Goat-rope meaning changes as time goes on

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A goat-rope, according to sources on the Internet, started out being a rope used to tie a goat to a fence post. As time went by the goat would chew the rope to such a degree that the goat-keeper would have to tie a knot to strengthen the rope.

As the number of knots increased, so did the goat-keeper’s imagination. Soon, the story was that the knots on the rope represented adventures the goat experienced while trying to escape

Then later, a rope with so many knots came to be known as a goat’s rope. The knots seemingly represented a series of miscues experienced by the goat-keeper who had to track down the goat.

During the days and nights in 1973 and 1974 of the Watergate adventure involving Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, reporters with The Washington Post, you might say that a “goat’s rope” led to a series of miscues that eventually led to the President’s resignation.

That seems like such a long time ago.

I had never heard of a goat’s rope until last week when someone mentioned it in light of the purhcase of The Washington Post.

Time passes, things change.

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I read in The New York Times last week about conflicts involving Native Americans, conservationists, entrepreneurs and about 75,000 horses, either wild or feral:

“It seemed at first like a logical alliance for bold face names in the interconnected worlds of Hollywood and politics. Bill Richardson, a former governor of New Mexico, and the actor Robert Redford. a staunch conservationist, joined animal rights groups, in a federal lawsuit to block the revival of horse slaughter in the United States, proclaiming that they were ‘standing with Native American leaders.’ to whom horse slaughter ‘consitutes a violation of tribal cultural values.”

This case, however, is not a simple one.

NYT reporter Fernando Santos wrote that Richardson and Redford, who recently started a foundation to protect New Mexico’s wildlife, found themselves on a collision course with Navajo Nation, the country’s largest federally recognized tribe. whose president released a letter to Congress on Aug. 2 asserting his support for horse-slaughtering

Santos wrote:

“Free-roaming horses cost the Navajos $200,000 a year in damage to property and range, said Ben Shelty, the Navajo president.

“There is a gap between reality and romance when,” Shelty said, “outsiders like Mr. Redford – who counts gunslinger, sheriff’s deputy and horse whisperer among his movie roles – interpret the struggles of American Indians.”

“Maybe Robert Redford can come and see what he can do to help us out,” Shelty said in an interview. “I’m ready to go in the direction to keep the horses alive and give them to somebody else, but right now the best alternative is having some sort of slaughter facility to come and do it.”

Santos reported:

“The horses, tens of thousands of them, are at the center of a passionate, politicized dispute playing out in court, in Congress and even within tribes across the West about whether federal authorities should sanction their slaughtering to thin the herds. The practice has never been banned, but stopped when money for inspections was cut from the federal budget.”

Gillis Morgan is an associate professor emeritus of journalism at Auburn University and an award-winning columnist. He can be reached at morgarg7@aol.com 

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