At times, strange things happen during unexpected moments or places. Yesterday, while waiting at the checkout line at a drug store, was one of such times. On top of my head I was proudly wearing my Russian-made fox fur hat (ushanka), a birthday present that my wife gave me some years ago. It is not only extremely warm, as only fur can be, but also stylish.
A woman, I would say in her late sixties or early seventies, asked if my hat was "real fur." To her question, I replied a gleeful "yes." That was not the response she liked,and began to unleash a short public lecture on animal cruelty, the fur industry and my heartlessness to animals. I decided it was better not to respond or engage her, since I saw no need to defend my position, and she, apart from her need to scold, was otherwise harmless. She walked away muttering to herself while she wheeled her carriage full of goods out the door.
The persons in line, both behind and in front of me, thought her position and lecture were outrageous and egregious, offering words like "no one asked for her opinion" and "people have the freedom to wear what they want." One person added that "it's lucky she didn't throw paint on your fur hat." To which I added, "I would call the police and press charges." Wearing fur is neither illegal nor immoral. Destroying private property, however, is against the law and individuals who do so ought to bear the legal consequences.
Yet, for individuals who hold totalitarian views, such as many pet activists (think PETA), it's more reprehensible to hold a differing opinion than it is to break the law. Conformity is necessary and the end justifies the means, even if it leads to destruction; and yet many animal activists and animal liberation organizations fit such descriptions, Marxian in views and in practices. No allowance is made for other views, for other ways of thinking and acting.
The issue here is not about animal cruelty—a subject in itself—but about how cultic thinking can influence and lead to both unfiltered opinions and unlawful acts. Freedom within the wide boundaries of democracy allows multiple and diverging opinions and views; this includes the wearing of fur hats. Such is the strength and beauty of liberal democracy.