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Animal Rights Group Unhappy With Weir Wearing Fur

January 26, 2010 | Fur

The NY Times
By NANCY ARMOUR AP National Writer
Filed at 9:59 p.m. ET

Johnny Weir has set fur flying again.

Friends of Animals has posted an open letter to the figure skater, criticizing him for having fox on one of his costumes and asking him to stop wearing fur. The animal advocacy group also contacted his costume designer, Stephanie Handler, on Tuesday.

''I totally get the dirtiness of the fur industry and how terrible it is to animals. But it's not something that's the No. 1 priority in my life,'' Weir said Tuesday night. ''There are humans dying everyday. There are thousands if not millions of homeless people in New York City. Look at what just happened in Haiti.

''I tend to focus my energy, if there is a cause, on humans. While that may be callous and bad of me, it's my choice.''

Weir loves fashion, and his costumes tend to be on the avant-garde -- some would say extreme -- side. When the three-time U.S. champion redesigned his free skate costume before nationals, he had Handler add a tuft of white fox fur to the left shoulder.

Weir said he thought the costume was ''lovely,'' but Friends of Animals disagreed. Foxes are electrocuted or beaten, and their pelts are obtained by skinning the animals alive.

''He's a role model for a lot of people, including other skaters,'' said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. ''When he makes fun of the suffering of animals that are consumed for this frivolous fashion industry and whose lives are sacrificed so he can wear little tufts of fur on his outfit, that's fair game for comment.''

Weir finished third at nationals, qualifying for his second Olympic team.

Friends of Animals is not the first group to target Weir. He said he's gotten letters from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and people have sent him videos depicting how animals are treated by the fur industry.

But Weir said this is the first time someone has contacted Handler.

''She did what I asked her to. It wasn't her choice to make me a costume with fur,'' Weir said. ''At least directly come to me and yell at me. Don't attack my peeps.''

Weir said he understands the groups' objections, but he doesn't share their point of view.

Besides, he's not the only skater wearing animal skin products.

''Every skater is wearing skates made out of cow,'' Weir said. ''Maybe I'm wearing a cute little fox while everyone else is wearing cow, but we're all still wearing animals.''

Comments

Thank you for standing up to such a cruel and inhumane practice.

maybe you should spend a little more time worring about the things going around yourself before worring about what someone decides to put on thier costume. If we were to just let these animals run free then you would be complaining that we are hitting too many with our automobiles, then you would want to take away automobiles. [Blog editors' note: Arctic foxes, coyotes, raccoons and wolves do run free in nature, Mark, and I hope you keep your traction off their backs. As Judge Judy says: Time to change was yesterday. Time to wake up is now.

As we all know, FUR COMES FROM ANIMALS THAT WERE INHUMANLY FORCED IN WIRE CAGES, BEATEN TO DEATH, OR THEIR LIMBS WERE SNAPPED & BROKEN IN BARBARIC TRAPS. THEY ARE OFTEN SKINNED ALIVE- COME ON THAT'S DISGUSTING. He wore fur and, therefore, we will not watch him and boycott his event.

I agree w/ Weir. What this organization is doing is ok, however, with everything else happening in the world today, the efforts of this group need to be direct towards another animal... human beings. How dare you attempt to impose your thought and beliefs on the rest of us. [Blog editors' note: Welcome to the animal advocacy movement Peter Senft. Put on your listening ears and realize, please, you're not the center of the universe. Moreover, Arctic foxes were not put on earth so that 25-yr-old figure skaters could pay to have them dismembered for fashion accessories. You're not entitled; your ideas are self-indulgent. Poorly presented, too.]

If you want to make a statement that has some effect, get a group of people more sensitive than Weir- who probably doesn't do anything for humans (other than himself) either- to show up at the skating competitions with a banner and have them boo Weir when he goes on the ice. You need to be aggresive -like Greenpeace- and you'll stop him from wearing the fox costume the next time- if you boo loud enough, you'll have a huge impact. A side benefit: you'll get more contributions. AARON

"Foxes are electrocuted or beaten, and their pelts are obtained by skinning the animals alive, said Anai Rhoads, spokeswoman for the group." - We all know that this isn't true.... [Blog editors' note: Really? If you're not a furrier, ask one how a "ranched" fox is killed. Ask a trapper what happens to a white Arctic fox, before and during the trapper's visit to the trapline. Johnny Weir's skating outfit sports Arctic fox fur, so your denial and contempt for other animals whose lives don't belong to you doesn't impress anyone here at all.]

When talking about the horrors inflicted upon animals or humans, remember that in the vast majority of cases it is humans who are doing this, and only humans who can help end any of it. (The other cases being natural disasters). What we humans do in our personal lives can hurt others. If we wear fur or leather we create demand which hurts or kills animals. If we eat meat, dairy or eggs we create demand which hurts or kills animals. Avoiding this cruelty in our daily lives won't ever stop us from helping humans. Not only that, just because we don't hurt or kill animals directly doesn't mean we aren't responsible. It's like hiring a hitman to "take someone out". The hitman wouldn't do it unless asked to and paid for services. *Not* fighting for animals rights is like *not* notifying the police if you become aware of a "hit" about to take place. We are all complicit. I love this quote: Go vegan and no-one gets hurt.

People like Weir do not care about anyone but themselves. So he gets how dirty the fur industry is but he has other things on his mind?! What the...? I do not care how busy you are, but if you know something is wrong take an extra 10 seconds to make the right and ethical decision. All he had to do was to ask his costume designer to use faux fur (or forget the whole ugly fur look altogether) and he would have made a difference in the life of one animal. You do not have to be an activist to help change the injustices in this world, whether to humans or animals.

The fur industry exploits animals for fashion in horribly cruel ways, and supporting it is wrong, but how are wearing leather, eating meat, eating cheese, etc. any different? Singling out Johnny Weir for criticism while ignoring the fact that the vast majority of people in our society also support animal exploitation, torture, and death does little or nothing to raise consciousness about animal rights. FoA comments: It's simply not possible to raise every issue at the same time. Weir wasn't singled out, but used as an example of the heartlessness of wearing fur. Those people who think that there is nothing wrong with wearing fur now have reason to think again.

It is a hideous practice. I do not condone it one bit. I'm just appalled at the things that happen in this world, and not only to animals but to humans. I understand the comment now, I didn't know that they were kept in "farms." Its a very hard thing to see, and what makes it harder is that you don't want to believe it happens, especially in abundance. I don't understand how skinning the animals alive makes less damage to the fur though. Because of the blood? Do they not wash the fur anyway before turning it into someone's coat?

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