April 15, 2014

The actor Liam Neeson defends horse-drawn carriages in Central Park: "I can’t help but see the proposed ban as a class issue."

"A majority of carriage drivers and stable hands are recent immigrants, often raised on farms in their home countries."
They love their jobs and their horses, and they take pride in being ambassadors for this great city. I can’t help but see the proposed ban as a class issue: Their livelihoods are now at risk because the animal-rights opponents of the industry are well funded by real-estate interests, which has led to speculation that this powerful lobby wishes to develop the West Side properties occupied by the stables.
Interesting class politics. Neeson's target is NY's left-wing mayor, Bill De Blasio, who Neeson says should at least "come down to the stables and see how the horses are cared for" and "meet the working men and women whose jobs are at stake."

The linked op-ed is in the NYT, where the comments seem to be running against De Blasio.

68 comments:

cubanbob said...

It's NYC. For sure da Mayor has some campaign contributors who have better uses for the land the horses are stabled on.

Kevin said...


De Blasio doesn't give a s**t what anyone else thinks. He's a committed socialist/communist. He has controls of the levers of power. He KNOWS what is "right", and he's going to do it. No matter how many people oppose him. No matter how many people it hurts.

Shut up and take the Commie medicine you voted for, proles.

darrenoia said...

Why don't we compromise? Keep the horse and carriage rides, but DeBlasio can ban the horses from drinking large sodas, so that he can scratch his left-wing behavior engineering itch.

tim maguire said...

Sorry Liam and the drivers, Bill's election was expensive and debts need to be paid.

fivewheels said...

I'm probably with Qui-Gon on the merits, but it's not really a class issue in the sense of the difference between the sides turning on class differences.

It's more of an incidental fact that the particular brand of busybody liberal who loves to poke his or her head into businesses they know very little about and make judgments based on current fashions dictated to them by moral dilettantes ... well, those people are mostly of a type. And that type is decidedly not working class.

But that doesn't make this a class issue per se. Except that many issues are the uninformed scolding class against the rest of us.

Helenhightops said...

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/leave-horses-drivers-article-1.1562736

This op-ed by clergy absolutely nails it.

rhhardin said...

I thought it had been established that a developer donor to De Blasio's campaign wanted the land that the stables are on.

Helenhightops said...

I think it is a class issue; one side doesn't value manual labor, and feels pity and even contempt for those who perform it.

You're supposed to work out with your body, not actually do work.

Beth said...

Jon Katz has a wonderful blog as a writer with a farm in upstate NY. He's written extensively, and more importantly, thoughtfully on the house carriage issue in NYC. This is the latest post, but if you go back there are many others. http://www.bedlamfarm.com/2014/04/15/common-sense-and-carriage-horses-the-sun-never-shined-on-a-greater-cause/

rehajm said...

meet the working men and women whose jobs are at stake.

The jobs are so precious because liberals make bad policy decisions. Free up job creators and we could debate the carriage issue on it's merits.

Forbes said...

Animal rights activists are far left loonies, and a real estate developer who back Kaiser Wilhelm has his eyes on the stable property. It's the usual busybody social engineering of the Left, despite what Liam Neeson says--though that adds sympathy from those that wouldn't give it a thought, i.e. Irish-Americans who need little to get them motivated to an Irish cause.

Brando said...

The last sort of person DeBlasio cares about is an immigrant with the kulak goals of trying to get rich and live the American dream. Surely these capitalist stooges know nothing of the Marxist dialectic and class struggle! They if anything are class enemies to Comrade DeBlasio!

Hizzoner is between a rock and a hard place. He either tries to do all the idiotic things he promised for the city and watch the economy crumble, or he acts like a pragmatist and angers his coalition of drum circling street occupiers who will be out for blood come 2017. All the afro-ed teenagers in the world couldn't make enough commercials to save his mayorship then.

fivewheels said...

While the issue with the land used by the stables is probably real, I guess my point was that to the extent that people are taking sides on the issue, the sides aren't the interests of the working class against the interests of the moneyed class.

The people who want to free the horsies have no legitimate interest in the issue. They come from outside to indulge their moral vanity. That's my snap judgment, anyway.

AReasonableMan said...

If the horses got a vote they would vote neigh.

I have seen this horses many times and in the summer they have to drag a heavy cart on hot asphalt, surrounded by traffic, noise and pollution with heavy blinders on all the time. It is difficult to imagine that it is not a miserable experience for the horses for the sole purpose of lugging some fat tourists around the park.

SteveBrooklineMA said...

The class card. Well played Mr. Neeson, well played.

RecChief said...

It's not an issue of class, it's an issue of cronyism. One of DeBlasio's pals (and financial supporters) wants the land where the stables are located to develop into another steel and glass monstrosity

David said...

