Last week in Cleveland, animal-rights activist Meredith Lowell, 35, stabbed another woman three times, allegedly for no other reason than… Read More
Last week in Cleveland, animal-rights activist Meredith Lowell, 35, stabbed another woman three times, allegedly for no other reason than that she was wearing fur boots. Mercifully the victim survived, while Lowell has been charged with attempted murder.
It's impossible to say at this point how Lowell justified this act of extreme aggression, but before I get accused of making excuses for her, let's get one thing straight: there can be no excuses. Unless, of course, she's found to be insane. The buck stops with her, and she must now face the consequences of her actions.
That said, we all know that advocates for causes can commit extreme acts that they wouldn't even consider if there weren't others egging them on.
At one time, attacking abortion doctors was a trend in the US, and presumably each new attacker felt more emboldened knowing that others had gone before them. In the 1990s, when fear of secondhand smoke was bordering on hysterical, a Japanese youth shoved an old man under a train for smoking on a station platform, killing him. I'm sure there are many similar stories.
Obviously the kind of people who commit these acts feel very strongly, at least in the heat of the moment, that their aggression is justified. And perhaps they even developed their convictions independently of any outside influence. More often than not, though, they are inspired to act by the propaganda of lobby groups that fuels their nascent beliefs.
Which raises the question: is society doing enough to silence groups that incite others to violence? Yes and no. There is already a slew of legislation to combat hate crimes based on race, religion and sexual orientation. But other inciters of violence are slipping under the radar, including extreme animal rights groups. Nothing is being done to mute their often hateful rhetoric - rhetoric that may have turned Meredith Lowell into a would-be killer.
The Internet is now awash with animal rights propaganda depicting animal users as evil incarnate. "Meat is murder!" they cry. But this picture above, from the 2003 PETA campaign "Your mommy kills animals!" says it all.
Aimed specifically at teenagers, what effect did PETA think this comic-book campaign would have? Could Meredith Lowell, who was then about 19, have seen it? If not, there were, and still are, plenty of other materials she probably saw.
The message, of course, is brutally clear. It tells children that if their mommy wears fur, she is a bloodthirsty psycho who derives pleasure from killing animals in the most gruesome manner possible. It then asks children to confront their mommies with their blood-curdling acts of barbarism.
For lucky parents, of course, this might turn into an important teaching moment - an opportunity to inform their children that groups like PETA are full of it and mommy knows best. Or it could go very badly.
It's certainly not hard to imagine that Meredith Lowell was exposed to this kind of vicious propaganda, and that this provided her feeble mind with justification for stabbing a woman three times for wearing fur.
Yes, it is Meredith Lowell who stands charged with attempted murder, and she alone must now face the music. But perhaps part of the blame also rests with the animal rights movement for making her think she did the right thing.
As proposals to ban fur retail in California and New York grind their way through their respective political processes, two… Read More
As proposals to ban fur retail in California and New York grind their way through their respective political processes, two giants of the animal protest industry are just behind the scenes, pulling the strings. But how credible are these groups, and what credentials do they really have to be dictating public policy?
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) want to end all use of animals by society. In their pursuit of this agenda, fur is just the thin end of the wedge. The thick end includes the giant food industry, as well as leather, entertainment (zoos and circuses), transportation, pets, medical research -- the list of ways that animals enrich and improve our lives goes on and on. In a chart showing all these uses of animals, the fur trade would barely register -- probably less than one-quarter of one percent of the animals used in North America.
So why does fur feature so prominently in recent animal-rights campaigning? First and foremost, fur is seen as a soft target. Totally ignoring its virtues -- like keeping people warm and providing sustainable livelihoods -- HSUS and PETA present fur as a cruel and frivolous luxury worn only by rich people with more money than taste. Selling this message to politicians is made easier by the fact that most people don't own much or any fur, so they can take it or leave it. Convincing folks to give up their hamburgers and leather shoes is a much tougher sell.
Make no mistake though: if HSUS and PETA ever succeed in toppling the fur trade, they have plenty of other targets lined up to take its place.
Meanwhile, these groups rake in tens of millions of dollars each year from well-meaning donors, exploiting freedom of speech to the legal limits as they smear the fur trade and other animal industries as cruel and unnecessary.
With skillful manipulation of traditional media, complemented by social media and direct-mail campaigns, HSUS and PETA have perfected the art of fundraising; their war chests are overflowing with cash. But how is this money really being spent? Let's turn the projector around for a change, and see how credible these groups really are.
