Take a stand, let the fur fly

Kevin Cowherd

January 16, 1991|By Kevin Cowherd

DEVOTED, long-time readers of this column often ask: "Ken, why have you consistently failed to articulate your position on the wearing of fur?"

First of all, the name is Kevin. And as far as my position on fur is concerned, well, I . . . I don't really have a position, although if push came to shove I suppose I could come up with some sort of half-baked . . .

OK. For the record, I have no problem with people wearing fur -- as long as the fur in question meets certain, uh, specific criteria, which will now be spelled out.

(Understand, that I myself do not own a fur coat, owing to a finely honed moral code as well as an annual income which compares favorably to that of a fourth-grader operating a sidewalk lemonade stand.

(So you animal rights people are wasting your time if you stage a demonstration in front of my house. Besides, with these 12-hour workdays and my second job down at the loading dock, I probably won't be home anyway.)

But I think it's OK to wear fur if (and this is the key phrase) the animal in question does not mind giving up its fur.

Take minks, for instance. There is a sense of nihilism in the mink community, from what I'm told, a sort of oh-what's-the-use? mentality that has made these animals perfect victims (or stooges, if you prefer) for the fur industry.

On these mink ranches that you hear so much about, the minks basically sit around on their bunk beds (there may be a more technical term) and stare out the window and wait for the lights to go out -- permanently, if you catch my drift.

As prisoners, you'd think they'd spend most of their time securing maps of the surrounding area, organizing escape committees, forging identification papers, that sort of thing.

Anthropomorphism? Maybe. But these minks, they don't even try to escape. They accept the fact that a few months down the road, they'll be part of a $5,000 floor-length coat hanging from a rack at Macy's with one of those security wires attached to it. It's not a cheery thought, no, but they can handle it.

Oh, sure, once in a while you might see one of these minks slap its forehead with its paw in a sort of why-me? gesture. But by and large, they are relentlessly stoic about their fate, or so I'm told by a friend who worked at a zoo once.

Or maybe he just visited the zoo once, I forget. Nevertheless, he seemed to know what he was talking about.

(This is probably neither here nor there, but the mink is not exactly beloved throughout the animal kingdom for its swell personality, either.

(As a member of the weasel family -- that tells you something right there -- it is a vicious hunter known to kill far more than it can eat. If you've ever seen a chicken coop after a mink has visited, it looks like someone lobbed two sticks of dynamite through the door. Feathers here, bones there . . . Lord, it's a mess.

(So when a mink is led away for its fur, you won't find the other animals dabbing at their eyes with a Kleenex, is what I'm saying.)

I also don't have a problem with wearing fur if the animal who provided the fur died of, ahem, natural causes.

Let's talk about the silver fox here. I don't think any civilized human being wants to see a cute little fox caught in a trap or gunned down by some jittery hunter with 17 cups of coffee in him who starts spraying the underbrush with lead if he hears a twig snap.

But let's say the fox were to, oh, wander a little too close to someone's farm one evening. Through no fault of his own, you understand, just because of his inquisitive nature and because there is a henhouse on the property, which, to a fox, is the equivalent to seeing a sign: "BUFFET -- ALL U CAN EAT -- $2.95."

But let's say something goes terribly wrong this time. Let's say the farmer is waiting for the fox, crouched in a corner of the henhouse with a thermos full of coffee and a shotgun. As the fox tears into his first hen, the farmer opens fire. The fox panics (stay with me here) and jumps out the window and . . . and falls into a . . . a well or something. Deader than a doornail.

Well. If somebody gets some kind of wrap out of the deal, more power to 'em.

So this is where I stand on the whole complicated issue of fur. Some may call it an uneven, which-way-is-the-wind-blowing stance, but I call it a thoughtful, enlightened policy for our time.

The time being, let's see, 10:49 a.m.

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