Roy Exum: Vote Down The AgGag Bill


The Chattanoogan, Roy Exum, April 8, 2013

Roy Exum, award-winning columnist

Roy Exum, award-winning columnist

When Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill last year that would make soring a Tennessee Walking Horse a Class E felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, it seemed like Tennessee was finally trying to do something about being the only tribe of people in the world who intentionally harm their native animals in order to collect a blue ribbon.

Because there is a huge loophole – anyone who is trying to “train” a horse is exempted – the slimy Big Lick crowd of the walking horse industry can and will do as they have done for the last fifty years. Tomorrow the “Big Lick”  will try to add insult to injury, if you will pardon the pun, when the state legislature is expected to pass an atrocious bill that – get this – would make the those who take covert pictures and videos of animals being abused the criminals instead of the heroes.

Andy Holt, a farmer from Dresden, Tenn., calls people like those who took the world-famous video of trainer Jackie McConnell savagely beating and torturing horses last year as “vigilantes.” The bill he has pushed through the Agriculture Committee demanded at anyone who takes pictures and/or videos must surrender them to authorities within 24 hours or be charged with a misdemeanor.

Anybody who has ever watched CSI or any crime TV knows full and well such a bill is Godsend to a thug. In this day of criminal investigation, the bill is clearly and cleverly designed to protect a villain who drives a nail in a horse’s pastern so the animal will pick its hooves up higher. While it is no secret Holt is in bed with the “Big Lick” crowd, what is puzzling is that fellow committee member Richard Floyd (R-Chattanooga) forwarded the bill, as did Chattanooga’s Todd Gardenhire, now in the state Senate.

Newspapers and news announcers across the state have demonized the senseless bill. “It’s a very bad bill,” said Frank Gibson, the public policy director of the Tenn. Press Association. “It in effect will repeal a section of the Tennessee Reporter’s Shield Law that has been on the books since 1973. Under this law a reporter working on a story that takes longer than a day, as most stories do, would be guilty of a crime.”

When the famed video of the sadistic McConnell was made in 2011, officials of the Humane Society of the United States turned it over authorities long before it riveted the nation’s attention to the rampant abuse spawned by a perverse crowd in Shelbyville, Tenn. Federal prosecutors in Chattanooga soon became the first to successfully prosecute the men who have violated the federal Horse Protection Act in a wanton manner despite the fact the law has been in effect since 1970. (McConnell was fined $75,000 and placed on three years of probation.)

Worse, there are still no federal laws against horse abuse with teeth; a Federal judge was able to label McConnell a felon but he has yet to spend one night in jail. McConnell has an extensive record of horse soring and abuse, dating back some 30 years but will not go to trial for his 2011 video antics until July on this year. No wonder Rep. Andy Holt – and horse sadists – want a 24-hour window with their AgGag bill.

CONTINUED – – – Read more at the

AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Debbie Tracy

    I should think that this bill is so transparent that no one would vote this in would be saying yeah go ahead it’s fine to be cruel to any animal oh my goodness how could anyone vote that in, really???

    April 8, 2013
  • Leilani Clark

    If they have nothing to hide……..

    April 8, 2013
  • Margaret

    Is there some way to nail shoes onto these fools who promote these AG-GAG bills? 12 blocks nailed onto the hooves are a sure bet to ripping the hoof off. And no it doesn’t take a person with reasonable horse knowledge to know this.

    Heel spurs in humans arent nearly the same. But I had one in each foot last summer. I can’t even begin to describe the pain I was in. So yes, I have some idea of what the horse endures.

    All you “BIG LICKERS” out there–this is a truly disgusting practice you deal in.

    April 8, 2013

    How can I do something???? I have spoken against this for at least 35 years.. What the Hell is wrong with these people and this state???

    April 8, 2013
  • Nancy

    Im really tired but didn’t this ok wait i’ll stop but of course i will vote it down the bottum line is there is no bottum line for what i will do to an abuser

    April 8, 2013
  • Ziggy Pope

    Bravo!!! Well said!

    April 9, 2013
  • Daryl

    What is wrong are these jerks, who go free, and hurt again and again….our elected men, are pushing these bills through too, and they are winning not the animals…so sad.

    April 10, 2013
  • patricia

    Cruelty in any form for appearance or performance needs to be abolished. I am truly appalled that our country condones this.

    August 22, 2013