Pressured Johnny Weir Switches to Faux Fur for Olympics

Figure skater Johnny Weir says he'll wear faux fur at the Olympics after threats of disruption from animal rights groups angry that he is defiant about its use in some of his costumes.

Said Weir: Weir "I would like to announce that due to pressures and threats from a
certain animal rights group, I will be changing the genuine fox fur on
my free program costume that I will use in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games
in Vancouver, B.C., to white faux fur. I made this decision after several threats
were sent to me about disrupting my performance in the Olympic Games and
my costume designer, Stephanie Handler, was repeatedly sent messages of
hate and disgust. I do not want something as silly as my costume
disrupting my second Olympic experience and my chance at a medal, a
dream I have had since I was a kid. I hope these activists can understand that my decision to change
my costume is in no way a victory for them, but a draw. I am not changing in order to appease them, but to protect
my integrity and the integrity of the Olympic Games as well as my fellow
competitors. Just weeks away from hitting my starting position on the ice in
Vancouver, I have technique and training to worry about and that trumps
any costume and any threat I may receive."

Weir angered the groups last week by defending his use of it:

"I totally get the dirtiness of the fur industry and how terrible it
is to animals. But it's not something that's the No. 1 priority in my
life. There are humans dying everyday. There
are thousands if not millions of homeless people in New York City. Look
at what just happened in Haiti. I tend to focus my energy, if there is a cause, on humans. While
that may be callous and bad of me, it's my choice."

Comments

  1. says

    I agree 100% with Johnny about this… PETA is its own parody these days, and the tendency of many animal welfare activists to focus more on kindness to other species above and beyond their own is appalling. They’ve taken what is a noble intention and twisted it into something nonsensical and sad.

    That said, if Johnny could have used faux fur in his costume from the beginning, why wouldn’t he? It seems silly to use real fur for something like this. He made the right decision, even if a bit late in the game.

  2. says

    If Johnny wants to use fur in his costumes so much, perhaps he should be required to go to the fur farm and kill the animals himself or go out to someone’s traps and club the animal to death. And then skin and tan the pelt. It would probably give him a different perspective.

  3. Hamilton says

    I agree with you about priorities and human suffering.

    It’s one thing for a group to educate and raise public consciousness about animals in a reasonable way. I assume this group is PETA. In my opinion they do their cause far more harm than good with threats such as the one you mentioned.

    This kind of tactic makes me think of the wingnuts who harass pregnant women on their way to a clinic with pictures of gestational fetuses. They, too, do their cause far more harm than good.

    This also brings to mind Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church lunatics.

    I believe individuals drawn to tactics like this have real mental health issues.

  4. Richie says

    But why does ANYONE need to wear real fur? is it really that big a deal to switch to fake fur?

    I understand what Johnny is saying about priorities – but the fur industry is such an easy wrong to right – why not change over?

  5. says

    Homer, it probably would. Perhaps we should all be forced to make our own fur and leather. Or butcher our own meat. Or fertilize our own vegetable fields with tons of manure. Or forge our own steel. Or send civilians into battle. Or deliver our own babies. Or perform our own surgeries.

    There are all kinds of uncomfortable things in the world, of which this is only one.

  6. Paul says

    I completely disagree with him. He’s just a typical gay brat! It is obvious that he’s completely out of touch with respecting Animal Rights! Haiti doesn’t have anything to do with just doing what’s right! I am glad he decided to change his mind and I do not like PETA but his answer to this matter just shows how inmature and uneducated he really is.

  7. TampaZeke says

    Beyond the argument of pro/anti fur, I find it troubling that Weir thinks seems to be making the case that, as long as there is human suffering in the world I can’t be bothered with (what he himself called) animal cruelty. That is the definition of a non sequitur.

    This sounds a lot like the people who say that we can’t address DADT or DOMA or ENDA or any other gay civil rights issue as long as ____________________________ (we’re at war; there’s a recession; people are dying in Darfur; people are suffering in Haiti; people are still homeless in New Orleans, etc, etc, etc.)

    One thing has NOTHING to do with the other and none of these things are mutually exclusive of the others.

    Regardless of my position for or against animal issues I find his statement to be ignorant, lazy and arrogant.

  8. Wes says

    I don’t support killing animals for fur clothing unless you live in some kind of native society where its actually necessary. Ironically, even in those kinds of societies, the animals they kill usually receive more respect than from the ‘civilized’ entrepreneurs that come to mine the forests for skin. The natives actually seem to understand the weight of what they must do.

