cheering at whatever the actor says and the host agrees with? Judge for yourself in the first couple of minutes from this Tonight Show clip:

I’d say the audience wins. Judging from their behavior, you’d have to believe that if Neeson were lobbying for child abuse, Jimmy Fallon would agree with him, and the audience would just keep cheering.

Fallon comes in second for being such a toady.

And while Neeson is clearly contemptible, it’s the audience that has the power to stop this by giving him the silent treatment or, indeed, by booing him and Fallon off the stage.

To confirm this, check out what happens when Neeson goes up against a host who’s not as brain-dead as Fallon. Here he is on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, who, while remaining friendly, makes it crystal clear that he doesn’t buy Neeson’s shameful nonsense about the carriage horse trade. There’s no cheering this time: the audience goes with Stewart:

The response of Stewart and the audience clearly throws Neeson off balance. So, what does he do? Like an angry child, he challenges Stewart to a fist fight! Sure, it’s play-acting, but it’s quite revealing about a man who’s either too high on testosterone … or perhaps too low.

As for the 220 horses who work nine hours a day pulling carriages full of inane tourists around the hard city pavements, inhaling exhaust fumes and often terrified out of their wits: According to the animal protection lobbying group NYCLASS (please sign their petition), they have been in at least 18 accidents in the last two years alone. Like, for example:

  • the carriage horse who was hit by a bus
  • the owner/driver who was arrested for forcing his horse to keep trotting around Central Park with an injured leg.
  • the horse who collapsed and died in October 2011
  • the horse who got spooked in traffic and knocked over the carriage next to him.
  • … and so many more. (More details at The Gothamist.)

Back in their city stables, they can barely lie down, and when they’re no longer able to work, they’re sent to auctions in Pennsylvania where they can be, and are, sold to business people who transport them to Mexico or Canada to be slaughtered and exported as meat.

That’s a great life, Liam. Maybe you should “man up” yourself and take their place on the streets. You, too, Jimmy. And bring your audience, too, to cheer you along.