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Mrs McCartney and the Chinese Fur Trade

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  • Mrs McCartney and the Chinese Fur Trade

    Something that's horrified me for some years has been the trade in the fur of animals we consider as domestic pets, chiefly cats and dogs. How that fur is obtained and where (chiefly China) is an important issue to me.
    Heather Mills McCartney, married to Paul McCartney, wrote a very telling piece in the latest New Statesman, which I'm reproducing here. The very least any of us can do, these days, is to boycott this trade.

    HEATHER MILLS MCCARTNEY
    New Statesman Diary
    13th December 2004


    ''A dog is for life," the advert proclaims, "not just for Christmas." How about a dog's fur - or even a cat's? Because that is exactly what thousands of Brits will be buying their loved ones this Christmas, and almost none of them will realise . . .

    Because of a customs classification loophole, thousands of mislabelled furs are making their way into the UK from China. There our furry friends are kept in refrigerators to thicken their fur, before being pierced with a metal rod and hung up by the neck as the blood drips from their agonised bodies; all this to ensure their pelt is in pristine condition to be worn by some insecure fashion diva who's so unhappy in her own skin that she has to wear a dog's (even though she thinks it's mink, sable, fox or rabbit).

    Our western psyche prides itself on its deeply ingrained love of animals. Elvis Presley's song to his old dog Shep continues to reduce people to tears; and generations of children have asked: "How much is that doggy in the window, the one with the waggly tail?" We love tales of the loyal friend saving a drowning child or an injured man, or soothing a heartbroken wife.

    Promoting the wearing of fur is just as sick as buying it. Women's magazines editors are all telling us that fur is back in fashion - so they can be held personally responsible for the slaughter of thousands of animals, alongside the hypocritical supermodels Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell, who all promoted the Peta "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" campaign in the early 1990s, only to join the long list of turncoats.



    Much of December has sadly been spent discussing with lawyers whether I should sue the Sunday Times Magazine, after it published an extraordinary article libelling me and my charity work. I heard it had called upon the usual suspects as "proof"; but the subsequent fantastic support from friends and colleagues from all stages of my life, who, unprompted, have offered to tell the real story, has been truly overwhelming.



    And this month I've discovered a new hobby - my bruised and aching body bears testament to my working hard all week with my wing chun kick-boxing teacher. No, I haven't gone insane. It struck me - after a girlfriend was recently held at knifepoint while her valuables were violently stripped from her body - that a metal leg might well come in handy at full force in the gonads of some unsuspecting, knife-wielding coward. Unfortunately, in practice, I misjudged and decked my instructor!



    This month, the Nairobi landmine summit was held, which made us all euphoric. The 23 non-signatory countries, including China, Russia and the US, all attended. That shows huge promise for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which has gathered 144 state party signatories in just seven years, a huge achievement that few believed possible. It shows what can be done when a group of like-minded people get together and focus on the issue of clearing the world of landmines.



    Which leads me back to the waggly tail . . . the one I saw on a loving German shepherd being pulled out of a sack, before he stiffened and cowered, his tail between his legs. I will never forget the horror on his face as he was tied up and skinned alive in front of other terrified dogs whimpering in the corner. These animals are abused purely for our consumption here in the west; only the poorest of the poor eat dog and cat now in China. The US has banned their import, as have some EU countries, so sales have shifted to the UK to make up for lost revenue.

    Asian merchants told Humane Society undercover investigators that they would give up the business immediately if there was a ban, rather than risk high-end exports being banned as a punishment. So get your act together, European Commission; while you are dilly-dallying around, your dog or cat may be next in line. Dogs and cats have no voice. We do. They have no choice. We do. Choose not to wear fur and you will contribute towards diminishing the market for which two million innocent dogs and cats are slaughtered every year.


    This article first appeared in the New Statesman. For the latest in current and cultural affairs subscribe to the New Statesman print edition.

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses


  • #2
    I completely sympathize with your concern, as I feel the same way.
    It seems to be an arbitrary cultural phenomenon as to which animal lives are expendable for human pleasure and which are not.
    I have to ask, why is use of the skin of a cow, pig or a chicken more acceptable than that of a dog or a cat?

    Comment


    • #3
      Pretty horrid :x I've seen some cat toys for sale which actually look suspiciously as though they're, erm, made of cat. I think some of this stuff also comes from Europe.

