I am the line where being an animal lover and a functional fur-wearer blurs. I know there are staunch supporters and adversaries in the debate over the wearing of fur—but at what point do good intentions rear their heads in daylight only to be revealed as upper-class guilt?
The truth is that this argument can only take place in a very particular environment. An environment where people aren’t concerned with putting food on the table for their kids, or the ways in which they are going to survive if they lose their salary in the most recent round of lay-offs at a job that just barely pays the bills to start with.
This conversation does not take place in a neighborhood where people are concerned for the safety of their loved ones because the streets just outside their homes are riddled with violence that makes them fearful to perform the daily tasks and activities to which many of us don’t give a second thought.
This debate is not even for the person who is trying to figure out how she will afford to attend college in the face of a dramatically climbing tuition rate, considering that her family makes just enough to not qualify for financial assistance, but not enough to handle anymore expenses.
This conversation generally takes place among people who are accustomed to having all that they actually need—along with a good amount of what they want. This discourse is prompted by people who are afforded the luxury of having the time to ponder the ills of society and misfortune in the world because very little misfortune exists within their own microcosmic universes. In turn, they cannot help but notice the consumption and over-consumption of their peers; so they, out of guilt and/or perceived responsibility, make it their platform to protect the animals that can’t protect themselves. Right?
In September 2010, animal rights activists release 5000 minks from a farm in Donegal, in the northwest region of Ireland. Actually, out of the approximately 33,000 minks on Anderson’s Mink Farm, the other 28,000 chose to stay put in their cages. Out of the 5000 that escaped, most of the minks were hit by cars when they wandered into the street looking lost and bewildered (while also causing accidents). The other minks killed one another or starved to death, while about 100 were recaptured by the farm. According to the U.K. newspaper the Guardian, agricultural authorities reported that the surviving minks threatened to destroy nearby fish, fowl and rabbit populations in the area. I would pose this question to the animal activists who did not admit to participating, but praised the people who did: what exactly did this act accomplish for the minks—most of whom died horrible deaths after being released—or for the lives of the other animals and people impacted by this stunt? Or was there no other positive outcome other than the activists involved receiving publicity for “caring”?
According to Lloyd Alter on TreeHugger.com:
“The thing to understand about veganism, as a philosophy, is that it starts with the precept that we, as humans, do not have any right to “use” animals for anything. That our use of animals, who have no choice in the matter, is a form of exploitation. And that we should avoid, to the extent it is possible, all forms of that exploitation.”
This was his response to a person who asked why Alter feels it to be wrong to also wear wool, considering that no harm is done to sheep in the shearing process. To him I ask, what good is any being — person or animal — if it has no use? If you are of use, then you have a purpose in the larger scheme of things. Are animals not to have a purpose? Were they placed here simply to enjoy eating, shitting, fucking and eventually dying?
Here’s an interesting notion to consider: A lion wouldn’t object to another lion killing a gazelle any more than any other member of the food chain would chastise a peer for hunting the prey that is used as a resource of food, warmth or sport; but human beings so often insert moral responsibility into what has always been considered natural selection . . . whatever happened to survival of the fittest? We should not kill minks to stay warm, but they kill each other over territory and are known to be notorious for killing more than they need to eat. So we protect animals that gratuitously kill more than they need, while viciously hunting and verbally attacking other human beings for not holding the same views that we do . . . and that’s okay? Smells like bullshit.