Sunday, December 7, 2008

Fur-Free Friday

A local animal rights group has posted photographs on its website of an anti-fur demonstration outside a Neiman Marcus store on last month’s Black Friday—a day that PETA calls “Fur-Free Friday.” The photographs show motivated and well-meaning participants holding up signs admonishing the use of fur. Such protests take place every year in cities across the US on this first official day of the holiday shopping season. But noticeably absent at these events is any mention of leather, wool, or veganism. By focusing solely on fur, the campaigns imply by omission that leather is okay, wearing wool is not a problem, and that eating animals is an entirely different issue not worth addressing.

Campaigning for animal rights without mentioning veganism is like demonstrating for marriage equality without acknowledging the existence of gay and lesbian couples. When resources are limited one must understandably prioritize, but in a manner that is rational and most effective. It doesn’t make sense to focus on relatively minor uses of animals such as fur, or elephants in circuses, while many billions of animals are still being killed and carved up every year for food. Particularly when those minor issues are presented outside the larger context of morality-based veganism. Breaking up and diluting the vegan message fundamentally changes it, leaving both the general public and many animal advocates confused and missing the point.