      I've a friend whose parents come from China. She says her mum just can't understand why she keeps a pet cat, and is always mentally sizing it up for the pot. But I don't think that Westerners can really criticise the Chinese as long as we're doing vivisection for cosmetics, and buying these products, of course.
      \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

      Comment


      • #4
        It's a fine point, I know, but if we are going to kill animals (or people) the method and the context require discussion. I am temperamentally of a Buddhist persuasion and would love to live in an ideal world where we don't kill to live, but the chances of achieving such a world are pretty slim, whereas it IS possible to rally public sentiment around such issues as the trade in the fur of domestic pets. It might not deal with the whole problem, but it at least deals with part of it. I've never been an absolutist, because that CAN be a way of avoiding doing the things we ARE capable of doing. We might not be able to stop people eating meat and wearing leather, but we can ensure that old donkeys live out their lives in some kind of happiness. We even subscribe to that elephant sanctuary in Tennessee. You're talking to the guy who believes that every time we eat squid, we're essentially consuming a creature which is the Einstein of the ocean. I've even be known to take a cockroach and carefully release it into the wild... When I do have to kill one, I tell myself the cockroach contains the soul of a cat-killer. Might not do much for the roach, but it relieves my conscience a little. It's how we keep
        going, after all, in this existential world...

        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
        The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
        Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
        The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
        Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

        Comment


        • #5
          Yes, this is a huge problem. Remember the decapitated cats of southwest London? There is also evidence of cats disappearing for their fur in London: seemingly reappearing as gloves. It's hard to distinguish reality from urban myth, but there is definitely some trade over here, too. There was (of course) much suspiscion that the culprits were 'immigrants' - E. Europeans were the target this time, I think. Very similar story to 'Johnny Foreigners are capturing and eating swans!' hysteria last year (a myth that has been a perennial fave since the Middle Ages, it transpires). Whatever the degree of domestic pet fur trading, there is certainly an increasingly level of 'petnapping' - deliberate pet-pinching for reward! Monstrous.
          The most important things are of course (a) Don't buy it - regardless of source [it is rarely a by-product]; (b) Tell everyone else not to buy it; (c) Don't hesitate to express your disgust in deference to any PC inclination to not offend people - when you're talking about non-human life, religion and culture must be secondary. It is one of the greatest evils of humanity that we have imposed our ludicrous misconceptions on other species.

          Comment


          • #6
            We lost a cat once in a spate of disappearances. Dogfighting is a possible cause. The vile practice is to set the dogs on to cats to give them a taste for blood. To prevent them from being scratched, the cats' claws are pulled out first.
            I was reading the other day how Prince Harry's (or was it the other one) girlfriend's father is in with Mugabe's crowd in Zimbabwe, and runs big game tours where you can kill a leopard for آ£1,600. This top of the range; zebras, giraffes etc. come cheaper. Can you imagine the mentality? It's that same old sick taste for power we've been discussing elsewhere, I suppose.
            \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

            Comment


            • #7
              Yep. Big Game Goons. I think the real geeks are those who need to kill or otherwise harm something to feel good about themselves. And it is, I'm convinced, very much connected with sexual abuse and violence against women (and/or domestic pets). Thank god we've got Viagra these days. In some cases at least it must save a fortune in sawdust (for the blood) and therefore probably saves a tree as well as a life. Nothing more pathetic than the whining of a frustrated fox-hunter or some oaf who has egged on his pit bull to the point where someone has to put it down.

              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Perdix
                Very similar story to 'Johnny Foreigners are capturing and eating swans!' hysteria last year (a myth that has been a perennial fave since the Middle Ages, it transpires).
                Actually, that was me. I'd been turned down by the BBC again, and the swans were laughing at me and... well, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

                Not really of course, I'm a friend to animals... well, I don't kill and eat them anyway. I even usher spiders out through of the bathroom window if I can. I'm also vaguely proud to say that Dorset is the home of Monkey World, a retirement home for unfortumate primates rescued from abusive or negligent owners. It isn't the most fascinating place to spend an afternoon, but they're doing good work so bless them for that... curiously it's just a short drive from a tank museum, where families can go to feast their eyes on armoured death machines! I wonder which is the most popular attraction?

                Obviously the trade in any fur is a horrible thing, full stop... although I do own leather shoes and a suede jacket, so I'm not going to be throwing too many stones at glass houses.
                "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks for the article, MM. As a qualifier, many people know that I don't eat meat and wear and use very little leather, so take my bleeding heart into account... :D I always get very sad when I pass a cattle truck on the highway. Seriously. The "food with faces" thing really affects me. I don't say this to distract from this thread. I've discussed my choices (and others') at length on several different threads.

                  Disregarding my personal beliefs, there are also social differences that account for way we perceive the slaughter of cats and dogs differently than the slaughter of other animals, part of which relates to the uses for which humanity domesticated them (and I realize that cats acually domesticated themselves). Cross-culturally, they were domesticated as herders and mousers, for instance, while cattle were domesticated for food. When you add this to their social and personal significance as companion animals, especially in the west, you can account for some of the different perceptions of cats and dogs. I have a cat on the back of my chair as I write this. Thinking of her as a pair of gloves is beyond mortifying to me. What was it that MM said about context?

