By: Lesley Messer
It seemed like just another outlandish, one-day, local story at the time: A man in the state of Washington dies after having sex with a horse. The clever headlines, involving stallions or “horsing around,” practically wrote themselves.
But then the story went global last month after E&P Online covered it from the angle of how one reporter managed to get certain unpleasant details into her paper, such as the fact that the farm where this happened had become known on the Internet as a ?destination site? for people who want to have sex with critters. The E&P article was widely linked. Next thing we knew, videos of the fatal horse-on-man sex act were circulating on the Web.
Now there’s a legislative and journalistic twist. Washington state Senator Pam Roach (R-Auburn) is introducing a bill to outlaw bestiality in the state. And a Seattle columnist has attacked her move, declaring that animals often enjoy the ?human touch.?
?We’re closing the loophole in our state law,? Roach explained, adding that she wants to see bestiality become a Class C felony, punishable by five years in jail. Following a conviction, guilty individuals would also be prohibited from being around or owning animals. These individuals would also undergo counseling.
Currently, about half of the states outlaw bestiality and six consider it a felonious act.
“The incident that happened in King County involves hundreds of [hours of video] found with many participants and no law was broken. It’s animal cruelty,” Roach told E&P. The incident took place a little over a month ago when an unnamed Seattle man died of internal bleeding after having sex with a horse. Police were able to trace the man back to a rural farm near Enumclaw, Wash. In her final draft of the bill, finished Aug. 23, Roach included clauses that make knowingly observing an act of bestiality, documenting of acts of bestiality, and trafficking in photos or videos showing such acts, felonies too.
However, not everyone has backed Roach. Robert L. Jamieson Jr., a columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, wrote last month that “unless the innocent talks like Mr. Ed or Roach is a horse whisperer, how can she know the animal was harmed?”
He added later, “Moralists will say that since it is impossible for animals to give consent, they should not be taken advantage of sexually. But it’s not as if animals consent to being tied to leashes, caged in zoos, pricked by research needles or fattened up before being slaughtered for hamburger, either. People assume animals don’t mind being treated in such potentially cruel ways just as some people assume animals don’t get any sensual joy from human touch — a debatable point if one has ever watched a dog hump a human leg with pleasure.”
Jamieson’s last point was that outlawing bestiality should not be a high priority, as there are more pressing issues and because a new law would be impossible to enforce.
On Aug. 9, he wrote another column, this time going after Roach personally. “Roach says I am wrong to say she is wasting legislative time and energy. I shouldn’t be making light of her push to make sex with animals a Class C felony. More than two dozen states have legislation that makes sexual congress with animals a crime,” he wrote. ?Roach says a bestiality law could save horses, cows, and sheep that suffer in silence behind closed barn doors. Call me a cynic. What the senator is doing seems more about pleasing animal-loving voters, of which there are many.
“But if something truly heinous is being done to animals, there are already animal-cruelty laws on the books. We don’t need a toothless bestiality law spawned by knee-jerk lawmaking and moral hysteria.”
Jamieson was unavailable for comment. But on Aug. 10, his paper released an official opinion on the matter, calling it a “no-brainer.” The editorial declared: “If state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, wants to bring about a law protecting animals from rape, we say: Go for it, Pam. For once, we’re with you.”