Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Monday, March 28, 2005

This week's issue of New York magazine leads off with a very disturbing blurb about "Astrakhan, the velvety, somewhat curly, very expensive lambskin also known as 'new fur' or Persian lamb." Stop reading now if you're eating.

The reason Astrakhan is so soft is that it's aborted Karakul-lambskin. The process of getting the fur requires killing the pregnant ewe, removing her lamb, and then killing it for its pelt.
That is stomach-turning, I'm sorry.

But there's a paradox here. I eat meat, I'm fine with eating meat. I don't love the conditions they keep chickens and cows in, and I wouldn't want to have to kill my meat myself, but I'll order it and eat it. Yet this really kind of disgusts me. But here's the paradox. So, for animals, killing the big ones is okay but killing the fetus is bad. For humans, we're cool with killing fetuses and not so cool with killing the big ones. I'm not making a political statement here, at all. I'm just pointing out that I'm confused by my own reactions. I guess it has to do with killing the fetus for its fur that's so abhorrent, although killing it to eat it sounds just as disgusting, if not more so. As the friend I was talking about this with said, "How much fur can they really get from a fetus anyway? These must be expensive coats." And I imagine they are. Also, can you imagine advertising for the job of doing this? "Help wanted: kill pregnant lambs, extract the fetus, kill the fetus, shave the fetus, make a coat." Right. Lining up out the door for this one. "Here's my resume. I used to write grotesque horror movies, so I think I'm perfectly qualified."

This conversation led to a related one about where the cutoff is for what kinds of animals it doesn't gross you out to imagine terrible stuff like this happening to (no, I don't usually think about these kinds of things). Bugs are below the line, I guess. I'll step on a bug. That's pretty bad -- for the bug -- but doesn't make me lose sleep. Fish seemed to be the line. I'm kind of uncomfortable with the thought of pulling a fish out of the water and smacking it against a brick wall. Just seems needlessly cruel. But I guess dangling a hook in front of its mouth for it to bite into is kind of cruel too. I'm never going fishing, am I?

What I'm really never doing is going hunting. I understand the impulse to want to have a gun for protection. I don't, and wouldn't, but I can get why it's not completely insane for someone to think that's a good idea. What I don't get is wanting to actually use a gun, even to kill stuff we eat. Just the idea of shooting some living, breathing thing that's walking around is really just something I find kind of grotesquely unpleasant and undesirable. I've got very little interest in shooting a deer, no matter how overpopulated they get. I do think, however, it would be beyond awesome to let random animals wander the city streets. How cool would it be to occasionally pass a goat walking by, or an antelope on the sidewalk? I guess not having the instant realization that animals probably aren't good at safely crossing streets reveals the amount of amimal contact I've had in my life. I still get excited when I see cows or horses out the window when driving through non-urban areas. Animals! Exciting! Look at the animals! Yes, I'm four years old. Sorry about that.