Anthropology Of Law Animal Rights Essay Research

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Anthropology Of Law Animal Rights Essay, Research Paper Anthropology of Law Animal Rights Protests: Is Radical Chic Still in Style? Over the past fifteen years a powerfully charged drama has unfolded in New York’s Broadway venues and spread to the opera houses and ballet productions of major cities across the country. Its characters include angry college students, aging rock stars, flamboyant B-movie queens, society matrons, and sophisticated fashion designers. You can’t buy tickets for this production, but you might catch a glimpse of it while driving in Bethesda on particular Saturday afternoons. If you’re lucky, Compassion Over Killing (COK), an animal rights civil disobedience group, will be picketing Miller’s Furs, their enemy in the fight against fur. These

impassioned activists see the fur trade as nothing less than wholesale, commercialized murder, and will go to great lengths to get their point across. Such enthusiasm may do them in, as COK’s often divisive rhetoric and tacit endorsement of vandalism threaten to alienate the very people it needs to reach in order to be successful. The animal rights idealogy crystallized with the publication of philosophy professor’s exploration of the way humans use and abuse other animals. Animal Liberation argued that animals have an intrinsic worth in themselves and deserve to exist on their own terms, not just as means to human ends. By 1985, ten years after Peter Singer’s watershed treatise was first published, dozens of animal rights groups had sprung up and were starting to savor

their first successes. In 1994 Paul Shapiro, then a student at Georgetown Day School, didn’t feel these non-profits were agitating aggressively enough for the cause. He founded Compassion Over Killing to mobilize animal rights activists in the Washington metropolitan area and “throw animal exploiters out of business.” Since then, COK has expanded to over 300 members with chapters across the country, including one at American University, which formed in the fall of 1996. COK organizes protests as a primary activity of the group, although some chapters may choose to expand into other areas if they wish. COK’s focus on direct-action protests and demonstrations is just one way that the animal rights movement has mobilized to end the fur trade. The larger animal rights

organizations have conducted attention grabbing media blitzes with the help of stars like Paul McCartney, Melissa Etheridge, Rikki Lake, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington. Lobbying efforts by animal advocacy groups have resulted in trapping restrictions in numerous states and an end to federal fur industry subsidies. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has persuaded several fashion designers including Calvin Klein and Donna Karan to stop using fur in their clothing lines. In addition, anti-fur concerts, videos, compact discs, t-shirts, drag revues and award ceremonies have been used by animal rights groups to advance their cause. Each side of the conflict over fur coats has an entirely different way of conceptualizing and talking about the issue. Animal rights

groups bluntly describe fur as “dead…animal parts” and emphasize that animals are killed to produce a fur garment. Those involved in the fur industry consistently use agricultural metaphors and talk of a yearly “crop of fur” that must be “harvested.” Manny Miller, the owner of Miller’s Furs, refused to describe his business in terms of the individual animals; “I don’t sell animals. I sell finished products. I sell fur coats.” These linguistic differences extend to the manner in which both sides frame the debate over fur. COK refers to the industry in criminal terms; fur is directly equated with murder and those involved in the industry are labeled killers. Industry groups like the Fur Information Council of America (FICA) always describes fur garments as