To the editor: Daniel Engber is correct that the morals of many Americans are confused. Both fur production and agribusiness inflict extreme brutality and atrocious suffering on animals for the sake of inessential products. ("The confusion of fur-hating carnivores," op-ed, May 2)
But designer Karl Lagerfeld and Engber himself reveal a level of moral reasoning appropriate to unschooled children. Lagerfeld defends the use of fur by saying that "it's not as bad as carnivorism" and that "as long as people eat meat and wear leather, I don't get the message."
But what child has not been instructed that two wrongs don't make a right? And what college sophomore doesn't recognize the ad hominem fallacy: attacking persons (here, as hypocrites) rather than engaging with their moral arguments?
Engber concludes that until all agree that "meat is murder too … it might be best to keep our anti-fur obsession under wraps." Really? By this reasoning, so long as some wrongs are unrecognized by society, no one need try to end any individual injustice. So long as child labor and domestic abuse persist, we need not attempt to end slavery or any other social ill.
It's interesting that those who work hard to end a social evil are so often condemned for not doing more — by those doing nothing at all.
Kathie Jenni, Beaumont
The writer, a professor of philosophy, is director of human-animal studies at the University of Redlands.
To the editor: Substitution of old materials with new ones is an integral part of human progress. In religious ceremonies, if we can substitute animal flesh for human flesh and view this change as positive, we are ready to go forward in our secular lives on ground that is already laid.
Technologically, the transformation of plants to flesh- and fur-like products has already occurred because people have desired it and technology can satisfy the desire. If "The Peaceable Kingdom" reflects a true aspiration, fake meat is the food to which dead meat has aspired, and the makers of fake meat and the fur-free designers are as deserving as anyone is of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Karen Davis, Machipongo, Va.
The writer is president of United Poultry Concerns.
To the editor: Meat eating sustains human life. Regardless of what kind people eat, meat keeps humans alive and perhaps even healthy.
But fur is purely ornamental. There are tons of other options for clothing that don't involve killing animals.
One is a necessity, the other a luxury. We don't have to kill beautiful animals to satisfy the fashion tastes of the wealthy.
Daisy Matthews, Los Angeles