Sunday, September 22, 2013

West Hollywood bans the sale of fur. So?

Yesterday West Hollywood's "fur ban" went into effect, to the delight of some animal advocates. However, a closer look at the "fur ban" shows that it's not such a big deal.

The "ban" means that wearing apparel made from animal skins with the fur, wool, or hair still attached cannot be sold in West Hollywood.

Other items made from fur which are not used for wearing apparel are not banned.

Animal skins from which the hair has been removed (i.e. leather, suede) are not banned.

People in West Hollywood are still allowed to wear fur, they just can't sell it.

Retailers who disregard the ban will have to pay a small fine ($250 to $850).

Really, this "ban" is so narrow in its reach I am reminded of Gary Francione's satirical "No Factory-Farmed Small Fish Friday".

So, how is this a win for animals? Will the number of animals killed be affected at all?

At best, some retailers who sell fur will have to relocate their businesses—although some may decide they'd rather pay the fines.

People in West Hollywood who want to buy fur can easily do so, by travelling to a neighbouring city or by shopping onine, although I wonder how much of a demand for fur clothing there ever was in West Hollywood, when they never have snow and their average January low is a mild 9°C.

West Hollywood City Council says on their page about the ban that the ban will "raise awareness" about cruelty to animals and is consistent with their "reputation as a Cruelty Free Zone for animals".

To me, this ordinance is just a way for people in West Hollywood to feel good about being allegedly cruelty free, without having to make any of the significant lifestyle changes (i.e., becoming vegan) that truly being cruelty free would involve. I don't oppose the fur "ban", but I do think it is too narrow in scope to be worth celebrating. I also wonder how much money Last Chance for Animals spent on this campaign, and how many animals could have been saved by putting that money into vegan advocacy, or an animal sanctuary?

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