I just finished scanning the major televison news stations and news sites on the Internet, and without a doubt the biggest news story today is the death by euthanization of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. The horse fractured three bones in and around the ankle of his right hind leg, and lingering infections forced owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson to make the decision to put the animal out of its misery.
As an animal lover, I agree that it is sad to watch a poor creature suffer, and I feel sorry for the owners. I know how difficult it was for me when I had to say goodbye to my faithful Labrador retriever Hershey. We become attached to our animal friends, and their deaths can hit us as hard as our human companions.
But is this story really deserving of the sort of media frenzy we might expect with the death of, say, Mother Theresa? Every news network broke in with a report on this dead horse.
Screen capture of the "breaking news" on CNN
The blogosphere is filled with gushing comments like these from Taylor Marsh: "What a glorious animal. What a fighter. What a winner."
What a load of hooey. Barbaro was a horse bred to run races and make money for its owners. Nothing more, nothing less.
Maybe it's the cynical mood I am in today, but I tend to think that this story should be more like a quick obituary notice. Sure, Barbaro was a prize-winning thoroughbred, but shouldn't a bigger news story be - oh, I dunno - the fighting near the holy city of Najaf that killed hundreds of suspected insurgents?
The best words I have seen written on the topic of Barbaro came from another blogger, Brian at Sports Frog:
Our long national nightmare is over -- Barbaro is no more. Housewives all over America are shedding a tear at the demise of the bravest horse to ever live. Somewhere in heaven, Jesus is riding Barbaro and they're eating carrots together and laughing at Saddam Hussein in hell.After I get done laughing at Brian's comments, someone please shoot me. My head hurts from all this Barbaro blathering.
Addendum: Be sure to check out Subcomandante Bob's "Barbaro Trifecta" of stories addressing the frenzy over the dead horse: here, here, and here.