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Monthly Archives: August 2013

TOO RADICAL FOR YOU? Third Fur Farm Raid in One Month: 2,000 Mink Released in Illinois

Animal Liberation Frontline (ALF) does what I fantasize about.
Is this too radical for you? A topic for a future post.

Earth First! Newswire

by Peter Young / Animal Liberation Frontline

Local media is reporting 2,000 mink were released on August 14th from a fur farm in Morris, Illinois. Police state they received a call at 5am on August 14th from the farm owned by Bob Dodeghero. 2,000 mink had been released, two trucks had been doused with paint stripper, and a barn had been spray painted with “Liberation is love.”

The farm is one of the smallest mink farms in the country. A farm of its size (as shown in the photo below) is typical of a farm that can hold somewhere in the range of 2,000 animals, making it likely that every animal was freed.

The ALF’s “freedom summer” continues

This is the 6th major US action of the summer, which has seen a horse slaughterhouse arson, two releases of birds from game farms, and three releases of animals from fur farms.

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THE MOSQUITO MODEL: Do petitions work?

THE MOSQUITO MODEL: Do petitions work?.

THE MOSQUITO MODEL: Do petitions work?

FUR FACT: Around 85% of today’s fur comes from FUR FARMS, as compared to trapping. Trapping is no longer pervasive because it is too expensive. Fur farming entails the breeding of certain WILD ANIMALS  in captivity ONLY for their fur.                                                              Too small end a c

For a while after my “aha”experience (post: That Moment of Knowing) I basked in the proud feeling that I was now an animal activist. My motto was  silence is the worst crime. Then I thought, “So now what? Surely I can’t ignore the active in activism?” I knew that patting cats and washing dishes at Cat Village didn’t really count as activism. Besides, I had announced to family and friends that as an animal activist my personal grooming would be compromised, as I would never take time off while animals were suffering.

So my first step was to start a petition. After sifting through numerous sites, this is easy. Not only are on-line petitions free, but claim that the power is one grasp; the user can have a huge impact; change communities and convince people and companies to give up negative attitudes. Also appealing to someone like me, is that “no technical knowledge is needed”. What more could an activist want? Initially I used Care2petitionsite  with my title “Fury at the Fur Trade” because of the “fur” in fury, which in hindsight I realise was a bit obscure. 

The meaning of “activism” started to make sense. To get signatures I had to be active, My starting point was friends and family. Like  a mosquito I buzzed and whined until they signed. Some only signed out of a sense of loyalty and if they could, they would have swatted me (extension of the mosquito metaphor) or at least reported me for harassment.  Then I approached various anti-fur organisations to access their members list and something wonderful  happened. Like-minded people contacted me to offer support and advice.

If you are one of those people I cannot thank you enough for this encouragement. 

But it wasn’t all a feel-good experience. Many people complained that Care2 was now inundating them with e-mails, which they did not want.

I then changed to change.org, which is the petition below and still open for signatures:)

http://www.change.org/petitions/investec-ltd-south-africa-end-your-lease-with-erich-fischer-furriers-and-stop-making-money-from-the-fur-trade

If  you have run an on-line petition, I would love to hear  your experience.

More significant though, was an anti-petition attitude where people would say things like, “petitions don’t work” or “you are wasting your time”.  I heard negative terms like “slacktivism” and “clickerism”.

“Slacktivism” is a combination of the words slacker and activism. It refers to people who support causes without engaging with the real issues. Signing a petition gives them a good feeling, as they have the impression they have contributed.  

“Clickerism” is the trend to sign many petitions, sometimes without reading them. It can turn into a kind of frenzy,  as did the Kony 2012 hysteria.

However, I still believe it takes little effort to click on an on-line petition and who knows, maybe something will come out of it. I will sign most animal rights petitions, as I believe collective action works. We all know the saying “win some and lose some”. What do you think?

For me, starting a petition made me feel less helpless. It became a way of networking with others who fight for animal rights. I felt part of a community and learnt so much from people and reading. What started as a petition turned into an anti-fur campaign, which included other actions. The UK website Animal-Rights-Action.com provides for several strategies and I agree with its statement. Through “… government lobbying, petition signing, letter writing and telephone calling, laws have been changed for the benefit of animals and cruel practices have been ended”.

For example, today I read how attitudes to Bear Bile farming are shifting. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-23633665.

Of course more activism is needed to change this mindset: Chinese Newlyweds Wondering What They’re Going To Do With All This Medicinal Bear Bile (theonion.com)  ]

But most encouraging for me was Slovenia’s ban on farming and hunting animals for their fur (2013).  This was the result of “intensive campaigning, petitioning and educating.

 fur ishistory

OH NO! Jesse Jackson Jr. buys fur items

Breaking news:

Yes, well spotted. I did end my last post with a quote from Jesse Jackson Sr. Then on the same day I posted, this scandal about his son broke. How weird is that?

