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Diamonds Not Fur? How About Neither?

Diamonds Not Fur? How About Neither?

 

Last week in West Hollywood, a group of celebrities got together for a red carpet charity fundraising event to benefit the SPCA in Los Angeles.

The event, called “Diamonds Not Fur” was founded by model Katie Cleary.

The story is that Cleary was modeling for a high-end custom jeweler and was asked to wear a diamond necklace and a fur jacket. Cleary replied that she would wear the diamonds but wouldn’t be seen in fur because she is an animal lover. When she decided to start a fundraiser for animal groups, she decided to call it “Diamonds Not Fur.”

Anyone who cares about animals and has a cursory knowledge of the diamond industry will wince at that name. The diamond industry — dominated almost completely from start to finish by the De Beers group of companies — is guilty of some of the worst human-rights abuses in the world and has been labeled as the most unethical company in the world even by some socially conservative groups. Between diamond miners’ heightened exposure to HIV, diamond sales funding wars fought by child soldiers, child laborers cutting the diamonds, and De Beers’ underhanded business practices, it’s hard to think of an industry more antithetical to human rights than the diamond industry.

This kind of gaffe isn’t uncommon in charity work. Often groups find themselves advocating for one cause while unknowingly taking actions directly contrary to that cause. There are two reasons in particular, however, that make this faux pas especially egregious.

The first reason is that among the most common criticisms of the animal rights movement — especially on a colloquial level — is that animal rights advocates are misanthropic and place no value on human issues because we are so concerned with animal issues.

When we make the statement that you shouldn’t wear fur because the fur industry tortures and murders animals, but diamonds are OK to wear even though the diamond industry tortures and murders people, we are even worse than misanthropes, we’re hypocrites. We should view social justice in a holistic way; we cannot abhor violence against animals while supporting violence against humans.

The second major reason this event was especially distasteful was that the diamonds theme wasn’t just in name only, but there was a charity auction that included a diamond pendant. Selling diamonds to benefit the SPCA isn’t a far cry from selling human slaves to raise money for farm sanctuaries.

Of course the event had its own animal-related problems as well. There were also leather footballs auctioned off at the event, which wholly negates any anti-fur sentiment the organizers may have been trying to communicate. Why is slaughtering animals for fur coats any different than the thousands of cows slaughtered every year to provide the NFL with footballs?

Outspoken vegans are often criticized by others in the broader animal advocacy community for being too ideologically rigid and absolutist, but when we look at the glaring and depressing contradiction that pervades some of our “charity” organizations, it seems like a little “ideological rigidity” might do them some good.

 

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Photo: Stephend9

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106 comments

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7:55PM PST on Dec 11, 2011

"Why is slaughtering animals for fur coats any different than the thousands of cows slaughtered every year to provide the NFL with footballs?"

I thought it was called a "pigskin". Are they made from cows, really? That's dumb.

I wouldn't wear real or fake fur, and even with the Kimberley process I think abuses can happen. I own one diamond, it's an antique ring. so is it bad to "recycle" older stones, either wearing the original lovely setting, or put in a modern one? It was a gift many long years ago. I never wear it anyway.

I know fake fur is bad, but as far as plush toys, if they could work out the problems with bamboo, I once got my nephew a cute animal made with organic bamboo and it was super soft. That could be a great alternative fiber, it's a grass, it grows fast, so it could be pretty sustainable.

7:38PM PST on Dec 11, 2011

I love my quality CZ engagement ring, an one thousandth of the cost of and equal sive/quality diamond I feel like I won all round. I would much rather use the $35k to put toward a house, educate my future children, or assist a ccharity (or all 3). Such a waste of money, such a waste of so many lives! Sure some women are rude about the fact it's fake while they're proudly flaunting pain and suffering on their finger...

10:34AM PDT on Oct 2, 2011

where and how products are produced need to be taken into account by everyone and with everything.

2:37PM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

It would be great to have a hunting season for humans, and, we could start with Obama and all of Congress! That would solve so many problems! It seems as though the people who abhor this nonsense are in a majority to those who do not, so, why is it so hard to get this garbage to stop? Guess money talks, and, this administration sets an example of how NOT to be kind, caring, and do the right thing!

12:34PM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

Neither - too much corruption surrounding diamonds, and too much human suffering! Not as horrible as the animals, but, there is no need for either! Humanity will survive without these things! It is only the rich and vain who indulge, and, many make a huge ostentatious show as if that is what defines them. Unfortunately, with some, that is exactly what does!

9:09PM PDT on Sep 13, 2011

I do not care for diamonds or fur....the gem in my wedding ring is not a diamond....but ask me if I care lol. If my ring is stolen its not a big loss because my marriage is not based on money and I can not see wasting that kind of money on diamonds. As for fur....if your just going to kill the animal for fur then I am TOTALLY against it. But there are some people that use every part of the animal and its not as bad.

6:14PM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

i never understood the appeal of either

2:17PM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

neither, baby!

4:40PM PDT on Sep 6, 2011

Why is slaughtering animals for fur coats any different than the thousands of cows slaughtered every year to provide the NFL with footballs?

Slaughtering any animal for any reason is morally wrong. The difference is that we have a chance to save animals used for fur. We don't have a chance in hell in saving the poor innocent cows. Too many humans feel it is their god given right to eat them.
If there was a god, things would not be this way.

4:06PM PDT on Sep 5, 2011

fake fur is from petrochemicals. fake fur is plastic. untill they make it out of "new" materials, plastic is from oil. and not cooking oil either.

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