Monday, January 26, 2015

Social Media - Dialog - and The Fur Trade ????

Appreciating Culture and Difference
Guys can I bring a BBQ when I visit:) 

Open Letter to Stephen Forbes

Dear Stephen,

I am somewhat of a neophyte to the Social Media space, that is to say, I have had extended exposure but only recently taken a more intensive interest in its use. This morning a number of comments came through on email announcements in relation to a comment I had made on one of your posts regarding the use of fur. My exact comments are unavailable to me now due to the functionality of Facebook and I believe your “unfriending”, although as I say, I am unsure of the technical aspects of the forum.  So the following comment is based on the assumption, that due to my views, you have chosen to exclude me from any further discussion through your Facebook page on any subject, and specifically the use of fur. 

Firstly, Stephen, when you engage the world on a subject such as the use of fur, a subject that is matter of controversy, you should expect there will be opposing comment; or rather people who want to share their point of view in varying degrees of difference. In fact, is it good to expose oneself to other views, it offers opportunity to open the mind. Secondly, and remember the premise of these comments, it is patently unfair to offer comment on an individual’s views, and or, of analysis of an individual and then cut off that person’s access to debate. Thirdly, Stephen, in stifling association with me on this subject, you stifle an overall association with me based on my views of a single issue – I have more to offer, and on the issue at hand perhaps some moderating influence may help find a rational way forward. The attempt to narrow dialog in any form is unhealthy, and can contribute to a concentration of “opposing narratives” RATHER than a broadening of view of all parties – from here fanaticism emerges. It may be apropos to use a Winston Churchill quote on the subject of fanaticism given the recent anniversary of his death, “a fanatic is someone who refuses to change their mind and never changes the subject”, Stephen you've encountered a fanatic about fair play and complete discourse.  

The use of fur appears too many as a distasteful and cruel process, the photos you offered in support of your position were specifically intended to excite outrage in a population unaccustomed to seeing the less pleasant side of harvesting animals for human use. As a child I remember seeing a National Geographic magazine picture of Inuit children up to their necks in an animal kill, covered in blood eating raw meat, with big smiles – they were unoffended by the prospect because the life’s conditioning had associated raw meat and blood with a good day. There is no more horrific death, than an animal killed by wolves for example, they first hamstring that animal and then begin to eat it – a very dismal prospect, but an act of “nature” none the less – please note the wolves think it is ok. The point I am making and the point made in my comments to you, is that, through media functionality you are attempting to change the view of fur use by the population general; and the change attacks the fundamental cultural underpinnings of many minorities in our society and to a degree, you are attacking my and many others in general in western society. There is legitimacy in your concerns, however, it is the nihilism in your comments and many in “your movement” that is concerning.  

January 25 at 9:54am
I'm always intrigued by the use of peoples wording as well. Often the "way" people say certain things reveal a lot more about what they are thinking. The very fact that Neil refers to it as "humanely dispatched" instead of killing, signifies to me that he feels fundamentally it IS wrong, which is why he tries to word it in such a politically correct, sugar coated way. If he said my family and I killed and murdered animals to make mink coats, I'm sure it would bother him. When fundamentally, especially to that animal, its the exact same thing.

It is always dangerous to speculate on the thoughts of another person, because you’re only playing with half the deck, had you responded with questions Stephen, and permitted response, I would have been able to clarify for you. I am absent any moral impediment for the humane use of animals for food, work and shelter. I share your interest in horses; there is no finer relationship than accomplishing a day’s work together with a horse. The perceptions of the contemporary body general around the use for animals for fur has become “radicalized” do a degree, the discourse that ensued out of our exchange is to a lesser degree emblematic to other societal discourse in society at large – the painting of fur coats in airports for example.  So to clarify, at age seven years, I killed mink to be skinned, so the pelts could be sold, the fat was used for cosmetics and the livers were used for vitamin K I believe. It was my job to collect the livers, bag and freeze them and the proceeds were mine to spend. This sounds a pretty gruesome prospect to a group of people lounging over a latte’ in a 2015 in an urban center, I was however, proud of what I could do, much like the Inuit Children. So at the point of execution I believed what I was doing was more than right, it was good. The sugar coating you refer to, which stands in contrast to your “shock and awe” photos, was applied in an effort to engage people holding a view that challenges my conditioning in a tactful way. My views have evolved, or have been affected by the points delivered from the animal rights community, however, I do stand firm on the use of animals as has been done for centuries – with the proviso, that it continues in as humane a fashion as possible. The challenge is the anthropomorphic inclinations of some in your camp; animals are different than us, which is my belief and the belief of the entire western world in varying degrees. This in large measure finds its origins in the theological separation of humans as having souls and animals absent spiritual consideration in the Christian faith.        

January 25 at 9:27am
I have full respect for first nations people, such as the Inuit, that rely on animals as a source of survival. The reality is that the vast majority of people (for example, less than 2% of the populaton in Ontario is first nations, and of that 2%, only 4% of those are inuit) are not needing to kill animals as a means to survive anymore. The vast majority of people living in developed countries are buying fur, not as a means of survival, but as a grotesque fashion display. And I can be sure that The Bay, and its Fur Salon Trunk Show are not trying to sell pieces to the Inuits for them to survive. In our day and age, for most of us in our developed countries, its become a choice, no longer a necessity.

The use of fur is in no way isolated to the Inuit, there was a generalized use of animals across the full first nations’ spectrum. It is interesting to me that you offer discourse around fur and first nations as a means of survival, when, in the past 400 years, a substantive piece of history, the primary consideration for the harvesting of fur was commercial. Prior to the Animal Rights complex effecting a reduction in fur use, the “modern” first nations’ people trapped and sold fur for the urban markets, this was a source of prosperity for them, allowed them to do more than subsist, it permitted real earned income in remote sections of the country where other opportunity is limited. The absence of the fur market has been very detrimental to many in the first nations, regardless of the degree of validity of your assertions.   

January 25 at 1:30pm

Shannon Cebuliak I am a bit are saying that using leather is just the same as buying fur from an ethical standpoint? It seems like that is what you are saying but then you say the fur industry is horrible ? I am confused.

January 25 at 1:01pm

Wow, Kelly, Stephen does much more for animals than 99% of the population. Take your own guilt elsewhere. People saying it's their own choice to wear fur are out to lunch. The animals do not have a choice. They are tortured for fashion. Anyone that doesn't see how wrong this is has something wrong with their morals and ethics. At least Stephen is making a extremely conscious effort to cut down on the suffering of this world. Eating a vegan diet, buying cruelty free products and the one thing he does have is a saddle. What do you do??

Stephen, it is clear your family both care for you and share your opinions, so congratulations on that. Kelsey is clearly passionate on the subject. The dialog does indicate just how personal people can get, while I do eat meat and believe in the traditional uses of fur products, anyone dedicated enough to eat a vegan diet is worthy of consideration.


Neil Thomson   
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