    Barging into the forest and killing a bunch of animals to bring back and make a fancy coat with is totally unnecessary and pretty damn f*cked up IMO.

    The way I see it, there are many undesirable things in the world, some of them necessary. When it becomes unnecessary cruelty, I have a problem. This includes everything from clubbing baby seals to slaughtering whales to tearing the ivory from an elephants body to the conditions chickens are raised in for their meat and eggs.

    Eating meat is completely natural and not immoral in the least. Causing a lifetime of systematic torture and suffering in the process is immoral, and you don’t have to be a vegetarian to realize that. Plus, healthier, happier animals taste better than sick, tortured ones, so everyone wins.

    All that said, PETA is useless, except in giving animal rights activists a bad rap. I donate to the humane society, they have the highest rating on charity navigator and most of their donations actually go to helping animals.

    Oh, and I care about humans too (some of them, anyways). Who says you can’t do both?

  9. TampaZeke says

    And on the other side. No matter where I stand on animal issues, I whole-heartedly disagree with threats, bullying and acts of terrorism to support ANY issue.

    Those who are making threats against him should be ashamed of themselves. They aren’t helping their cause.

  10. Chris says

    I don’t wear fur, I live in a climate which doesn’t require it. If I did it would be the real thing. When you are done with real fur, when you have worn it out, you can discard it and it will return to the environment within 100 years. Faux fur is an oil based synthetic and when you discard it will contaminate the environment for 100 000 years. PETA is an anti-environmental organization.

  11. Kevin says

    I’m thinking Johnny Weir is getting bad PR advice. It’s one thing to focus on people rather than animals. But is it necessary to spell that out for people?

  12. Hank says

    I’m still impressed at the homophobia in some of these reactions.

    Once the Olympics are over I hope Weir parades in a full body fur parka with a dead baby seal seal of approval.

    I hope you activists are vegan and growing your own food. Otherwise, you’re fucking hypocrites.

  13. joe says

    I like Johnny Weir and I think he is being stupid about fur.

    Fur is gross.

    That doesn’t mean I can’t still like Johnny because he is outrageous for outrageousness’ sake.

  14. Wes says

    Yea, unless you are vegan and growing your own food, you should support whatever humans want to do to animals for whatever reason. That’s sensible and not overly simplistic at all.

  15. me says

    *All* skaters wear leather skates. And there’s a lot of leather in those skates – they’re thick and heavy. So… PETA should be protesting basically every figure skater/ figure skating as a sport.

  16. TJ says

    But Wes, simple is what WORKS! Dichotomous choices are EASY. Like, THE BIBLE says being gay is wrong (or so my preacher tells me). The bible IS the word of God, right? So all Gay people are bad.

    I eat meat. So skinning animals while still alive, for the sake of vanity, must be okay. I care about people, so I can’t also care about animals. I LIKE SIMPLE! NO HOMEWORK!

  17. Shawn says

    I don’t wear fur. I do have some leather. And I’m sure the industry is disgusting. But at this moment I’m more disgusted to see his choices being influenced by threats.
    I’d have preferred he made a statement thanking PETA (or whomever) for their advice and asking that anyone else who would like to thank Peta do so by sending them a rabbit’s foot in appreciation. Maybe just some leather laces.

  18. Jay says

    Oh no, he’s effeminate and therefore his point isn’t valid! Didn’t see THAT coming.

    I don’t believe in fur, but I don’t believe harassing people is the ket either. Education is far more valuable than threats. And if some minds don’t change, than they don’t.

  19. wtf says

    such bullshit. fur is the ‘feel good’ cause: “I don’t like fur because it’s so cruel, look at me I’m such a good person” line is TIRED. Take a good long look around people. Our entire culture is based on killing and raping the land and animals. You don’t like fur? Then don’t wear it motherfucker. In the meantime get out of my way and don’t step on my muthafuckin’ chinchilla coat. Oh, and don’t like effeminate fags either? Well fuck you too missy. Who do you think fought for you in ’69? What a bunch of fuckin’ whiny bitch ass babies. Go on with your bad self Johnny.

  20. Wes says

    “Our entire culture is based on killing and raping the land and animals.”

    That doesn’t mean we all have to be okay with it.

    Killing animals in itself is not immoral, it depends on the why and how IMO. Circumstances and context are everything.

    The spectrum can range from killing animals that have been allowed to live a relatively natural life for food to pitting two abused dogs against each other in a fight to the death as a sick game of gambling.

    The absolutes of “all animal killing is wrong” and “no animal killing is wrong” are extreme and nonsensical.

