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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?

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

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.

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