                  Regardless of all of that, the nature of the slaughter that is truly offensive. People demonstrate their complete lack of value for life in some of the ways that they kill. If their is, indeed, a humane way to kill, the fur trade doesn't employ it. Neither do the people in the dogfighting circles. Neither to the people who hunt on big game ranches. I read that there is a place here in Texas that will soon be offering a virtual big game hunt. You pay to enter a website with a live webcam attached to a rifle. When you sight in a wild animal, you push a button to acticate the trigger. You don't even have to be there to see something die--and consequently take none of the responsibility.

                  All of these practices say something about humanity that I'm not sure I like at all. You can feed me all of the "we're really just animals" crap that you want, but you'll never convince me that our humanity requires us to be different. It doesn't just allow us to be different. That is certainly a collective enterprise.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I used to be one of Manchester & Leeds RSPCA's veterinary 'Expert Witnesses'. For obvious reasons, I won't go into details about the cases, but we won them all. And got a couple of custodial sentences, which is disgustingly rare. It is time The Law reflected the horror of such crimes. I know it's a terrible cliche, but I'd shoot 'em...really.

                    I know what you mean re: the hunting inadequacy. Goes with the Ferraris. I don't have a problem with hunting per se - we are biological killers, but it's the demonstrative display of violent dominance and the lack of empathy with another living being that bothers me. Somehow, in my philosophy, its worse with non-humans than with people! I feel as if we should be more careful with the other species than with ourselves...they are somehow more innocent than even the best of us. Can't help it, it's instinctive. And I like people, too!

                    I know I'm a bit weird, but you know those stories about air crashes in the high Andes, and everyone eats the dog, then the rats, then cockroaches, etc? And only at the point of death do they think about cooking up the expired humans?

                    Well....

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      As a ridiculous pet owner (who loves her dog, Lexie, as much as my child and treats her as a family member) the thought of the treatment of animals for luxury is infuriating, sickening, beyond upsetting. But what can I do? What can one person in New York, who doesn't buy fur (and doesn't know ANYONE who buys fur) do?

                      Also, I do not like the tactics of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.) I feel they are extreme and possibly detrimental to the cause of saving animals pain and saving their lives.

                      What can I do?

                      Thank you for posting this, Mr. Moorcock.

                      --Kristine

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You are most definitely not ridiculous, Poetgrrl! 'Pets' are family members - since a child, I have never been able to comprehend the insistence that some people have to 'segregate' their otherwise beloved animals...It's got a lot to do with Christianity, with its (at least, former) emphasis on the divinity of the human species and the soullessness of animals. Dammit, I even had to euthanase an elderly cat a few months ago and the moment the cat had died (very peacefully) the owner said: 'Oh, well, it's not as if it (IT!!!) had a soul...'. It was all I could do to stay civil... I just want to get a big megaphone and yell out: 'Misguided fools! We are apes! APES! (and we probably dissipate into the ether when we snuff it, too) So there!' :)

                        Seriously, there is plenty you can do: I agree that the actions and rhetoric of some organisations do tend to have a negative effect (I remember the ALF trying to blow up my Physiology professor at college - we'd been trying something similar for years) but if you are careful with the groups that you join and support, then you CAN have an effect. As with anything, it is standing by inactive that leads to hopelessness. The very fact that you are bringing up your child with a loved animal is probably the best thing you can do to influence the plight of animals in future generations.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Perdix
                          'Pets' are family members
                          This is why I think the theft and abuse of cats (and dogs) should be treated as a crime of great severity. OK, objectively considered the keeping of companion animals is a somewhat bizarre, even decadent phenonemon, but the reality in our society is that they are all that some people, especially the elderly, have, and almost attain the status of a person.

                          Added to which, it is proven that practically all sadistic psychopaths first practised their crimes on animals.
                          \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Ahhh,

                            My disgust with humanity has increased with the reading of this. I have always has little hope for humans and now a portion of that has been dashed. I can only hope it is not destroyed entirely someday.

                            The idea that someone could be have so little feeling for another living thing is beyond my comprehension.

                            :oops:
                            When they had advanced together to meet on common
                            ground, then there was the clash of shields, of spears
                            and the fury of men cased in bronze; bossed shields met
                            each other and the din rose loud. Then there were
                            mingled the groaning and the crowing of men killed and
                            killing, and the ground ran with blood.

                            Homer, The Illiad

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have often postulated that the next 'quantum leap' in human evolution will be in psychosocial development, and principally involve the appearance of 'universal empathy' between humans and other living creatures (including, of course, other humans). 'The Chrysalids' with an ethical emphasis? Deity-oriented religion was a development of similar magnitude, producing the benefits of self-criticism and social cohesion, but with obvious negative side-effects. As a species we will gain true enlightenment and sustainability only when we can begin to step outside of our own skulls and view the consequences of our activities from the perspective of those with whom we share this shrinking planet.

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