HSUS Does Not Run Animal Shelters
HSUS coyly calls itself an "animal protection" organisation, and its propaganda strongly suggests its mission is animal welfare, a moral principle which any decent person supports. Closer examination, however, reveals that its real agenda is "animal rights" -- in other words, no use of animals. As long ago as 1980, an HSUS convention explicitly resolved "to pursue on all fronts ... the clear articulation and establishment of the rights of all animals ... within the full range of American life and culture."
So when it comes to animal agriculture, for example, HSUS officially campaigns for higher welfare standards, but statements by several of its officers over the years indicate a desire to shut down animal agriculture completely - something most Americans don't support at all.
Equally misleading: many HSUS pop-up ads and other fundraising materials show cute puppies and kittens, creating the impression that it runs animal shelters. This has broad public appeal. But in fact, HSUS doesn’t run a single shelter and only gives a tiny fraction of its income to groups that do provide this important service.
While HSUS may not devote much time to running animal shelters, it's a master at fundraising, leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to part potential donors from their money. You don't even need to be alive! Just name HSUS "as a beneficiary in your will, trust, insurance policy, donor advised fund, or foundation." A subsidiary called the Humane Legacy Society promises an "experienced team is here to help" you kiss your money goodbye.
All of this obviously works: according to its 2017 Form 990, which American tax-exempt nonprofits file each year with the Internal Revenue Service, in just that one year HSUS generated revenue of $142 million from well-meaning donors, legacies, and investments.
And what does HSUS do with all this money? According to CharityWatch, 48% of HSUS's budget goes on overhead, including fundraising expenses, salaries and pension plans, which is why it gave HSUS a "D" rating in 2018.
Indeed, HSUS has a reputation for being very generous to its own officers. The same Form 990 shows that Wayne Pacelle, who was CEO from 2004 to 2018 when he resigned following accusations of sexual harassment, received $387,200 that year, while five other executives received over $200,000 each. And that's not counting their expense accounts.
PETA is cut from the same cloth as HSUS, with a few twists.
First, PETA is more honest about its primary agenda (if not much else), stating in its 2017 Form 990 that its mission is the "protection of animal rights". It wants "total animal liberation", meaning an end to everything from honey and silk, to zoos and seeing-eye dogs, and, of course, all meat, dairy, leather, wool, and medical research using animals. So, at least with PETA you know who you're dealing with.
Second, PETA is not quite as obsessed as HSUS with amassing funds, or perhaps it's simply not as good at it. PETA's declared revenue in 2017 was $53 million - still a huge chunk of change, but only one-third that of HSUS. And, officially at least, president Ingrid Newkirk paid herself a modest $46,600, although a few officers received more than double that.
But like HSUS, there are some disturbing skeletons in PETA's closet. According to PetaKillsAnimals.com, PETA gave grants to arsonist Rodney Coronado and the eco-terrorist group Earth Liberation Front. PETA also gave money to a spokesman of the Animal Liberation Front, and footed a $27,000 legal bill for animal activist Roger Troen. It's also produced shocking propaganda targeting children, mocking religion (it claims Jesus was vegetarian), and comparing farm animals to Holocaust victims. The biggest surprise for many supporters, however, has been the revelation that PETA euthanises homeless pets - in droves! According to the Center for Consumer Freedom, PETA has killed 33,000 animals entrusted to its care since 1998. In 2018 alone, of 2,470 dogs and cats it received, 72% were reportedly put to sleep!
"We are complete press sluts," PETA boss Ingrid Newkirk told The New Yorker in 2003. And that means peddling everything from half truths to "fake news", including one particularly shocking fabrication. No group bears more responsibility for spreading the lie that the fur trade "skins animals alive" than PETA. In the current campaign to ban the sale of fur products in several American cities, that lie has been regurgitated by influential people like New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and celebrity Anjelica Huston.
HSUS's wall of shame includes an expensive but ultimately unsuccessful bid to have Asiatic raccoon fur labeled as "raccoon dog" by the Federal Trade Commission. This animal is the only species in the genus Nyctereutes, and is more closely related to foxes than domestic dogs. HSUS claimed the Asiatic raccoon label was "fraudulent" and "bogus", but anyone can see through its game. It wants consumers to think they are being offered dog fur, which is both illegal in the US and morally unacceptable to most Americans.
Another tactic used by both HSUS and PETA is to claim that the fur trade tricks consumers into buying its products. In large retail operations, errors inevitably occur from time to time in labeling, catalogues and advertising materials; we have all seen corrections published to clarify such errors. The protest industry has sought out and exploited cases where real fur was occasionally mislabeled as "faux" by department stores. For example, when an HSUS "investigation" found that Kohl's department store had mistakenly labeled rabbit and Asiatic raccoon fur as faux, CEO Kitty Block called it evidence of a "fraudulent fur industry".
