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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Licentiate Column 18/11/10

Fur is a tricky subject. It’s hard to be objective about animal fur, because so many emotions are involved. One one end of the spectrum there are vegans who would let only the best Stella MacCartney faux-leather boots touch their feet and shudder with extravagant horror at the though of Mittens the mink becoming Mittens the, er, mittens.

Then on the other end, there are animal fanciers, who love nothing more than buttery soft steaks and even buttery-er Loewe leathers. Fox-fur collars? Yes, please! Ermine-trimmed mukluks? Don’t mind if I do!

One of the more oddly beautiful things about free speech and conscious thought is that it gives us the right to wear the skins of dead animals that you wouldn’t pet at the zoo around our necks and somehow transform the act into a status symbol. Somewhere out there, a higher power is looking down at us and laughing his head off.

If you want my opinion (and you’re reading this, so you’re going to get it anyway), I don’t think that either of these people are inherently right or wrong. It’s a stony theoretical terrain, strewn with more emotional landmines than the average Celine Dion song. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and not one is better than the other.

What I cannot stand is the proselytising of some animal rights activists. If you pair the stance of ‘fur is wrong’ with an act of peaceful protest, then you have a coupling as perfect as strawberries and ice cream (perhaps not as harmonious and definitely not as tasty, but ultimately effective). Throwing paint on people - that’s just not on. Technically, it’s an assault and anyone who hurts a human being to defend a dead animal needs a fine tuning of the button in their brain marked ‘priorities’.

This week, I watched a slightly disturbing cartoon on Channel Four. Entitled The Tannery, it showed the death of two woodland creatures, a rabbit and a fox. The fox is killed by a hunter for it’s fur and so the spirit of the doomed fox is condemned to hang around with it’s own pelt for eternity, while the rabbit gets eaten by a wolf and ascends to Fuzzy Bunny Heaven.

This makes about as much sense as the worldwide success and dubious acclaim of Jersey Shore. The circumstances of death, which are completely arbitrary, somehow determine what happens to an animal’s spirit after it dies. This might be an obvious question, but who exactly is the maker of this film to make such an odd assertion? Did he have a one-on-one chat with the Maker Of The Animals? Did Doctor Doolittle stand in as a UN approved interpreter? Because this makes zero sense whatsoever.

Whatever your stance on animals and fur, it’s important not to get swayed too much by the opinions of other people. It’s a standpoint as individual to you as your fingerprint and it’s important not to feel guilty or inadequate over such a loaded topic. And always remember; if in doubt, go faux.