  21. Wes says

    I’ll add that I agree that insulting someone based on effeminacy is wrong and bigoted. I have great respect for effeminate men, some of them are the strongest people out there. And although I don’t really consider myself one of them, I do have my moments.

  22. wtf says

    so it’s ok to keep an animal penned, forcefed and then slaughtered for your burger/shoes/belt/car seats/gloves/watchband/wallet/luggage but it’s not ok for someone else to wear fur? Killing an animal to wear it, to glory in the beauty of its pelt is somehow wrong? please wes, take your oh-so-evolved argument and shove it up directly up your oh-so masculine ass. at the very least, don’t kid yourself that you not wearing fur makes *any* difference. at all. So you’re not “ok” with the culture of being takers? So you live in a mudhut, right? Or you just console yourself that you’re just better because you disapprove of the very culture you are intrinsically bound to, everyday, in every way. Until you bitches can walk the walk, you need to shut the fuck up.

  23. TANK says

    “so it’s ok to keep an animal penned, forcefed and then slaughtered for your burger/shoes/belt/car seats/gloves/watchband/wallet/luggage but it’s not ok for someone else to wear fur? Killing an animal to wear it, to glory in the beauty of its pelt is somehow wrong?”

    Okay, obviously you’re having a failure of basic comprehension here. This is a false distinction, as nowhere was it asserted that it’s okay for animals to be caused needless suffering for those things. It’s certainly not either/or, so false dilemma as well.

    And being a vegetarian (I’m not one), does make a difference in the amount of suffering caused animals. With your attitude, why do anything? It won’t make a difference.

    Something to take into consideration would be whether or not it would be okay to take the life of a person, though painlessly and without suffering, if you would use that person’s body in a way that entertained you somehow…

  24. Wes says

    Gee, ‘WTF’, its a pleasure having a rational debate with you. I can almost see your fingers snapping and head bobbing around like the little caricature I’m sure you don’t aspire to be.

    I’m okay with animals being raised for food, or leather even (in fact I prefer if they maximize the use of the animal if they’re going to kill it), IF they are allowed a relatively natural existence prior to being killed. I don’t support the unnatural systematic torture of animals, as I said previously.

    I also have no problem with people killing for fur if its necessary, and often times those people actually respect the animals they are killing. You don’t seem to show any amount of respect to them at all, which strikes me as slightly sociopathic, but I suppose that’s getting off topic.

    I don’t think some corporate enterprise consisting of clubbing baby seals or mining the forest for hides or tearing the ivory from elephants or “raping the land/animals” as you put it is right. You seem to think that because its a part of our culture, no one should speak against it or try to change it. If you look through history, it isn’t only animals and nature that has been ravaged by man, its also other people. Our “culture” used to be dependent upon the utilization of human slaves (as have many other cultures). The only way these things change are when people speak up and try to make them change.

    I don’t claim to be righteous or exempt from any guilt in my life, but I also realize that’s not an excuse to an ‘anything goes’ attitude. Do you support dogfighting? Should people be allowed to torture animals for the heck of it? Where do you draw the line? Or do you take the extreme position that whoever has the upper hand in life should be able to do whatever they want, because that’s the way it is and “too bad” if you feel otherwise. If so, you can’t really bitch about any unfairness towards homosexuals or any other “cultural” injustice.

  25. wtf says

    oh tank. sometimes you seem to be able to grasp concepts larger than you, and sometimes, like now, you just fail. obviously you know absolutely nothing about how we acquire 99% of all leather goods in the world. interesting that you’re not a vegetarian which basically just puts you in the category of “I don’t like what you said so I’m going to disagree with some weird argument” as in, animals and people are equal. c’mon you’re better than that, aren’t you? but I guess I shouldn’t expect better from someone who doesn’t see that this is an either/or: either you put your money where your mouth is and work at eliminating the use of animal products, or you’re just part of the problem. You, as a meat-eater are distinctly part of the problem. There’s simply not a lot of grey area here: the false argument is that you TELL YOURSELF that recycling and eating free range chicken once a month is somehow going to make some noticeable difference: it takes much, much more. but you go ahead and live in your own little reality bud.

  26. Wes says

    Actually, the fact that they are offering ‘free range’ chickens and other animals more and more is a result of the pushback against the industry due to raised awareness of whats really been going on. And as I said earlier, its a win-win, since happy, healthy animals taste better and are better for you than tortured, sick animals.

    In the past, pretty much all animals were ‘free range’. Farmers often respected their livestock, they didn’t systematically torture and abuse them. What has become of the meat industry is unprecedented and unnatural.

