Sunday, October 2, 2011

How and How Not to Ban Fur

Early in the morning of September 26, a group of animal “liberationists” calling themselves “the arson unit” set fire to a fur store in Caldwell, Idaho. Caldwell, Idaho, however, is not likely to ban the sale of fur any time soon.

During the evening of September 19, after individuals such as Ed Buck, Ellen Lavinthal, Bryan Monell, and others worked for months to make West Hollywood, California a fur free city, and finally working with newly-elected city council member John D’Amico, the West Hollywood City Council enacted a ban on the selling of fur. No fur stores in West Hollywood were set on fire. There was just some very hard, unexciting, undramatic work educating the public, holding rallies, and working to elect a humane city council person, and culminating in this historic city council meeting attended by scores of fur ban supporters who stayed at the meeting into the wee hours of the night.

The communique from the “arson unit” regarding the Idaho attack read in part, “by oppressing innocent life, you’ve lost your rights. We’ve come to take you down a notch. Stay in business, and we’ll be back.”

Do you think for a minute that this is going to make Caldwell, Idaho even consider a ban on fur sales? Or do you think it might just make them circle their wagons, and fight even harder against those who commit violence in the name of animal rights? And do you think it is going to win any hearts and minds of the public? Or do you think it is just going to make ordinary people equate banning fur with “extremists” who would commit arson?

Of course, you can argue that West Hollywood is a much more liberal town than Caldwell, and that, even if nothing had been done, Caldwell would be much less likely to institute a fur ban than West Hollywood. That is true. But I have a feeling that if fur stores in West Hollywood had been set ablaze, following which, “communiques” had been sent saying “stay in business, and we’ll be back,” even liberal West Hollywood wouldn’t have a fur ban today.

When violence is committed in the name of animal rights, it becomes an issue of the violence, not of the animals’ rights. When people stick to the issue, work hard within the system to make a humane change, the focus remains on the crucial goal of helping the animals.

So, to those of you who believe it is in the animals’ best interested to use “any means necessary,” I say: look at what you have actually accomplished. The means you are using are not only not necessary, they are counterproductive to your cause. You are cowards who won’t do the real hard work it takes to bring about change, but engage in “exciting” activities which take the spotlight off the animals and put it on you.

And to those of you who worked so hard to bring about the fur ban in West Hollywood, I say: Well done! Congratulations! You are heroes, and the world is better off for your work.

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