Of course, fake furs are usually marketed as a lower-cost alternative to the real McCoy, so no business person would intentionally label real fur as fake. But why let common sense get in the way of a good propaganda story?
Recently, HSUS and PETA have generated headlines by pressuring several leading designer brands into dropping fur, while implying it just required a little gentle persuasion for these companies to see the light.
It is not hard to imagine why some CEOs are tempted to step away from fur, at least temporarily, when 90% of their security costs stem from products representing only a small fraction of their sales. Can you spell "protection racket"?
There may be an even more cynical explanation for why some designers caved to activist demands: the rowdy protest campaigns provided a politically correct cover story for companies switching to lower-cost (and more profitable?) fake fur. Now brands can cheapen their production inputs while claiming it's an "ethical" commitment.
Whatever their real motivation, designer brands dropping fur has far-reaching implications. While most consumers, media, and politicians are aware that animal rights groups play fast and loose with the truth, they now have the likes of Gucci's Bizzarri claiming that fake fur (usually made from petroleum) is a more sustainable choice than natural fur. Rightly or wrongly -- very wrongly, in this case -- executives of famous brands have media appeal and thus credibility when they claim to be saving the planet, much like Hollywood movie stars.
For decades, fur has served as a go-to scapegoat to fuel fundraising drives by HSUS, PETA and dozens of other animal rights groups. That money funds more campaigning and more fundraising, and on it goes – a disturbingly effective business model.
Now, with several top designer brands helping to generate headlines, activists can argue that fur is no longer "socially acceptable". This has been the cue for politicians sympathetic to the activist cause -- or simply enticed by the votes and cash that animal rights groups bring to the table. The political battle is especially fierce at the municipal level, where a small group of council members makes decisions, and there are fewer checks and balances than in state or federal governments. And while mainstream media had mostly ignored anti-fur demos in recent years, the political campaigns are "news".
What we are now seeing, in other words, is a scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours convergence of interests among the protest industry, some designer brands, celebrities, media (including the new social media), and sympathetic or opportunistic politicians. At the heart of this self-serving dance - like a spider at the centre of its web - are HSUS and PETA.
Which brings us back to the central question: how credible are these groups really, and should they be dictating public policy priorities? It's time for politicians to take a closer look at who is pulling their strings.
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Now that recent actions by White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis have sparked discussion about the importance of tolerance in a modern,… Read More
Now that recent actions by White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis have sparked discussion about the importance of tolerance in a modern, multi-cultural society, perhaps it is time to denounce another type of increasingly aggressive hate group: animal-rights extremists.
I can hear animal activists choking on their tofu stir-fry, but the facts speak for themselves: their campaigns – like those of other hate groups – almost always involve a direct attack on the rights, reputation and livelihoods of other people.
Hate groups are usually defined as organizations that promote discrimination against specific groups of people based on their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. It’s time we added "employment" to that list.
Think about it: animal activists are not satisfied with expressing their opinions or exercising their right to wear cotton, hemp and synthetics, rather than fur or other animal products. Instead, they seek to impose their views on everyone.
While they call for compassion, they often seem to be driven more by anger and hatred of people who don’t share their views.
They use sensationalist and misleading videos of dubious origin to smear the entire fur industry and everyone associated with it – the same sort of tactics employed by other hate groups. The Nazis, of course, pioneered the use of staged films to fan hatred against Jews and others.
And if propaganda doesn’t work, animal extremists – like other hate groups – aren’t shy to employ intimidation. Despite decades of misleading activist campaigning, fur is now being sold in a wider range of stores than ever, in designer collections, as trim on outerwear, in fashion accessories. If consumers agreed with the activists’ condemnation of fur, stores wouldn’t be selling it. But animal extremists do not think that consumers and retailers have a right to make such decisions for themselves.
Their response is rowdier demonstrations. Fur-wearing consumers are harangued as they enter or leave stores; they are followed down the street by angry activists. Stores are warned that the demos won’t stop until they drop fur from their offerings. Under cover of darkness, store windows are broken and locks are glued. So much for the respectful exchange of views.
The animal extremist message is clear: "Do as we say, or face the consequences." Like a mafia protection racket. Or a chilling echo of the threats and intimidation used against businesses that resisted segregationist thugs in the early days of the US Civil Rights Movement.
Elevating Animals, Degrading People
The aggressiveness of animal-extremists is fueled by their fundamentalist “animal-rights” philosophy. If you believe that killing a mink (or a cow, pig or chicken) is the moral equivalent of killing a fellow human, it is easy to justify the most radical of actions.
