Fur

Recently, one of my friends shared a video from PETA of an undercover sting on a Chinese fur farm. PETA is frankly not my favorite welfare organization because they are not above overzealous propaganda but there was one scene in that video that cut the cake for me.

The camera has zoned in on a pile of skinned animals. Since the skin has been removed, you can see the teeth. The throat of the nearest head is pulsing, which indicates respiration; what looks like an anatomical model is breathing. As the head turns slowly and is laid against the side of the body, you can see that its eyes are blinking. One of the eyes still has fur around it, as does one of the forefeet. It continues to blink. Abruptly, the head flops back to where it was at first.

It was eerie.

I don’t know if these animals’ fur is being sold in California but I can tell you that if this is the case, this situation is part of a much larger problem. China is a difficult country to understand in terms of how it operates but what many people that I encounter don’t realize is that this is the dark side of the U.S. and maybe other countries, not China itself.

The U.S. has a nasty habit of giving its dirty jobs to countries when it is more convenient to do so. The reason that the U.S. is not all a horribly contaminated toxic waste bin is that much of our production has been shunted off to different countries. How much of your shit is “Made in China”? Those had to be made by factories. If the factories weren’t in China, they’d be in the U.S.

Do you know why the U.S. is never going to be able power itself on sustainable energy and resource use? Because we ignore the fact that our ecological footprint extends far beyond U.S. borders in both distance and magnitude. China isn’t polluting the air; we are. I don’t even need to investigate or to research or to pull data from anywhere. The proof is in my house, my friend’s house, my neighbor’s house, my cousin’s house: all the clothes and appliances that say, “Made in China.” Even if I wanted to buy all “Made in U.S.A,” I either don’t have access because all the U.S. manufacturers went out of business or I can’t afford it.

The people who skinned that animal don’t know any better. I would be wasting my breath to tell them about nerve receptors and stress response because if they had enough education to understand what I’m talking about, they wouldn’t be working where they are. I’d be wasting my breath to tell them about morality and ethics and animal souls because China is an atheist country. What they do understand is money. That’s the type of country China is. You ask for electronics, they make electronics. You ask for fur, they get you fur. If you don’t put your foot down about how reliable their electronics are or how they get their fur, they’ll do a 1-year warranty job as cheaply as possible.

For starters, we need to do our part in ending fur import.

I want to stress that it is not necessarily the fur trade itself but industrialization of the fur trade, where it became an assembly line business, that is hurting individual animal welfare. American beef, American leather: we’re always going to use animal products and I don’t think it’s entirely a bad thing. There’s a difference between assembly line production and quality craftsmanship. If someone had a herd of cattle, killed one for butchery (beef), and sold the skin to a tanner or similar craftsman, who made shoes or a purse out of it, I would have no problem with buying those shoes or that purse. I don’t approve of fox farms but if they kept their foxes in a barn instead of a wire cage and shot their foxes in the head instead of skinning them alive, I would probably not be too upset about fur. I don’t like fur terribly much as an ornament but I like the feel and the insulation: but not enough to buy inhumanely produced fur.

Don’t buy real fur unless you have the resources to trace it backwards and make sure that the animal was [raised and] killed in a way that is acceptable to you.

Don’t throw paint at people who are wearing fur or leather. For all you know, they could be wearing fake fur or fair trade, ethically raised and manufactured leather, and they could be trying to help fix the industry in their own ways. If it bothers you, just ask politely and discuss politely. The best way to get someone on your side is to convince them that you’re on their side.

Spread the word about fake fur and how wonderfully realistic it is. I know, I have some. It’s amazingly soft, it looks fabulous, and it wasn’t taken off of a living animal. It might not be as warm as real fur but it’s an A+ alternative for people who like fur for the look and feel.

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