Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Animal Odds & Ends

There is a great interview with actress, comedienne and animal lover Betty White on USA Today's website. Have a look if you get a chance. Betty is saint-like when it comes to her love of animals and she has been an advocate on their behalf for decades. She has been receiving a lot of accolades lately, including a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award earlier this year, presented to her by pal and costar Sandra Bullock. Whenever Betty is recognized for her achievements, she always makes sure to give a plug for the animals that she loves so much. It is so great to see such a kind-hearted soul being honored - not just for her distinguished career in film and television, but for her tireless work on behalf of animals.

Figure skater Johnny Weir says he is spooked by threats from animal rights activists over his love of fur. Anti-fur activists have been bombarding him with all kinds of hate mail and complaints because he wore white fox fur on his outfit at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. (Source) "'Crazy Fur People' Force Weir's Hand," said a Reuters headline. A frustrated Weir told The Advocate magazine: "It's a dirty business, but it's a business; someone has to do it ... I appreciate a beautiful fur coat, I appreciate products made out of animals. I eat steak, I wear ice skates made out of leather. I have Ugg boots, so I guess I'm wearing sheep. I just don't like how animal groups go crazy about a fox or a beaver but say nothing about cows dying for shoes. They always seem to pick the cutest animals." (Source) Threatening Weir is an awful move and the animal rights movement would be wise to stay away from such counterproductive tactics. At the same time, Weir did recently announce that "faux fur" because he doesn't want the issue to undermine his chances of winning a medal. So the heavy-handed pressure tactics, while highly problematic in so many ways, did have the desired effect. Proving once again that militancy has its drawbacks and strengths.

Speaking of violence and the animal rights movement, my hero Gary Francione has a column on the website Opposing Views that is well worth your time to read. If you get a chance, please have a look at it. Like everything else Francione writes, this piece is thoughtful, brilliantly argued, and raises a number of crucial points. No wonder so many people consider Francione the greatest spokesperson for the cause of animal rights and animal liberation today. His no-nonsense wisdom is refreshing and always to the point. The movement is lucky to have such a figure at its helm.

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