In fact, most people in our society accept the responsible use animals for food, clothing, and other purposes. As designer Karl Lagerfeld has said about activists protesting his use of fur: “For me, as long as people eat meat and wear leather, I don't get the message.”
We have shown in a previous article, "Why fur is the ethical clothing choice", that the modern fur trade fully satisfies the four criteria required for most people to accept the use of animals as ethical. The wild-fur trade is well regulated and sustainable. Research and standards promote animal welfare for both wild and farmed fur-bearers. Fur animals are fully utilized with minimal waste. And the fur trade supports rural and remote communities while providing a valuable and long-lasting natural clothing material.
I know that most "animal-rights" advocates will be shocked at being labelled as hate mongers; they will claim that they are promoting justice, not discrimination. But every hate group claims to be promoting justice for their own particular cause. Having a cause does not justify attacking the reputations and livelihoods of people who do not share your beliefs.
It is time that the people of the fur trade were recognized for their knowledge and skills in maintaining this remarkable heritage industry, and for developing one of the most responsible and sustainable animal-use industries in the world.
And it is time for the media, political leaders, and the general public to take a much harder look at the misguided and irresponsible actions of animal extremists – and to say "no" to hate groups of all stripes.
Sensationalized videos claiming to show “animal abuse” are sadly a fact of life these days for animal agriculture, and they’re often… Read More
Sensationalized videos claiming to show “animal abuse” are sadly a fact of life these days for animal agriculture, and they’re often promoted (if not actually filmed) by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. One such video, dealing with wool production from Angora rabbits, premiered in 2013 and has gone unchallenged - until now. An Angora farmer in the US contacted us to raise some real concerns about this video, which we think are worth sharing.
Before dissecting the video, let's start with a backgrounder on Angora wool production.
There are two distinct types of Angora rabbit: those that moult, and those that don’t.
Those that moult have their wool plucked every three or four months, just before moulting begins. Plucking produces the best wool because most of the guard hairs are left behind, but it is time-consuming. Plucking leaves in place the incoming coat, although one breed, the French Angora, can be fed a depilatory which results in the exposure of bare skin. Here's a video showing how to pluck an Angora properly.
Angoras that don’t moult are sheared. Because the guard hairs are included, the wool is not such high quality, but collecting it is quicker and the yield is higher because wool can be sheared even from sensitive areas of the rabbit's body. Shearing is therefore more common in commercial operations. The most important commercial breed is the high-yielding and virtually mat-free German Angora. Ninety per cent of Angora wool production today is in China, and almost all Chinese farms raise German Angoras. Here's a video showing how to shear an Angora properly.
OK, it's time to watch the main attraction. If you find videos of animal cruelty hard to stomach, just give it a miss and take my word.
0:10 – 1:03: This rabbit is almost certainly a non-moulting German Angora, even though it looks very similar to a moulting French Angora. We can tell it's a non-moulting breed because its legs are tethered to what is called a stretching board. These are sometimes used, but not always, when rabbits are sheared.
PETA describes the stretching process as follows: "During the cutting process, their front and back legs are tightly tethered – a terrifying experience for any prey animal – and the sharp cutting tools inevitably wound them as they struggle desperately to escape." In reality, while rabbits being stretched for the first time might be nervous, they soon learn to relax. Stretching keeps the rabbit still and pulls the skin taut, thereby preventing nicks and cuts from the shears - the total opposite of what PETA claims. Here's an excellent video demonstrating how stretching is done.
Oh, but what's happening now? Having set the rabbit up for shearing, the man is plucking it right down to its skin! He is also applying far greater force than is ever needed to pluck a moulting breed. This is all wrong for two reasons. First, the rabbit is obviously in pain. Second, as US Angora farmer and advisor on this blog post Dawn Panda says, this could be called "worst business practice". "We see the wool being yanked off, guard hairs included, in a manner that will ruin the coat for several cycles," says Dawn. "It will damage the hair follicles and greatly reduce the quality and value of future harvests as new coats will grow in coarser and hairier. No one trying to make money would do that."
This raises a disturbing question. Are we seeing a non-moulting German Angora being forcibly, and very roughly, plucked just for the camera?
1:04 - 1:17: Here a rabbit is being sheared, so we don't see any pink skin. It appears calm. At this point in the video, it is not clear whether this footage and the footage of a rabbit being violently plucked were shot on the same farm. We'll come back to this because, if all the footage is from one farm, the question is raised why one rabbit would be plucked and one sheared.
1:18-1:22: Here a rabbit that has just been sheared is shown suspended in the air by its front legs. This makes no sense, Dawn assures us. There is no part of Angora husbandry in which a rabbit would ever find itself in this situation. It can't even be claimed the rabbit fell off its stretching board because it's far too high. Once again, we can’t help but wonder if this bizarre scene was staged for the camera.
