The animal rights movement of today is quickly moving in the direction of a radical theocracy. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
by Will Coggin
Earlier this week, the Los Angeles City Council voted to move forward with a potential ban on the sale and manufacturing of any products using natural fur. The move follows pressure from animal rights activists, who have campaigned for decades with stunts such as throwing red paint on people wearing fur coats. Unfortunately, Los Angeles’ move merely ensures that the next bucket of paint is aimed squarely at the rest of us.
|The fur ban is based on a simple premise: People don’t need to wear fur, so therefore it should be banned because a small section of society doesn’t like it. This anti-consumer choice mentality can be easily expanded to intrude in other areas of our lives.
Unless you’re one of the one-half of one percent of Americans who live a full vegan lifestyle, animal rights groups like PETA and the Humane Society of the United States have a problem with you. Fur is just the tip of the iceberg.
Next, you could be banned from buying a leather belt or shoes, cashmere sweaters, wool suits, or silk ties. All come from animals and all have some sort of synthetic alternative that does not.
|Unless you’re one of the one-half of one percent of Americans who live a full vegan lifestyle, animal rights groups like PETA and the Humane Society of the United States have a problem with you. Fur is just the tip of the iceberg.|
It doesn’t stop with our choice of attire. Animal rights activists argue that no one “needs” to enjoy a hamburger, omelet, or ice cream because there are (much less tasty) vegan alternatives like tofu burgers and soy cheese.
Appreciate visiting the zoo with your kids? Animal activists call zoos “prisons” and want them shut down. (You can watch YouTube videos instead.) Enjoy owning a pet? PETA’s against that, too. (Except, presumably, pet rocks.)
It’s “all or nothing” with these folks, and only a miniscule portion of the population can appease their moral sanctimony.
And once activists accomplish a goal, they don’t support the change they helped to implement. They simply move the goalposts.
For example, it has been over a decade since veal farmers tethered their animals as a matter of practice, after animal rights activists pressured for change. But you don’t see PETA employees ordering “humanely raised” veal scaloppini to celebrate the change.
Similarly, the Humane Society of the United States spent tens of millions of dollars trying to eliminate cages from egg farms and even succeeded in banning California grocery stores from selling conventionally raised eggs. But don’t expect the group to offer cake made with cage-free eggs at its next glitzy Hollywood gala. As policy, the organization’s functions never serve animal products, no matter how humanely they’re raised.
The inside joke of the animal rights movement is that no one can escape its self-righteous wrath without a full and complete commitment to a vegan lifestyle. Restaurants, retailers, and city councils have capitulated to animal rights pressure campaigns with the hope of appeasing picketers or avoiding bad press, but they are simply emboldening unreasonable fringe activism.
Chipotle brags about how it serves crate-free pork (when their suppliers can produce enough), but Bay Area franchises have been protested by vegan activists. Gucci, the high-end fashion house, recently announced it was eliminating fur from their collection—but it still uses alligator skin and leather liberally in its lines. Does Gucci really take issue with the specific practices of fur farms, or is the company simply trying to appease a small group of anti-choice militants who will come for their other products soon enough? (For the record, fur farms are run just like other farms—by farmers who make their living raising healthy animals.)
At its core, the animal rights movement wants to impose its morals and its unique religion (if you will) on everyone else. It gets to decide what are sins and who are the sinners, and what it takes to buy an indulgence.
America has always been a place of religious tolerance, but the animal rights movement of today is quickly moving in the direction of a radical theocracy. While they are free to preach, they don’t have the right to make choices for everyone. The L.A. City Council shouldn’t, either.
Will Coggin is the managing director of the Center for Consumer Freedom.
Originally appeared in the September 26 issue of the Washington Examiner