From Wikipedia:

De Blasio received a B.A. from New York University, majoring in metropolitan studies, a program in urban studies with courses such as Politics of Minority Groups and The Working Class Experience

But DeBlasio's father went to Yale and his mother to Smith. In other words De Blasio got his working class experience from courses at NYU and conviviality in Cambridge (where he grew up.)

Neeson's parents were the cook and janitor at a boy's primary school in Ireland.

Who do you suppose has a better feel for the working class?

David said...

"It is difficult to imagine that it is not a miserable experience for the horses for the sole purpose of lugging some fat tourists around the park."

It's difficult for you. But probably not for the horse. What more elevated purpose for the horse would you suggest? Would a different purpose alleviate the misery that you suppose? Or do you just object to the horse doing work? Perhaps you have some contempt for the innate value of a horse being a horse?

Horsist!

Ann Althouse said...

"lugging some fat tourists…"

Well, isn't this the class politics? The real NYrs that live around Central Park have looked down on the horse rides for decades. Only tourists would ride those things.

Ann Althouse said...

I rode one once. Back in the 70s. It was expensive and the horse didn't go very far or very fast, didn't do anything it didn't want to do.

And the close-up view of the horse's ass (pooping) is seared in my memory.

gerry said...

And the close-up view of the horse's ass (pooping) is seared in my memory

Equicoprophobe!

Michael said...

The mayor has backed down, sort of.

This clueless dimwit revolutionary has gotten the message or some of it. 75% of the people of NY want to keep the carriages.

But if you must: Take the horses, kill and eat them. Put the stupid immigrants out of work. But do not expect for one fucking second that people are going to ride around Central Park in faux antique cars. Electric or otherwise.

traditionalguy said...

Aren't Fat Tourists are still important to Manhattan?

jimf said...

Chicago's horse drawn carriages remain and are not targets of liberal ire...

jimf said...

Chicago's horse drawn carriages on Michigan Ave and surrounds remain and are not the target of liberal ire.

fivewheels said...

Here in Chicago, we have horse-drawn carriages. I've never been in one, but the moral message or the optics of exploiting the horse's labor never troubled me overmuch.

We also have bicycle-drawn pedicabs. I have to say, that seems much worse, giving a college kid a couple bucks to rickshaw you around like a big shot. The class difference is even more stark.

But I wouldn't try to put that kid out of a job, either.

Unknown said...

I thought perhaps the thing being handled by the lady in red-picture was a horse flop. Or maybe a hair piece.

AReasonableMan said...

Ann Althouse said...
And the close-up view of the horse's ass (pooping) is seared in my memory.


Good. Some small measure of revenge for the horse.

I like horses. I used to ride when I lived in the country. I don't think Manhattan gridlock is the most favorable environment for the average horse.

johnnymcguirk said...

Chrisine Quinn was a friend to horse drawn carriage industry. PETA and other organizations saturated NYC ads with anti Quinn ads linking her to Bloomberg. Mayor DiBlasio is paying back a campaign debt.

Michael said...

ARM

I have owned a number of Labrador Retrievers I have compelled, winter after winter, to enter icy waters to retrieve ducks which I personally killed. Really really cold water.
These very Labrador Retrievers were made to stand in blazing heat awaiting my signal to retrieve mourning doves which I personally killed. Really really hot days.
Certain animals are bred for certain kinds of work. Thus there is a difference between a hunter, a jumper, and a draft horse; between a Labrador and a Poodle, between a Clumber and an English Pointer.
FYI

Helenhightops said...

>It's difficult for you. But probably not for the horse.>


My family took a ride in Central Park, and the driver told us he had for a while driven a thoroughbred, retired from the track. One day business he had no business, so he just let the young horse have its head. He said that horse went around the park perimeter in thirteen minutes.

David is right; it's not that hard on the horse.

Alex said...

Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be horse carriage drivers.

Biff said...

I happened to walk past the West 38th Street stables on my way to the Javits Convention Center two weeks ago, just as a few of the stable hands were grooming some of the horses on the sidewalk. They were beautiful, robust animals, obviously well cared for, and they did not appear in any way distressed. I've seen far worse looking horses on reputable farms.

It's clearly about the money. It is jarring to come across horses and the relatively small buildings that hold the stables a mere block or so from the Lincoln Tunnel, a major convention center, and Manhattan skyscrapers.

jr565 said...

For the life of me I can't really see he need to ban the carriages. Horses are not hurt by pulling carriages. Is t about horses dignity? They don't have any in that sense. How are they harmed?

mishu said...

I find it fascinating that the ARA types like ARM think animals belong in some nature ghetto never to be seen or heard by humans because, well, humans suck or something.

mishu said...

I find it fascinating that the ARA types like ARM think animals belong in some nature ghetto never to be seen or heard by humans because, well, humans suck or something.

Richard Dolan said...

"Only tourists would ride those things."