1:36-2:02: Here we see a parade of seven rabbits in their cages. Of these, the first three still have hair on their torsos and have been sheared. The next three have been plucked right down to their skin. The last rabbit cannot be seen clearly.
This scene suggests that the violent plucking at the beginning of the video and the shearing that followed took place on the same farm. And since commercial farmers generally don't have mixed herds of moulting and non-moulting rabbits, we can also suppose that all the rabbits shown are non-moulting German Angoras. The burning question is now unavoidable: Was the violent plucking of a non-moulting rabbit in the opening sequence staged for the camera? It would not be normal practice on a commercial Angora farm, insists Dawn.
"If animal lovers would use their heads, they wouldn’t be taken in by sensationalist publicity stunts," she says. "However, the addition of poignant music seems to ensure that one’s heart is going to overrule one’s head and voila! Misinformation is spread exponentially, the lie repeated until it’s accepted as fact. There are a number of excellent teaching videos on plucking and/or shearing Angora rabbits on YouTube; the lack of screaming, struggling or any pain is the norm, not the exception. This PETA video certainly does not reflect the reality of Angora farming as I know it!"
If PETA's Angora rabbit video was indeed staged to misrepresent normal practice, we should not be surprised. This ignominious tactic by animal activists traces its roots all the way back to 1964, when the urban myth about seals being "skinned alive" began with a film that was later proven to have been staged.
While people have a right to believe that humans should not kill or use animals in any way, they lose all credibility when they manipulate images to attack the reputations of those they disagree with.
Every month, as I read through the past month’s fur news headlines, I think to myself, “Wow, this animals rights… Read More
Every month, as I read through the past month's fur news headlines, I think to myself, "Wow, this animals rights activism story is even stupider than the ones from last month." This month is no exception. In fact, June might be hard to beat because the activists have been up to some seriously stupid stuff. Let's have a look.
Speaking of deer, the first place spot goes to the imbecile who thinks the best way to control the deer population on Staten Island is to start a 2 million dollar a year male deer vasectomy program, which the New York Department of Environmental Conservation thinks is a bad idea, and will have “limited effectiveness” and be “unable to quickly reduce deer-human conflicts.”
And let's give the special runner-up award to Kimberly Sherriton, a housewife in Long Island who organised a series of protests outside a farm because she wanted to save the life of a cow that they were going to slaughter to eat. The best part? Her solution was, "Please, tell him to go to Whole Foods and go get some antibiotic-free beef there." Because Whole Foods sells beef from cows that weren't slaughtered, right? I can't even deal with this level of stupid.
If you are struggling to find ways to include fur in your summer wardrobe (the struggle is real, people) then Vogue's piece 14 Ways to Wear Fur All Summer Long has some really useful tips. If you are in a shopping mood, then you'll be pleased to hear that Kluger Furs has expanded and Adrienne Landau is now selling online, thanks to Beyoncé and Madonna. And if you are looking for a few soft materials to fill in the gaps of your fur wardrobe (maybe the summer mink ideas weren't working for you?) then keep an eye out for this new blend: perino.
It’s time for our monthly Fur In The News roundup, and as always, we’ll be looking at the latest fur stories,… Read More
It's time for our monthly Fur In The News roundup, and as always, we'll be looking at the latest fur stories, but we'll start with a couple of more general interest. First up, there's a new illustrated parasite guide doing the rounds (above) that speaks for itself. Please share widely!
Then there's the story of how nasty scorned vegans can be, which surprised even us. When a group of Californians found out one of their favourite vegan restaurants had owners who raised their own animals and then slaughtered them, they got a bit upset. Actually, more than a bit upset, they started sending the restaurant owners death threats. We are still trying to figure out how someone can claim to care about animals' lives, but threaten human lives. It makes no sense! Then again, neither does not eating meat or not wearing fur.
LESLIE BALLENTINE: And last but certainly not least, in late May we lost a dear friend and a remarkable collaborator. Leslie Ballentine worked for some 30 years to help producers tell their stories and reply to animal rights challenges, including work with Ontario egg producers and later as founding Director of Ontario Farm Animal Council, and more recently as communications consultant for the Fur Institute of Canada and Truth About Fur, among other clients. Leslie’s knowledge, commitment and passion for our work will be sorely missed. We send our sincere condolences to Leslie’s husband Alan, to her daughter Kailin and to other family and friends. You left us too soon and we miss you already, Leslie. Thank you for all your hard work in our field.
