Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Leave Country Carrie

The 2006 National High School Rodeo Finals just concluded in Springfield, IL and I was fortunate enough to attend for a day and a half. From across the entire country came 1566 young Rural Americans to compete in all the typical rodeo events plus cutting. Anyone who says our nation’s kids are misguided or nothing but trouble makers should take the time to attend one of these events. I heard frequently while I was there, “these kids don’t get into trouble.” They truly are the shining examples of everything good about raising kids in Rural America.

With that said, there are people who have made it their life’s mission to end the sport of rodeo. Steve Hindi, an Illinois native, is one of those individuals. I have followed his work for quite some time and was not surprised to see him and his daughter sitting in the front row filming every single animal that entered the ring for 13 rodeo performances. When I spotted him I made my way over and sat by him for over an hour. He didn’t want to visit. He did not want to be distracted from witnessing every single animal that might generate an image that he could use to portray rodeo in a negative light. He was cordial, though, as he did offer to have lunch with me the next day. He simply didn’t want me to interefere with his work on that day.

Yes, to him it is work. Some have said that he needs more to do but you need to understand that he makes his living from 3 seconds of video footage, placed out of context, that will generate negative publicity forever. The sadly ironic thing is I that could sit at any soccer game with a camera and capture equally excrutiating photos of kids in pain from a soccer game but it wouldn’t cause near as much of an uproar. Many in attendance seemed to be worried about what he might do to disrupt the rodeo, but that is not his mission. He doesn’t want to temporarily disrupt the rodeo. He honestly believes that his work will permanently end all rodeos, which is a much loftier goal.

He would much rather take any negative images he might capture and utilize the internet and his website to slowly generate public discontent for rodeo. Secondly, he will take a few pictures and convey to the sponsors of rodeo that they are supporting animal cruelty. Some sponsorers will understand his mission, understand that photos can be taken out of context in order to incorrectly generate negative immpressions but others will cave in to his methods of persuasion. That is cause for all of us to get much more vigilant in explaining even the proper care of animals in an event such as rodeo.

Hindi also claims credit for getting Carrie Underwood to cancel her performance at the 2006 Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo. Carrie Underwood does not represent the country lifestyle she wants us to buy into and why we continue to support her and her music is beyond me. Underwood is a self-proclaimed vegetarian and stopped consuming beef when she was 13. Recently she was featured on a segment of PBS Kids. When asked how a girl who grew up on a farm became a vegetarian, she responded:

I quit eating beef when I was about thirteen. I kind of phased everything out, so it took a few years actually. I do it because I really love animals and it just makes me sad. Like, I don’t like to watch commercials where they have meat. It weirds me out. But it’s not something I like to preach to anyone.

That last statement could not be farther from the truth. In every interview and every online biograghy of Carrie Underwood, she shares the fact that she is a long-time vegetarian. During the American Idol competition, she wore a t-shirt sporting an oversized “V” for vegetarian. Now you can buy her t-shirts online for $20. She told Readers Digest that as a young girl she decided she would rather sing to cows than eat them. In 2005, PETA named her the “World’s Sexiest Vegetarian.” She obviously thought that was great honor.

Eating meat weirds her out! She cancels performances at a rodeo because of cruelty to animals but she accepts this PETA award even though PETA employees are charged with over 50 felonies for improperly killing dogs and cats that were given to them to find homes for. In fact from 1998 through 2005, PETA killed over 14, 400 companion animals that were donated to them. That is in excess of 5 animals per day and Carrie Underwood thinks rodeo is cruel?

The bottom line is pretty straightforward. We do proudly live in America where both Carrie Underwood and I have the right to choose our own lifestyle. I don’t wear or sell shirts that say, “M is for meat eating,” which to me proves that she is, indeed, is preaching to us about how we should lead our lives. It is high time those of us who make our living producing the high quality essentials of life that she is campaigning against stand up and tell Carrie Underwood that she does not represent the country lifestyle. I suggest we begin by protesting her music and her live performances and change the radio station any time her songs come on the air. By saying nothing for far too long we are endorsing her preaching and I, for one, will stand for it no longer. In fact I have already ordered my t-shirts and will start selling them they say “L” is for Leave Country Carrie.

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