    So, actually, the raised awareness has actually begun to make a difference. I agree that it may not even be a dent, but its something and certainly not insignificant.

  27. TANK says

    “obviously you know absolutely nothing about how we acquire 99% of all leather goods in the world.”

    I know quite a bit about it, actually. And it’s not from deceased animals. Have you ever seen a cow skinned alive? Or a pig? A lamb? I have. It’s not pretty.

    ‘”interesting that you’re not a vegetarian which basically just puts you in the category of “I don’t like what you said so I’m going to disagree with some weird argument”‘

    No, I’m a carnivore and therefore unethical. It’s okay, but it’s not.

    “as in, animals and people are equal.”

    No. People are animals. The entire purpose of the origin of species was to reduce the myth/gap that human beings are so far removed from other animals. We’re a lot closer than is comfortable for people like yourself to admit. You’re speciesist. I don’t think humans are identical to chimpanzees and bonobos, though very similar genetically and even behaviorally. They can both suffer, and that is the most important ethical question that one need ask…”can it suffer”? If something has the capacity to suffer, then it is an ethical agent worthy of ethical consideration. Of course one can disagree, but then one simply isn’t entitled to the consideration that would seek to reduce or minimize their own suffering (i.e., has defined themselves outside of ethics).

    “c’mon you’re better than that, aren’t you?”

    Well obviously you aren’t. There simply isn’t any thought behind your infantile beliefs… Should people conduct themselves toward you in a manner that completely disregards your desires, goals…and concern for your own well being? No? Why not? You don’t like it? LOL!

    “but I guess I shouldn’t expect better from someone who doesn’t see that this is an either/or: either you put your money where your mouth is and work at eliminating the use of animal products, or you’re just part of the problem.”

    That’s right. I’m a part of the problem. It is a problem, too. I’m just not as ethical as Peter Singer is. He’s definitely a better person than most, including myself.

    “You, as a meat-eater are distinctly part of the problem. There’s simply not a lot of grey area here: the false argument is that you TELL YOURSELF that recycling and eating free range chicken once a month is somehow going to make some noticeable difference: it takes much, much more.”

    It takes much much more than just an individual to make a difference…that’s why ethics concerns more than just the person making the ethical statement…it’s universal…that’s why it’s ethics.

    “but you go ahead and live in your own little reality bud.”

    That person is no longer participating in the needless suffering of entities so capable, or driving the demand for it. Now, I’m going to give you a little scenario. A lot of people create this elaborate excuses to get out of giving money to charity. One of them is that the money they give won’t make a big difference, and won’t solve the problem that money is being generated for. Another one is that these charities are corrupt and their money will mostly go toward operating expenses, etc. Now, my question to them (and apparently, you), is that even if that were true, if the money they gave were used to save one life from, say, starvation or disease…wouldn’t it be worth it? Just one life…they usually say yes… So we can apply that to vegetarians, too.

  28. says

    He just sealed his fate as a failed skater at this year’s upcoming Olympics. He has lost the support of the audience, of the crowd and of human and animal dignity. He will fail in his bid to win the Gold medal. And that is how it should be. You don’t kill animals just so you can wear their fur so you can feel pretty. You aren’t pretty. You are very ugly.

  29. Meredith says

    Why do people want to create a hierarchy of suffering? For example: people will often argue should we save people or animals?

    But why does it have to be an either/or discussion? Is Wier’s compassion so limited that he isn’t capable of helping people AND animals?

    The way I see it, ANY step taken to reduce any suffering – people, animals or the planet, is worthwhile.

  30. TJ says

    @DEREK: “Another … douche baggie, opinionated fag”

    Pot calling the kettle beige much?

    Between the two of you, I think I’d much rather have a beer – and an intelligent conversation – with Tank.

  31. Perry says

    Johnny said it best himself: “…I do not want something as silly as my costume disrupting my…”

    Honey…your 15 minutes were over long ago. Time for you to produce or just go away. Now, you’re just boring.

  32. Rachel says

    Wow! He looks great!

    I think it is a shame that people sent him threats, hatemail and such. PETA and other such groups have a habit of going straight for the jugular. It alienates people and the only reaction they’re going to get is defiance. If people had written polite letters explaining the reality of the situation he might have changed his mind.

    The fur trade is horrific. Animals are often skinned still concious because its cheaper than killing them properly first. PETA’s appropriating, misogynist, confrontational approach is NOT HELPING. It alienated this man, when we could instead have made an ally. Great blooming job.

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