Jesse Jackson Jr. is the eldest son of  Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr., who was an American civil rights activist and Baptist minister.

Jesse Jackson Jr. admitted Wednesday August 14th,  2013 to embezzling approximately $750,000 from his campaign funds.  While this is shocking in itself he then illegally used the money for personal purchases, including “Michael Jackson memorabilia, fur coats and a Rolex watch”. His wife pleaded guilty to signing off on tax returns, knowing that the couple had under-reported their income.  

Read: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/danieldoherty/2013/08/14/judge-jesse-jackson-jr-receives-30-month-prison-sentence-n1664357

jesse+jackson+jr+getty

What really got to me, though, was the reporter’s comment, “The arrogance and stupidity of using campaign funds to buy frivolous merchandise is simply breathtaking”.

These are the mink and fox fur garments that Jesse Jackson Jr. bought (without the women of course). Thousands of innocent animals would have been brutally killed to make these so-called ” frivolous” items. When will people stop seeing fur items as frivolous!!!  Wearing fur is a moral crime.                                                                              jjrfur3jjfur2jjfur1jj4

Leaders wearing fur: When is it OK?

No, no, no insisted my inner We Love Madiba” voice.  You can’t say anything slightly negative about this wonderful man. Particularly now, when this icon is in such poor health.

However, the reality is that Nelson Mandela was seen in  a fur hat, albeit a long time ago (late 1990s). This fur hat was given to former President Mandela, when he and his foreign affairs minister Alfred Nzo were in Stockholm on a State visit. The temperature during Mandela’s Scandinavian tour was around 0 degrees Celsius or less. Given this set of facts do you think it was acceptable that he wore his present of a fur hat?  While wearing fur is never acceptable I think that in this situation it was OKish for Mandela to wear this gift. 

Nelson Mandela in fur

While on the topic of Nelson Mandela I would like to share my family’s connection with him. If you look in  Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, chapter 5 there is reference to Reverend C.C. Harris. Well, Reverend Harris is my grandfather. This is a photograph of him in his dog collar, which is fortunately not made out of dog fur.

Reverend Harris 1957

BLOG

As an adolescent Rolihlahla, which was Mandela’s original name, attended Clarkebury a Wesleyan missionary school. At that time Clarkebury was the biggest education centre in Tembuland and was considered  the highest institution of learning for Africans in Thembuland. The name Nelson was given to Rolihlahla, as the missionaries could not pronounce the name Rolihlahla (I blush with embarrassment).

According to Mandela , my grandfather Reverend Harris ran the school  “…with an iron hand and an abiding sense of fairness”. You just need to look at the photo to understand the iron fist bit.  It is also  reported that Reverend Harris, was the first white man Mandela ever shook hands with. Little did either of them know what a great leader Nelson Mandela would become and how much Mandela would sacrifice to change South Africa.

It is a totally different scenario with Queen Elizabeth II, who just happened to be the eldest child of King George VI.  Anyway I will keep my anti-royalist sentiments to myself and focus on the queen’s fondness for fur items.  As with the Pope, the Queen’s  official robes for special occasions are trimmed with ermine. This is tradition, many would say! But what about the mink scarf and fox hat and mitts? This is entirely the queen’s choice and animal rights folk, including myself, would say that this is unacceptable in this day and age. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1341860/Queen-Duchess-York-accused-ostentatious-cruelty-fur-hats.html#ixzz2bw9LbMlm

Queen in fur collar queen in fur hat                                                          

It is also traditional for the Pope to wear fur. Pope Benedict XVI wore a red velvet hat trimmed with white ermine fur. This type of hat was commonly worn by popes in the medieval period to keep their heads warm during winter. For special occasions a red velvet , ermine-trimmed cape called a mozetta was worn. Pope Benedict wore this type of cloak.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                pope in fur   

Ermine An ermine in the wild.

Millions of  ermine are bred and farmed under horrendous conditions just to be a fur trim. This is cruel and unnecessary. 

Please sign this petition asking the new Pope to stop wearing fur:   http://www.petitiononline.com/FauxFur/petition.html

This plea might be taken seriously by Pope Francis who is named after the patron saint of animals.  In the name of humility  it seems that “ Solid gold rings, velvet capes and ermine furs are out”, as Pope Francis has shunned Vatican tradition in favour of a simpler life style.  See link: http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style/fashion/pope-francis-shakes-up-vatican-fashion-1.1488818#.UguSpZJgeVJPope Francis also publicly patted a guide dog, which is  not considered ceremonial in the Vatican.                                                                                                                                                                    pope-blesses-dog                         

Leadership cannot just go along to get along. Leadership must meet the moral challenge of the day. —Jesse Jackson

Wearing fur in this day and age is immoral and the banning all fur is one of the challenges of the day.