Fashion house Giorgio Armani announced this March it will no longer be using any fur in its products because, in the… Read More
Fashion house Giorgio Armani announced this March it will no longer be using any fur in its products because, in the words of its patriarch and namesake, “Technological progress … allows us to have valid alternatives at our disposition that render the use of cruel practices unnecessary as regards animals.” While this tortuous explanation may sound sincere, it’s not. It’s PR bunkum. So why is Giorgio Armani really ditching fur?
OK, first I need to explain why Giorgio Armani's statement is bunkum - and add a general disclaimer that I don't actually know what went down here!
Giorgio Armani's statement is bunkum because he almost certainly never said it, or even thought it, or had a hand in picking the words. It's just part of a script prepared by his animal rights handlers.
How can I be so sure? Let’s start with some context.
• Fashion designers don't use fur for years and then quit of their own volition. There's always pressure involved from animal rightists.
• Like all fashion houses that use fur, Giorgio Armani has been harassed by animal rightists for years, but unlike some, has shown stiff resistance. Even now, its commitment to quit fur may not mean anything. In 2007, Giorgio told the press, "I spoke with the people from PETA and they showed me some materials that convinced me not to use fur." But a year later he was back with a collection of fur coats for babies! PETA responded with a poster campaign of Giorgio with a Pinocchio nose and has been gunning for him ever since.
• Giorgio Armani is a huge name in everything from ready-to-wear to haute couture, but in the world of fur is barely a player anymore. For the past several years, rabbit trim has been its thing. So quitting fur will hardly impact its collections. Add to this the fact that two major markets that have buoyed fur's revival this century are now in the doldrums (Russia) or slowing down (China), and we can say that quitting fur will have a negligible impact on Armani's profits.
Make This Problem Go Away
Against this backdrop, we can perhaps understand the real reason Giorgio Armani is ditching fur.
As Keith Kaplan of the Fur Information Council of America explained to WWD, when designers are harassed by animal rightists, "I think they consider whether it is worth the threat of store protests and disruption of business and so forth. Right now, because of the economic conditions in Russia and China, I think designers are evaluating and saying, 'Perhaps at this juncture, it might not be. We’ll give in at this point to make this problem go away'."
And that, in a nutshell, is probably it. Giorgio Armani just wants to get the animal rights lobby of its back, at a time when the business is already tough enough.
The deal would follow what is now a standard template. The animal rights groups pen a statement to be issued in the name of the designer, claiming he has "seen the light" and will be going fur-free. The animal rightists then trumpet victory, claim full credit for their powers of persuasion, and promise to stop picketing stores and generally making the designer's life miserable.
In the case of Giorgio Armani, its decision to cave was announced by HSUS and the Fur Free Alliance, “a coalition of 40 animal protection organizations in 28 countries that are trying to end the fur trade”. “Pursuing the positive process undertaken long ago,” Giorgio's prepared script said, “my company is now taking a major step ahead, reflecting our attention to the critical issues of protecting and caring for the environment and animals.”
Had Giorgio spoken his mind, he might have said, "After years of relentless pressure, I have decided to throw in the towel and give the animal rights nuts what they want because they're a pain in the butt and I just want them to go away!”
Meanwhile, inquiring minds are still asking two questions: Is the "100% fur-free" clause in effect? And was any hidden pressure brought to bear on Giorgio Armani?
The "100% fur-free" clause is an unspoken compromise between animal rightists and designers used in closing a tough negotiation. In essence, it is agreed that the animal rightists will praise the designer for abandoning fur completely - going 100% fur-free. Meanwhile, the designer quietly continues to use fur that is a by-product of food production.
Luxury goods manufacturer Hugo Boss recently reached such a deal. In its 2014 Sustainability Report, it explained that it had been "in dialog with several animal and consumer protection organizations for many years, for example with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals." Presumably because of these "many years" of harassment (sorry, dialog), it announced that from 2016, it would be restricting the sources used for its fur supplies. Specifically, it would be "concentrating on furs that are byproducts of the food industry," while halting use of pelts from "raccoon dogs, foxes or rex rabbits". No mention was made of quitting fur, or even of reducing overall fur use.
You might think Hugo Boss will get hauled over the coals the next time it trots out a collection of shearling (sheep fur), but it won't. Ralph Lauren, which uses an enormous amount of shearling, proves that.
FAST FACT: What is shearling? We all know that sheared beaver is the hide and hair of beaver that has been sheared to a short pile to make it lighter and less bulky, and give it a plush feel. Sheared mink is the same deal. When the hide and hair of sheep are used, it is known as shearling. All are types of FUR.
