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The Independent should take some alpha taxonomy lessons December 26, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Media.
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From the Independent: P Diddy rapped for selling coats made from dog pelts

It really pisses me off when the mainstream press gets its facts so wrong, or worse, manipulates facts to further its own arbitary, self-righteous agenda. The article has tabloid-esque sub-titles like “Price of fur: Dogs are skinned alive

The racoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) is less of a dog than are wolves (wolves and dogs both are Canis lupus) or jackals (which are also of the genus Canis). If a racoon dog is a dog, so are foxes, which are also canines. The “racoon dog” is well known in Japan where the species is indigenous and is known as the tanuki. I don’t think any Japanese think the tanuki is a dog.

Both the tanuki and the dog (and wolves, jackals, foxes and other) are of the family Canidae. If we are look at humans, we belong to the family Hominidae. Fellow Hominidae include gorillas, chimps and orangutans. Does anyone seriously think we should refer to our fellow great apes as humans? I think not.

I’m against cruel treatment of animals as much as the next guy, but misrepresenting facts to whip up public outcry is intellectually corrupt.

And Macy’s fur policy is just stupid:

Our company has a standing policy against the selling of any dog or cat fur

So, it is OK to sell fur as long as it is not from a dog or cat? What makes these animals’ lives any more worthy of protection than those of other animals? How are the relative values of lives determined? Intelligence? Arbitary determination based on cultural values (and who determines which culture is used to dertermine which animals are or are not worthy of special protection? Shall we take a vote? I’m guessing there are more Chinese and Hindus than members of PETA, HSUS and the Kennel Club combined, so I guess cows are more likely to get onto the protected list than dogs, certainly racoon “dogs”)?

The article goes on to say:

 Macy’s yesterday pledged to use fake fur trims in the future manufacture of the coats

The pledge appears to be carefully worded so that the coats it sells (but doesn’t manufacture itself) with designer labels on them are not covered by that pledge.

The Independent has a “Fur Campaign” going:

Fur Campaign: What we are demanding

1. An end to the use of fur from animals which are cruelly treated, for example the two million cats and dogs raised in poor conditions for their fur in China or seals that are inhumanely slaughtered.

2. A halt to the practice of farming animals taken from the wild, such as foxes and mink, which are denied the basic freedoms they need and suffer distress when killed.

3. We want a universal system of labelling for fur, which clearly states its type and origin.

If we disect the first two demands, deductive logic leads us to this position:

1. Cats and dogs are OK, as long as they are raised in humane conditions. Seals are OK if they are slaughtered in a humane fashion.

2. Farming of wild animals is not OK, so farming must be contained to domesticated animals, such as cats and dogs.

I wonder what “basic freedoms” they refers to. Why should wild animals are treated preferentially to domesticated animals? Don’t domesticated animals also have basic freedoms which are denied to them by being bred for their fur? Also, I would guess that any animal would be distressed when killed, assuming that they have the ability to feel this emotion – so any animal that exhibits distress when being slaughtered should be protected then, but that would include all sorts of animals, chicken, domesticated livestock, insects. But then, plants also express distress when damaged or killed, so why draw the line at wild animals?

The newspaper has an article on fox hunting on the very same day: Half of Britons think ban on fox hunting will be overturned

Where is the Indie’s outrage on this issue? Foxes are as much dogs as racoon dogs are, after all. And fox hunting isn’t exactly without distress for the hunted foxes.

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