“FOXY” said the sheep: the power of language

AN APOLOGY FOR THE ANTI- SHEEP LANGUAGE IN MY LAST POST (i.e.sheepish).  According to vocabulary. com, sheep aren’t the smartest most confident creatures. They are meek and docile and always clustering together as  if they’re ashamed to be alone. When you’re sheepish you’re like a sheep – embarrassed or bashful, esp. for having done something wrong or foolish.

There are, however, different opinions. Professor Jenny Morton, a neuroscientist at University of Cambridge, claims that sheep have been greatly undervalued for their intelligence. See link below
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8335465/Sheep- are-far-smarter-than-previously-thought.hs

According to PeTA “sheep are gentle individuals who, like all animals, feel pain, fear, and loneliness. But because there is a market for their fleece and skins, they are treated as nothing more than wool-producing machines”(link below). Not to mention the meat market!       http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/wool-industry.aspx                                                                                                    Peta 

SHEEP ARE GENTLE LOVING CREATURES  sheep      mommy sheep

Given that I live in one of the most aggressive cities in the world, I think MEEK AND DOCILE ARE QUALITIES TO VALUE. Fellow Jo’burgers, imagine a meek taxi driver! Well that is in the same category as “if pigs could fly” or “ if fish could ride bicycles“.  Furthermore, if we looked down on creatures because of their stupidity a fair chunk of the human population would qualify (my friends and family excluded:).

Well, all this rumination (couldn’t resist) about “sheepish” led me to think about the word “foxy”, which is slang for sexy. Others, too have wondered about the word foxy, as indicated by the comment, “I’m foxed by the origins of the expression ‘foxy lady’. My own explanation is that it had something to do with  furs ladies wore that made them look sexy”.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       foxy 

Not to let my learned friends get the better of me, I checked Urban dictionary. com, which states that foxy evolved  from the ancient British word Foxismonitism, meaning attractive or sexually appealing. In other words, foxy refers to women and not foxes. So where did people get the idea that wearing fur is sexy? Clearly from his advertisement below, Fischer is trying to reinforce this idea.                                                                                                faHow sexist and offensive! 

 I can only think that designers, wanting to sell fur garments have promoted this image. What do you think?

For the record, I would rather be seen dead than wearing the skin of any murdered animal, but I do realise wearing a sheepskin jacket to a cocktail party is inappropriate. But wearing a mink or fox stole is totally unacceptable. I have even pledged not to buy woolen garments anymore. PeTA explains why above.

Still on the topic of sheep and foxes. Recently while having breakfast with an acquaintance the topic of fur came up – initiated by me of course. A good way to tell who your true friends are is to constantly talk about one’s particular bugbear (hope this isn’t anti-bug or anti-bear) and see who still calls. I was totally gobsmacked (another favourite word) when this person stated that she had a fox coat and did not see it as a problem given foxes were vermin and killed farmers’ lambs. My instinct was to spit into her cappuccino when I remembered causes are won by good argument and not vulgar acts. To be honest I did not  know what to say other than farmers should fence off their properties better. Also that foxes are in fact omnivores and do eat berries etc.

How would you have argued the point?  The  link below is research published in June 2013 on this issue.

http://www.lhpa.org.au/data/assets/pdf_file/0004/469894/Watts-What-Do-foxes-kill-healthy-lambs_190613.pdf

In any case 85% of furs for commercial use come from fur-farms.  The cruelty in battery-farming foxes is recognised. In 1995 the Sweden’s Animal Protection Ordinance was amended. Foxes were required to be kept in a way that allowed for natural behaviours, such as digging. This legislative change rendered fox farming economically unviable and all Swedish fox farms closed by 2000. Denmark followed suit in 2009 and banned the farming of foxes. The Coalition Against Fur Farms unfortunately has traced numerous fox farms in North America – http://www.coalitionagainstfurfarms.com/

It was the word “vermin” that really got to me. Vermin is a term commonly applied to small predators—typically because they consume resources which humans consider theirs, such as livestock and crops. It seems that by labeling animals as vermin it gives certain people the right to exterminate them.

There are some days when I have to agree with Agent Smith from the Matrix        (a Science Fiction film for those who only watch Jane Austen)

Agent Smith, It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet “.

                                                                                                        
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