Banning fur is not a political statement

Call me sentimental, but I like animals. But I don’t like celebrity culture, and not just because I don’t know who many of the top celebs are nowadays. Don’t know, don’t want to know. This week I read in the Evening Standard that a nightclub by the name of Mahiki in super-swish Mayfair, London, has banned punters wearing fur coats from grooving the night away. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Mahiki is advertising the new ban with a neon sign inside the club displaying the word ‘fur’ with a line through it. The club’s staff are obliged to wear badges, too. It all feels like hip awareness-raising to me.

I have to admit that my blood is up. In one fell swoop, Mahiki has managed to alienate me, fur brands and the celebs who like to wear them. Don’t get me wrong: in my book, any private club has the right to exclude anyone. That’s what freedom from state interference means. Mahiki also has the right to advertise and campaign for its right-on stance and offend people like me, who think humans have the right to do what they want with animals.

Yet celebrity culture and the worship of the young and the trendy tend to go hand-in-hand with animal rights in the political wasteland that is Britain in 2014. The richer, more Mayfair you are, the greener, more nature-mad and more misanthropic you are. George Orwell once wrote that the English like animals in the same measure as they dislike human beings.

Nobody should be under the illusion that what you wear is an issue of political principle. Nightclub owners, plutocrats and animal-rights activists may like to fool themselves into thinking that it is, but such a view just shows that they have not yet risen above the intellectual level of our furry friends.

James Woudhuysen is professor of forecasting and innovation at De Montfort University, Leicester, and editor of Big Potatoes: the London Manifesto for Innovation. Read his blog here.

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