No need to be snooty to the hordes of clueless, ill bred, and often boorish tourists with which NYC is blest. Those of us who live here recognize that tourism helps keep NYC going. Where would the theatres, restaurants, hotels, museums, and on and on, be if there weren't so many tourists willing to pay Manhattan's ridiculous prices?

n.n said...

The urban areas already have a structural employment deficit.

Dave Schumann said...

The sad thing, for people who care about economic freedom, is that the immigrants that Neeson refers to -- if they can/do vote at all -- are going to vote Democrat. No matter what.

Out here in California it's amazing to see the Asian population voting straight Democrat. As small-business owners and victims of race quotas (in both cases, to a much greater degree than whites) you'd think they'd support a party more aligned to their interests.

But I guess that's the "What's the Matter With Kansas?" fallacy. Perhaps Asians just care more about voting their minority status the same way other minorities do, and ditto the jobless farriers and carriage drivers, in the same way that the Kansans that Frank disparaged voted their social-conservative beliefs.

The Godfather said...

The horse drawn carriages have been in Central Park FOREVER (they were there when God was a lad -- or at least when I was a kid). That alone is a sufficient reason to keep them. That's how conservatives think. A libertarian would come to the same conclusion, but it would take longer.

tim in vermont said...

I am sure they would be much happier on the inside of a dog food can that pulling fat tourists around the park.

Skeptical Voter said...

"It's Chinatown Jake".

Who knew that DeBlasio and PETA would be worse gangsters than Mulholland and Chandler?

Andy Freeman said...

I wonder what "AReasonableMan" thinks will become of the horses if they lose their jobs?

Horses that don't have jobs get eaten.

AReasonableMan said...

Biff said...
I happened to walk past the West 38th Street stables on my way to the Javits Convention Center two weeks ago, just as a few of the stable hands were grooming some of the horses on the sidewalk. They were beautiful, robust animals, obviously well cared for, and they did not appear in any way distressed.


And I have seen them in the middle of summer in heavy traffic, noise and smog looking pretty miserable. If the horses performed some valuable or irreplaceable function there might be a case for keeping them but the function they perform could just as easily be performed by the tourists own two legs making the horses largely redundant.

Mutaman said...

" I thought it had been established that a developer donor to De Blasio's campaign wanted the land that the stables are on."

It was. The NY Post said so. In the right wing world that counts as "has been established".

n.n said...

Perhaps De Blasio actually intends to increase employment opportunities. PETA has been working feverishly to equate humans, especially women, and animals. And abortion/choice advocates have reduced human lives to a commodity. There is virtually no depths to which they will sink.

David said...

RM sez:

"I don't think Manhattan gridlock is the most favorable environment for the average horse."

You seriously don't get New York, do you?

These are not average horses. These are fuckin' New York horses. They can make it anywhere.

David said...

AReasonableMan said...

And I have seen them in the middle of summer in heavy traffic, noise and smog looking pretty miserable. If the horses performed some valuable or irreplaceable function there might be a case for keeping them but the function they perform could just as easily be performed by the tourists own two legs making the horses largely redundant.


RM!!!

Valuable or irreplaceable? It's damn valuable otherwise the proprietors would not be fighting to keep them. (Your idea of social value is not the only concept of value.)

Just how does a horse look miserable? Remember, they are working, expending physical effort, something they are amazingly good at but nevertheless it is effort. Are they refusing to walk forward? Disobeying the driver? Nipping at the fat tourists? Do they whisper to you that they are miserable? (Hint: they are faking. These are New York horses, after all.)

And making the fat tourists walk? Dear God, man, have you no mercy? The way you describe them, they can barely waddle over to the carriage. That is so cruel.

I am fascinated by persons' concepts of value. Essentially you are saying that a nostalgic tradition, performed by well cared for animals bred for the activity, which brings pleasure to many and profit to some, is so lacking in value that it should eliminated. That value being your concept of social value.

You are entitled to your conclusion. I think it is largely an aesthetic judgment, certainly one requiring a fine appreciation of both human pleasure and equine misery. I congratulate you on your high skill, at the same time wishing that it is never coupled with power of any consequence.

Mike said...

I guess my question is, what's the substantive difference between carriage horses and police horses? Same animal, same weather conditions, but one pulls a burden and the other carries one. Is there a comparable movement to outlaw cops on horseback?

Mutaman said...

Who do you suppose has a better feel for the working class?"

The Bush's? Mitt Romney?

glenn said...

Well there is this one thing here. The people of NYC voted overwhelmingly for this guy. Being that they are a lot smarter than the rest of us (just ask them) maybe DeBlowhard is right.

khesanh0802 said...

The horses will end up in France as steaks and roasts. They will not be put out to pasture in central park. Something else to think about

Biff said...

