September 21, 2011 marked the eruption of open gaiety in the American Armed Forces. It will also stand as the day that the highly queer city of West Hollywood, CA, banned the sale of wool and fur within the enchanted bounds of that most unusual metropolis—although a wide range of other goods, services, and people remain for sale there.
Having banned the sale of cats and dogs last year, WeHo (as its denizens affectionately call it) has already legally designated pets as “animal companions” and their owners as “guardians”—the latter move since echoed by such burgs as San Francisco, Beverly Hills, and all of Rhode Island. Fur Free West Hollywood, the plan’s progenitrix, is jubilant, and the ongoing move to put pets in the same legal role as children (whom they have replaced in many households) continues.
Opposition thus far has been commercially motivated. The Chamber of Commerce and The Avenues—Art, Fashion and Design District are predictably concerned about the impact on their member businesses’ bottom lines. So too is the Fur Information Council of America, who will attempt to challenge the ban on constitutional and legal grounds. One supposes/hopes/expects that the American Wool Council will follow suit—there is a lot more involved here than merely Fur Information Council spokesman Keith Kaplan’s fear that the ban will damage the city’s efforts to establish itself as a little Paris: “You cannot be a fashion destination if you cannot represent the designers’ full collections of designs in retail establishments. There’s no truer determination of consumer attitudes than the cash register.”
This whole episode is part of the larger controversy over animal rights, which also encompasses such issues as hunting, animal experimentation, and meat consumption. The alleged cruelty of force-feeding geese led to the state’s bans on foie gras. When authorities find those who breed roosters for cockfighting, they charge the “guardians” with animal cruelty, while the animal “companions” are summarily destroyed. One can only hope that the officers who execute the roosters barbecue their corpses lest they die in vain.
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