Thursday, May 8, 2014

Should we ban the horse-carriages?‏

Should we ban horse-drawn carriages in NYC?

It's an issue that's been roiling the city for weeks. You would think that in these tough economic times that a "boutique" issue like this wouldn't be so important. But big money and a facile media has suddenly made it a big issue.

The reason is simple: Mayor De Blasio supports the ban. He wants to replace the horse-drawn carriages in and around Central Park with pseudo-vintage cars. That means tourists and romancing couples, instead of clopping around the park, would put-put instead.  Many animal rights groups, including PETA, have been pushing for the ban for years. Last year, during the Mayor's race, they raised and spent a lot of money bashing candidates who didn't support the ban and helped De Blasio get elected.

Meanwhile, since he took office, supporters of the carriages have been calling on De Blasio to halt his plans and keep the carriages going. The New York Daily News has been running editorials and petitions to stop the ban. Movie star Liam Neeson has been on a crusade to retain them. Many New Yorkers are wailing that this ban would be one more loss to the culture of our city.

It's a real battle. For the mayor, it's a real political pickle.

And, for once, I don't know what to think.

I have no idea if we should ban the carriages. I'm almost 40 years old and this issue has been debated ever since I was a kid. I remember seeing ads on buses with ugly pictures of dead horses, lying on the cold hard city street, leaking blood -- with a big picture of then-Mayor Ed Koch being called upon to ban the carriages. Personally, I've never really wanted to take a carriage ride. When I've walked past them on Central Park South, I've always thought it was a little cruel that these beautiful animals were being harnessed and kept there, being scared by the cars passing on the streets. Not to mention the smell - oy vey! Here you are, walking on one of the most beautiful stretches of the city, next to some of the most expensive real estate in the world, and you gotta smell horse doody. It's kinda gross.

And yet ... they're history. They're an intrinsic part of the city's cultural life. They're also a real money maker for the city, with the aforementioned tourists and amorous couples paying lots of dough for the privilege of living in the 19th century for a few minutes. And there's the jobs -- not just the carriages "drivers" or whatever they're called, but also the stable hands and hoof makers, etc. who support them. I'm sorry, but really, who wants to ride around Central Park in silly old vintage car? Horses have magic. Cars have none.

I've noticed that when the debate on any issue gets really inflamed -- like abortion, immigration, or horse draw carriages -- it's because both sides are right. So just because you take one side vs. the other

What do you think? Should we ban the carriages?

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