AReasonableMan said..."And I have seen them in the middle of summer in heavy traffic, noise and smog looking pretty miserable. If the horses performed some valuable or irreplaceable function there might be a case for keeping them but the function they perform could just as easily be performed by the tourists own two legs making the horses largely redundant."

My guess is that in the middle of summer, in heavy traffic, noise, and smog, not only the horses, but you and most of the people around you also looked pretty miserable. Horses stabled in upstate New York countryside can look pretty miserable in the summer heat, too.

AReasonableMan said...

Mike said...
I guess my question is, what's the substantive difference between carriage horses and police horses? Same animal, same weather conditions, but one pulls a burden and the other carries one. Is there a comparable movement to outlaw cops on horseback?


The police horses are apparently very useful for crowd control. Whatever else you can say about Manhattan it doesn't lack for crowds.

David said...

Mutaman said...
Who do you suppose has a better feel for the working class?"

The Bush's? Mitt Romney?


Can we include John Kerry and Barack Obama before we vote?

(Actually, I go with Romney, who has performed quite a bit of true physical labor in his life in various charitable activities.)

David said...

No differentiation between legal and illegal immigrants?

Dantes said...

But...it's for the children...no, the horses...

De Mayor is looking to line his pockets, ala Harry Reid, with some kickback. He could care less about horses.

Fen said...

I also thought it had been established that a developer donor to De Blasio's campaign wanted the land that the stables are on.

nemesis443 said...

"And the close-up view of the horse's ass (pooping) is seared in my memory."

Kind of like watching politicians at work, huh?

Mike said...

The police horses are apparently very useful for crowd control. Whatever else you can say about Manhattan it doesn't lack for crowds.

Presumably the working conditions are essentially the same though, so if working a carriage horse in Manhattan is tantamount to animal cruelty, I would think the same would go for police horses. I guess the utility of crowd control trumps the welfare of the animal in a way that the aesthetic experience of a carriage ride does not.

William said...

Well, three cheers for Liam Neeson. This is such an offbeat cause for an actor to be championing. Not only is it worthy, but it is actually of some use to a working man.......I have trudged around Manhattan in a suit and tie on a humid summer day. Not only that, I had to go down into the subways on such a day. You never see horses sweltering on the subway platform. I didn't get to walk around naked in Central Park like these horses. It seems to me that these horses had a much better deal than me. PETA can kiss my ass.

cubanbob said...

ARM if the horses were given a choice between hauling a fat tourist like CBob or the glue factory, whada you think? It's a shame Tavern on the Green is no more. I enjoyed immensely taking my daughters on a horse drawn cab ride to the Tavern from our hotel and then after lunch back by horse drawn cab.

stlcdr said...

There's a similar issue in Charleston, SC. It gets a lot hotter than NY. But it comes down to animal management. Horses are working animals - it doesn't mean they aren't cared for; just the opposite - they must be managed well because tourism is where the money's at (sic).

There's a lot of minority and unique industries surrounding horse care, tack, and so on. By removing working horses it obligates the need for such industries - the industries that liberals tend to love ('hey, why can't I be a blacksmith and earn a decent wage?').

Now, if they just removed the cars from where the horses roam, wouldn't we all be happy...?

Brando said...

I don't remember ever riding one, but obviously many people do all the time or the business wouldn't exist. And one thing we don't need to be doing right now is eliminating businesses that provide jobs and services and create tax revenue.

That said, if the city decides the costs imposed by the businesses on the city (such as blockage of traffic, environmental hazard, or actual (not perceived) animal cruelty) are great enough, it may make sense to regulate or ban the business.

Problem is, there's no sense here that DeBlasio made such a determination or even thought about it. The suddenness and lack of debate on this issue seem to imply that this is being hurried through to please some donor or constituency or punish some group that ran afoul of him.

Good for Neeson for speaking up for the people who would lose their livelihoods over this. NYC seems increasingly like a place for the landed gentry and super-rich with little use for those who aspire to more than they have.

RecChief said...

Maybe he should see it not as a class issue, but for what it is, that people in power do things for their own enrichment and the enrichment of their supporters. But I guess that would be too close to a Tea Party argument, and if Liam wants to maintain his standing amongst the cool kids of Hollywood and NYC, he can't voice that, can he?

Strelnikov said...

As between DeBlasio and Neeson, it's a shame someone has to win that one.

Franklin said...

First De Blasio needs to repay the unions and special interests that got him elected. Ban carriage horses, and then RETROACTIVE RAISES for TWU workers. 8 years worth.

We are going to have a BIGTIME budget hole in New York City soon. Only hope we have is that we blow it big enough and fast enough that the Democrats are still in power and bail out NYC.

Joe said...

Seems that liberals are always "deeply offended" by craftsmen making good money doing things for rich people who aren't themselves. (Conservatives tend to limit themselves to being offended by prostitutes.)