Rabbi Jonathan Klein's Blog

My Photo
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What I Said to WeHo City Council to Support a Citywide Fur Ban

Dear Friends,
I have not been blogging for a while (two years!), but instead I have been being an activist! I now direct Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Los Angeles, a citywide worker justice organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes the faith community to stand with workers and their families for dignity in the workplace.
However, recently I have been taking the strategies fine-tuned for clergy activism in economic justice matters and have applied them to Animal Rights (AR) advocacy. This week, the city of West Hollywood became a national champion for AR legislation when a coalition of activists passed the first citywide ban for the sale of fur apparel. I was blessed to be there that night; here are my remarks to city council:
"Gladiator fights. Foot-binding. Child labor. Beheadings. Public executions. Slavery. Acceptable norms for human behavior have changed dramatically over the centuries. Yet our speciesism still leads to horrible atrocities to G's creations.
Animals are sentient beings. They experience fear, pain, tenderness and love.
Simply because we can torture non-humans without fear of the law does not entitle us to maim, mangle, or mutilate any breathing creature. I believe that G endowed us with the knowledge and conscience to know that we are inflicting pain on others.
We don't need fur,
We do need kindness, compassion, love...a return to Eden, where fig leaves were what covered our bodies.
The Bible teaches us compassion upon all earth's inhabitants:
  • One may not muzzle an ox in the field.
  • One may not put a yoke on two different species, lest the weaker animal suffer.
  • One may not remove the eggs from a nest in front of a mother bird.

The unnecessary suffering of animals is against every major religious tradition, and we have the opportunity here to lessen the suffering of so many animals if this body does what is right,

what is compassionate,

what is morally correct,

and eliminate the unnecessary, cruel, nightmarish sale of dead animal skins in West Hollywood. Please! Thank you."

The only problem with this (besides that it was written on a random songsheet from the previous night's grocery contract fight vigil, spontaneously, scribbled using a fellow AR activist friend's notebook) is that I ended it somewhat incorrectly by referring to the sale of dead animal skins. That would include leather....I feel the pressure to get rid of all my leather apparel; as a new convert to abolitionist veganism, I feel the guilt growing daily for my ownership of leather shoes and belts.

I decided to post these words in part because IT IS TIME FOR THE FAITH COMMUNITY TO ORGANIZE ITS SUPPORT FOR NON-HUMAN ANIMALS, WHO SUFFER HEINOUS, TORTUROUS ACTS, WITH UTTER DISREGARD UNRIVALED ANYWHERE. This is the beginning, I hope, of creating an organization to support animal rights legislation and more as The Communal Conscience for Animals. Let me know your thoughts!