Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times published one of the most harrowing stories of American authoritarianism that I've read in quite a while. A young girl in Northern California was given a pet goat by her parents as part of a local program through the Shasta County District Fair where young children learn to care for farm animals. She named him Cedar. From the beginning, the plan had always been for the goat to ultimately be returned to the county fair for slaughter — ya know, to teach those rascally young'ns how much work actually goes into the livestock they take for granted as food.
But over the course of care, this 9-year-old girl had grown particularly attached to Cedar the Goat. She'd lost three grandparents over the year, and Cedar had become her constant companion. Even as her parents recognized that, yes, they had entered into an arrangement to turn Cedar over for slaughter, they simply couldn't bear to put their child through that again. They embarked on a social media campaign, in hopes of getting the county officials to change their mind and let them keep Cedar. They offered to pay the county whatever money they were owed for whatever costs were occurred by the loss of the potential livestock meat (roughly $1000).
But a county official replied, "Making an exception for you will only teach [our] youth that they do not have to abide by the rules. Also, in this era of social media this has been a negative experience for the fairgrounds as this has been all over Facebook and Instagram." If the goat was not returned immediately, the officials told the parents, they would get law enforcement involved.
And so they did. From The Los Angeles Times:
Echoing language used when law enforcement search a home for drugs, the warrant allowed deputies to "utilize breaching equipment to force open doorway(s), entry doors, exit doors, and locked containers" and to search all rooms, garages and "storage rooms, and outbuildings of any kind large enough to accommodate a small goat."
Letters, text messages, a search warrant and other court documents reviewed by The Times show how a dispute over a 9-year-old girl's pet goat quickly escalated, and that Shasta District Fair officials resorted to using police resources after noting that their handling of the dispute over Cedar had become "a negative experience for the fairgrounds as this has been all over Facebook and Instagram."
"It was never about money," said Vanessa Shakib, an attorney for Advancing Law for Animals who represents Long. "County officials were clear that they wanted to teach this little girl a lesson."
Shasta District Fair and county officials did not respond to requests for comment.
They pulled a fucking SWAT drug raid to murder a goat just to punish a little girl.
The cruelty is the god damn point.
A 9-year-old girl didn't want her goat slaughtered. California fair officials sent deputies after it [Salvador Hernandez / The Los Angeles Times]