Johnny Can Weir Fur

Okay, so the Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir has been getting death threats because of his decision to continue wearing costumes with fur trim. I won’t get too much into the politics of whether wearing fur is ethical or non-ethical. I don’t wear fur and think it’s a bit ridiculous, but that’s my opinion and personal taste. I don’t think animals should be killed solely for their fur, but where do you draw the line?

I know people who don’t think it’s right to kill animals for their meat. (One could argue it’s ethical if the killing is done to control overpopulation and every part of the dead animal is used rather than wasted; on the other hand, one could argue killing animals (unless another life is in danger) is never ethical.) Is wearing fur okay if the animal’s meat is also eaten? How would you know? Is it that easy to tell, from a distance, if something is made from real as opposed to faux fur? Besides, other than those gaudy fur outfits that retain the animals’ heads and tails, how can one distinguish between clothing made from fur shed by animals, clothing taken from already dead animals, and fur taken from animals specifically killed for their fur?

Okay, that’s my two cents regarding the ethical / unethical debate. My focus, for this blog, is on the death threats. Yes, it’s ridiculous for activists promoting life in one regard to threaten death in another (are you listening, crazed anti-abortionists who threaten to kill abortion doctors or women who seek abortions when you’re supposed to be pro life?). I don’t really think that’s up for debate by reasonable people.

However, I’m wondering who is responsible for these particular threats to Johnny Weir. Sure, a small group of extremist animal-rights folks (or even a group) could be responsible. I certainly don’t think it’s anyone representing a mainstream animal-rights group.

But I wonder if it’s anyone truly supporting animal rights. Yes, you can call this Conspiracy Theory: Animal Rights Edition. Scoff or outright laugh, if you must. But here goes: What if the person or people responsible are part of a group that likes to incite animosity? The most recent threats against Weir were featured in an ESPN online article and an AP release, both of which were picked up by search engines. After reading the articles, I looked at some of the discussion boards connected to them. It was not surprising to see the comments: some supporting Weir, some attacking Peta, some attacking Weir’s presumed sexual orientation. Some of these comments, I’m sure, were genuine; others, written by individual idiots who like to be idiots on discussion boards.

But, I’ll argue that several were probably planted, to push particular buttons and pit groups against one another. I think the letters to Weir serve this purpose too. I think they are phony threats and that the people responsible are sitting back enjoying the attention that the letters have gotten. They want to appear to be radical animal-rights activists, when in reality they don’t give a crap about animal rights. They want to appear as activists so that people already inclined to dislike Peta, and like-minded organizations, can get their dander up and respond with disdain (or even outrage) over animal-rights groups and any other group they deem liberal or left-wing.

They post crap on discussion boards to continue to stir the pot. They send emails out that travel around through cyberspace for years. They write blogs about which other blogs are written until the original blogs are treated as unbiased source material instead of editorials. And they accomplish something remarkable: into the Mass of Apathy that characterizes so much of Modern Society, they pull out a few folks who they can mold into right-wing hate mongers and they release them back into the world to wreak whatever havoc they can.

Some of these individuals are able to blend in and appear to be charismatic, sensible, intelligent, and reasonable people. They tap into the disappointment and hardships experienced by the masses and cleverly manipulate incidents, statements, and policies to turn the masses against so-called “radical agendas”. The masses don’t tip all the way over, though, being balanced by their own need to straddle the middle and by folks who think differently.

But it doesn’t matter. The masses don’t need to go all the way to the right; they need to just be prevented from going too far to the left. That ensures that real change will rarely take place, that the Haves will continue to have and the Have Nots will continue to be pitted against one another.

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