COMMENTARY | Folks may fight about the morality of homosexuality, but can anyone deny the dangers of gay hate crimes? Homophobic hatred seems to have destroyed several Western Pleasure show horses in an Ohio stable on Easter night.
As a horse lover and a human, I'm irate. This kind of crime sets me ablaze.
What happened in Ohio?
Brent Whitehouse's barn went up in flames on April 22, killing eight registered American Quarter Horses. The equine losses included a pregnant mare and a one-week-old colt. A barn cat was also killed. Firefighters found anti-gay epithets painted on the remnants of the razed building and called the conflagration as an anti-gay hate crime.
Whitehouse, a long-time resident of McConnelsville, Ohio, and a respected member of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), saw a red glow outside his home late Sunday night as he went to walk his Australian shepherd dog. The Bowling Green State University business marketing graduate, who runs an insurance agency and the on-site Whispering Pines Performance Horses stable, had stayed up to tend to the mare due to foal anytime.
Frantic, Whitehouse tried to enter the burning barn. "I could hear the horses kicking," he told local reporters.
The barn doors were jammed, and flames shot through the roof. The entire structure flared in minutes, even burning a tractor parked inside.
Fire marshals are investigating the blaze, which resulted in a total loss of the barn and implements inside. Whitehouse's barn was insured, but the personal losses are immeasurable.
Everybody loses in hate crimes, even animals.
Whitehouse's mother, Mary Whitehouse, who also lives on the property, was devastated by the tragedy and the cruel killing of the stabled horses. She said to the Equine Chronicle: "Brent says that if someone wanted to get at him ... why didn't they just turn the horses loose before setting the barn on fire?"
The Blue Ribbon Arson Committee of the Ohio FAIR Plan Underwriting Association is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of those responsible for the arson. The crime has not been linked to any particular ideological, religious or otherwise organized outfit.
What sort of people would spray-paint messages like "F--s are freaks" and "Burn in hell" on the side of a barn, then step inside past several peaceful and beautiful hay-munching animals to torch the place? Civilization has surely slipped when animals are carelessly slaughtered by misguided zealots who dare not debate their own convictions by mature means.
Linda Ann Nickerson brings decades of experience and a globally-minded Midwestern perspective to a host of topics, balancing human interest with history, hard facts and often humor.
- barn doors
- American Quarter Horses
- Western Pleasure
- gay hate crimes
- in flames