At its first meeting of November, the West Hollywood City Council will once again consider a ban on fur sales within our city limits. I initially thought it was a good idea, but upon further consideration, I've changed my mind.
Although most of us find animal cruelty to be revolting, the measure before the City Council is ill-advised for many reasons.
Fur ban is unconstitutional
Although it may as many members of Congress spend on their own races, that does not give the Council the authority of Congress—only the United States Constitution does.
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the right "to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." It does not grant that right to the City of West Hollywood.
Unless a fur ban is limited to California-produced products, using California-grown fur, the City is opening itself up to legal liability by passing this ordinance.
Fur ban hurts local business
In addition to subjecting the City to legal jeopardy, the economic impacts of the ban are much wider than claimed by then-candidate John D'Amico.
While campaigning on the fur ban issue, D'Amico claimed only a handful of stores in West Hollywood would be covered by a fur ban. After all, our sunny climate does not prompt too many folks to feel the need for mink coats.
In fact, almost half of West Hollywood retailers carry some kind of fur product. Add in calfskin and shearling and mink eyelashes and you're looking at more than 110 West Hollywood businesses that will be covered by the ordinance, should they choose to stay.
Fur ban is political cowardice
Fur ban supporters argue that animals should not be killed for their fur. If that is true, then should they be killed for their hides? What about their meat?
The moral thing for the Council to do, if it believes that no animals should be harmed, is to ban not just fur, but leather, pulled pork, hamburger and chicken sandwiches as well.
Such a widespread ban would not be taken well by the City's business or residents. The fur ban is a half-measure that is politically difficult to oppose. It is the easy way out.
What's with this legislating morality?
In West Hollywood, we loathe when politicians try to legislate morality. Herman Cain and Rick Perry shouldn't tell us how to live our lives...but neither should Abbe Land, John Heilman or John D'Amico.
Mayor John Duran pointed out the City's trend toward legislating morality as one reason for his drift toward the opposition. Duran, and his colleagues, should unite in opposition to a prohibition on fur sales, and instead propose an alternative that will educate, not regulate, so market forces can end the sale of fur in the City naturally.