Ralph Lauren's deal with PETA, on the face of it at least, is the most shameless piece of self-serving, mutual ass-kissing in the history of the fur trade's relationship with animal rightists. A footnote in the show notes for Ralph Lauren's fall 2015 collection says it all: "Ralph Lauren has a long-standing commitment to not use fur products in our apparel and accessories. All fur-like pieces featured in the collection are constructed of shearling."
Last but not least, we inevitably ask ourselves whether animal rightists finally found Giorgio's Achilles' heel. It's a reasonable question when we consider how long he held out. Maybe he really did fold because fur is not important to the company, or because the luxury fur market is slowing. Or maybe he was made an offer he couldn't refuse!
Yes, it's pure speculation, but that was the buzz when Hugo Boss made its deal. No one put it in print, or spoke it on the air waves, but people were thinking it. Could Hugo Boss have been threatened with a campaign telling the world how it got its big break?
Hugo Ferdinand Boss: Nazi Party member, sponsoring member of the SS, and admirer of Hitler. It's not much of a résumé, is it? This is the man whose company took off as an official supplier of uniforms to branches of the Nazi Party, including the Brownshirts, the SS and the Hitler Youth, using POW’s and forced labourers.
Animal rights groups know all this stuff, of course, and probably have a bunch of other cards up their sleeves just waiting to be played. And maybe they had the dirt on Armani too - we'll never know.
But one thing is for sure: Giorgio Armani did not quit fur because "Technological progress … allows us to have valid alternatives at our disposition that render the use of cruel practices unnecessary as regards animals"! As readers of Truth About Fur know, and hopefully Giorgio Armani too, technological progress – and a strong commitment by the industry – now allow us to produce beautiful furs without animal suffering.
Hello 2016! Here’s our roundup of the fur in the news from the month of December. While many of us were busy shopping… Read More
Hello 2016! Here's our roundup of the fur in the news from the month of December. While many of us were busy shopping and eating turkey, there were still a lot of news stories featuring the subjects that are dear to our hearts: trapping, farming, fur fashion, and cute animals. Let's start with farming!
An important story from the other side of the pond is this one from Denmark, where mink farmers are dealing with a scary outbreak of Aleutian Disease.
Cold weather brings lots of fur-clad celebrities, and we love the way singer Miranda Lambert showed off the fur coat her grandmother gave her (photographed above), despite upset from some of her activist fans.
Huffington Post hired yet another poorly informed "writer" who penned a piece about Canada Goose. He eats meat and claims that it is ok for his friends to hunt, but somehow it is not ok for trappers to live off the land. Hmmm ... Sounds as ridiculous as it is. Although we can never count on activists to be very sane or smart, here's a story about one who is threatening to kill people who consume or use animal products.
Sounds like the Chinese are to thank for boosting the hunting and trapping industry. Here is a very interesting piece about how Chinese are the main buyers of polar bear fur, but the trade is no threat to the animal population.
This is the third installment in our Hypocrite series, aimed at exposing the celebrities and professionals whose anti-fur arguments are… Read More
This is the third installment in our Hypocrite series, aimed at exposing the celebrities and professionals whose anti-fur arguments are full of holes. Today we are talking about singer-songwriter and TV presenter Brian McFadden.
Your first thought is probably “Who the heck is that and why do I care?” We realize that someone who rose to fame with an Irish boy band called Westlife isn’t exactly worthy of a column here, but this was one hypocrite we just couldn’t resist, because it was TOO EASY.
The Hypocrite: Brian McFadden, ex-boy band singer, now TV presenter and singer-songwriter, who is also the star of PETA’s latest anti-fur campaign (see above).
The Hypocrisy: We’ve gotten into the habit of doing a little bit of research on PETA spokespeople, so after seeing the new campaign, we wandered over to Brian McFadden’s Instagram page, hoping to find a photo of him eating a burger or wearing leather shoes. But what we found was even better. We found a photo of him, less than a year ago, wearing fur!
You are probably thinking, as we did, what if it's fake? Well, PETA condemns wearing fake fur as well as real, so either way he'd be an odd choice for a spokesman. (PETA also believes people shouldn’t have pets, but that’s another story!) But we checked anyway.
Our lead was a tag on Brian's photo to fantastic British accessory designer Charlotte Simone, who works in both real and fake fur. So we emailed the brand and asked if the item was still available. A representative confirmed Brian's scarf is not only still available, but is made of real fox fur. And here it is!
What they say:PETA says, “Brian knows that just like dogs, minks are sensitive animals with emotions and the ability to feel pain – and they deserve better than to be killed for a frivolous fashion accessory.” (Luckily scarves aren’t frivolous fashion accessories, they play the very important role of keeping our necks warm when it's freezing cold!)
