When is an advocate not really an advocate? Or perhaps the better question, when we are discussing an advocate (I’m talking to you media), shouldn’t we at least identify for whom the advocacy is aimed?
A recent Fox Harrisburg article on the new “safety” regs rolled out by PA officials in January is entitled: “Advocates continue to fight against thoroughbred racehorse abuse and mistreatment in Pa.” But the piece, in fact, quotes only one “advocate,” prominent PA vet Bryan Langlois. The good vet was also featured in a May 4 “Letter to the Editor” at the Thoroughbred Daily News, saying things like: “The changes being announced, implemented, and backed up with action are extremely pleasing to see. … PA is finally taking the right steps to bring integrity and safety back to the sport.”
To the unsuspecting eye, all this sounds fine, even admirable. Don’t we want more vets, especially those outside the industry (Dr. Langlois is not employed in racing), speaking out on behalf of the horses? Well, in truth, Langlois is an unabashed horseracing fan. Yes, fan – as in someone who can’t imagine a world without it, as in someone who will do and say anything to reverse the industry’s recent public slide. I know this because I’ve had dealings with him.
Look, as I’ve said about “reformist” racing writers (Joe Drape, Ray Paulick, et al.), people like Bryan Langlois, with their impressive credentials, are, in many ways, our greatest enemies – wolves in sheep’s clothing. Undeniably intelligent and articulate, their opinions and ideas can, at least to the lay public, be utterly persuasive – you know, all Racing needs is a good housecleaning, a return to its roots, the “Horseracing Integrity Act.” But you see, in Dr. Langlois’ worldview, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with breeding and exploiting horses for gambling. By touting PA’s specious measures (see the fraud that is NYRA’s “reforms”: here and here), Langlois is helping the horseracing industry, thereby condemning countless more horses to lives of abject suffering and, more often than not (track/stall/slaughter), painful, premature death. In short, and in answer to the question at the top, the Bryan Langloises of the world are advocates for horseracing – not horses. And to that I say, for shame.