These are actual comments from actual 5280.com readers:
It make’s you wonder no matter what there is alway’s (sic) an asshole to be found. I truly hope Jason does not own any animal’s or have any childrenâ€¦We all make choice’s (sic) in life if we want children or pet’s or neither. I hope Jason chose the latter.
Here’s hoping if you ever break a leg being FORCED to run, someone will take you out and shoot you. Are you the same Jason that lives on Elm Street?
I mostly write about politics here at 5280, but sometimes I venture out into other topics. I get my share of angry comments for some of the things I write, but I would have expected most of that anger to be directed at things I wrote about politics.
Boy, was I wrong.
In late May, I wrote about a “Duck Cam” that appeared on the Web site of 9News, and I noted a story from when I briefly worked in television news about how people are much more interested in stories about injured animals than they are in tales of injured or dead human beings. Nothing riles people up more than stories about injured or abused animals, and a post I wrote two months later really drove that point home.
In late July I wrote a post about how I was fed up with updates about the horse Barbaro, which broke its leg running in the Preakness horse race in May. I went out of my way to say that I hoped Barbaro survived his nasty broken leg:
Let me say this first: I sincerely hope that Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby-winning horse, recovers from the horrific leg injury he suffered at the Preakness race two months ago. I really, honestly, truly do hope that Barbaro makes a full recovery and avoids that great glue factory in the sky.
On more than one occasion I noted my desire to see that Barbaro had a full and speedy recovery- because I knew that many readers would gloss right over that point â€“ but I was also annoyed at how often I saw updates on Barbaro’s condition on the news, on ESPN and in the newspapers. Most of the time, there was no news. Headlines would read things like, “Barbaro feeling better!” That’s nice, I said, but it’s not news. We don’t get that kind of coverage when a famous statesman or politician gets sick.
Anyway, shortly after I posted about Barbaro, someone posted a comment at the Web site TimWooleyRacing.com and urged readers to comment on my post and yell at me through their keyboards. Many did – there were 21 comments to this post, which by my unofficial count makes it one of the top three most-commented upon posts I have ever written at 5280.com. Here’s a sampling:
Apparently Barbaro has a new nickname: Bobby. That’s what Margie Urban says, anyway:
Opponents of â€˜Bobby’ updates need to look at horseracing closely to see what is driving most of us to root for â€˜Bobby’. To me, he stands for all the racers that went before, and all the racers yet to come.
As I am anti horseracing, and a champion for the animal, I will root for Bobby. I want to see updates on his condition, even twice a day. I want him to WIN and live, despite what we humans have asked of him and will continue to ask of him.
Maybe today, you should reach down and hug an animal and really make the CONNECTION. Then maybe you will understand a little better why we want Barbaro to survive, and that every day he does survive is a real triumph for this very intelligent horse. His medical treatments WOULD NOT WORK without his own spirit and cooperation. God bless you, Bobby!
Okay, again, for the umpteenth timeâ€¦I REALLY, TRULY HOPE BARBARO RECOVERS!!! I have said that a dozen times. The point of the post, however, was to say that I really don’t understand the need to bombard me with Barbaro updates through the press, especially when there is nothing to report. Barbaro feeling a little better is not news, no matter how you slice it.
But, whatever. Apparently I hate Barbaro and root hard for his speedy demise. Nevermind what I actually wrote.
PREACH IT DARLA
If you don’t care to don’t read the updates, I want to hear about a guy with more courage, heart, and patience than any person I know. He’s a hero.
This comment I saw a lot on the horseracing Web site, and I’ve got to tell you it is one that I really don’t understand. I feel for Barbaro, and I hope he recovers, but I don’t understand why he is a hero.
Is it because he broke his leg? I don’t see the logic here. If an animal breaks its legâ€¦it is a hero. Why? Lots of animals break their legs. Are they all heroes? I broke my collarbone once. Am I a hero?
Is it because, even though he suffered a serious injury, Barbaro “doesn’t complain about his circumstances?” That doesn’t make him a hero. Barbaro doesn’t complain because he is a horse. He can’t speak. That doesn’t make him a hero â€“ it makes him a horse.
If you are a mute, does that make you a hero? Or do you have to be a mute and then break your leg?
Take this comment from Marie:
There are too many spoiled over paid “human” athletes in this country. Finally we have one that all he cares about is eating, healing, getting massages and resting. He is not in it for the money, NOR are his owners the Jacksons. IF they were, they would have put him down and collected MILLIONS.
You are absolutely right, Marie. Barbaro is not in it for the money.
HE IS A HORSE!!!
Seriously, everyone does know that we are talking about a horse, right?
My favorite part of that comment is this: Finally we have [an athlete] that all he cares about is eating, healing, getting massages and resting. Actually, I think we have a lot of athletes like that. I’m not sure what is admirable about caring only about eating and resting, but I’ll bet I can find a few people who share those traits right outside my door.
Let’s go back to Margaret, who is not a first-time caller:
This horse doesn’t do drugs. He doesn’t go on strike because of whatever his particular issue is that day. He doesn’t whine, he doesn’t fight with colleagues. He doesn’t punch out fans or the refs.
Barbaro is an example of what a professional athlete should be.
Barbaro doesn’t do drugsâ€¦because he’s a horse. Barbaro doesn’t go on strikeâ€¦because he’s a horse. Barbaro doesn’t whineâ€¦because he can’t speak. Barbaro doesn’t punch out fansâ€¦because he doesn’t have opposable thumbs. Or arms.
I like Barbaro. But Barbaro isn’t all of these things because he is noble. He is all these things because he is a horse. If he could talk and walk, I’ll bet he’d bitch loudly about breaking his leg in a race that he doesn’t even get paid for. I’ll bet he would punch out some fans. If he could talk, he’d probably write an autobiography and then later claim he was misquoted when it hits the best-seller list.
Michael C. Kimball writes something interesting:
Truly what do horse’s have to look forward to but LOVE and ATTENTION as they mainly are for the people rather it be racing, riding or working and they should be respected as much as any other animal or person.
Let me get this straight â€“ the whole purpose of an animal is for people to enjoy? I’m confused.
This, from Margie in NM:
Come outside of yourself. There are more than just YOU in the world.
I am also an anti me me me me me person!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I don’t know what this means. Is Margie an anti-ME person, as in, anti-Jason? Or anti-me, as in, anti-Margie? I’m confused.
What’s really weird is to read the comments over at TimWooleyRacing.com about this whole thing. There are people over there who passionately argue that a sick horse is far more worthy of our thoughts and prayers than a sick statesman. Seriously. Horses: good. People: bad.
After reading some of the comments I received on this post, you can probably see why I was particularly reluctant to respond to one of them:
HEY JASON – go to – timwooleyracing.com and then click on â€˜Barbaro updates’, and blog those hundreds of people about your Barbaro feelings.Oh, and while you’re at it, give them your phone number and address, if you dare.
I think I’ll pass, although if I would escape from those confrontations with only a broken legâ€¦I’d be a hero.