What we say: Charlotte Simone makes some seriously beautiful fur accessories, so we totally understand why Brian wears one. But it is all wrong for him to wear fur and campaign against fur at the same time!
Brian, it's time to decide. Either ditch your beloved fur, or - much better - keep it, be warm, be stylish, and ditch PETA.
Oh my, how silly of me! PETA is really trying to say that we shouldn’t kill animals for fur. Let’s just hope the young muggers out there appreciate the metaphor!
The campaign video shows a man clubbing a woman in a park with a big stick before stripping a fur coat from her lifeless, semi-naked body. (To complete the sex-and-violence theme, we catch a glimpse of breasts as her stripped body hits the ground.)
The video generated angry comments on social media, denouncing its outrageous trivialization of violence against women. Several commenters suggested that “PETA has finally gone too far” and has now “lost all credibility”. If only they were right.
Unfortunately, PETA understands modern media far better than most of its critics do. It knows that the media, and especially social media, cannot resist sensationalism. PETA’s modus operandi takes a page right out of P.T. Barnum's playbook when he said: “We don’t care what you write about us, so long as you spell our name correctly!”
Or as PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk put it: “We are complete media sluts. We didn’t make up the rules, we just learned how to play the game.”
PetaFiles: A Legacy of Crass Exploitation
Here are a few examples of PETA’s adventures into the land beyond good taste and common decency:
THE HOLOCAUST ON YOUR PLATE campaign of 2003 was a travelling display juxtaposing photos of concentration camp prisoners with images of farm animals in abattoirs. Widely criticised wherever it went, this campaign was banned in Germany.
NEITHER OF US IS MEAT was a 2004 billboard campaign exploiting the case of British Columbia pig farmer Robert Pickton, who abducted and savagely murdered dozens of women. Authorities suspect that he may have fed their corpses to his pigs. PETA's billboards showed a young woman on one side and a pig on the other.
GOT PROSTATE CANCER? was the slogan on PETA billboards in 2000 linking milk to prostate cancer. Featured without his consent was cancer sufferer New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani with a milky moustache. "It's tasteless and inappropriate to exploit my illness,” said Giuliani. “The message they're trying to deliver just makes sense in their own zealous, out-of-control thinking."
GOT BEER? was a 2000 campaign aimed at college campuses, encouraging underage students to drink beer instead of milk. "It's official," claimed PETA's posters. "Beer is better for you than milk." Another advocacy group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), was understandably not amused. For more on this campaign, read "Hey PETA: Got Ethics?"
According to its website, PETA’s excuse for such excesses is that, “Unlike our opposition which is mostly wealthy industries and corporations, PETA must rely largely on free ‘advertising’ through media coverage...”
They omit to mention that PETA raked in more than US$50 million in 2014 alone!
In fact, I hesitated to write this piece because I am very conscious that we are doing exactly what PETA wants: we are talking about them.
Nonetheless, I do think we need to denounce this latest PETA campaign, and not only because of the unconscionable trivialization of violence against women. This video also exposes how completely superficial PETA’s understanding really is of the environmental and ethical dimensions of the fur debate.
The fur trade is finally getting its story out, with public information campaigns like Furisgreen.com and TruthAboutFur.com. And the media and public are listening. Some may still choose not to wear fur, leather, wool or silk – or to eat meat – and that’s their right. But people are beginning to understand that, unlike most synthetics, fur is a natural and renewable resource that is being produced responsibly and sustainably. The fur trade is also a heritage industry that supports a wide range of cultures, skills and knowledge.
If this vicious video is the best response that PETA can offer to the serious discussion that the fur trade has initiated, its free ride with the media may soon be coming to an end.
We believe that animal welfare should be a priority in the fur industry, and strongly support initiatives to develop ever better animal welfare practices. However, we do not think that animals deserve rights, like humans.
It turns out the animal rights activists feel exactly the opposite, they hate animal welfare. Their entire history, nicely featured in this article by Protect The Harvest, has been about promoting equality between humans and animals. Well, that's just something we will have to agree to disagree on. And we also don't think that chimps are "persons".
June was a busy month for mink, one of our favourite farmed animals and so much cuter than cows, right?… Read More
June was a busy month for mink, one of our favourite farmed animals and so much cuter than cows, right? So let's start our Fur in the News roundup with a mink farm attack in Ontario, Canada, where animal extremists (who later claimed responsibility) released 1,600 mink from their pens. Normally farmers manage to retrieve a lot of their animals following such attacks, but this time there was another danger: the mink were new mothers, and the lives of their tiny kits were put at great risk due to the cold temperature and their need to feed constantly.