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UnFURgiven

After last December's debacle over fur-trimmed jackets wrongly labeled as faux, and the additional sensation caused by headlines calling the fallacious fuzz "dog fur," the Humane Society has demanded that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission take action.  The petition, available here, requests that the FTC seize mislabled garments and levy fines against retailers ranging from Bergdorf's to Burlington Coat Factory.  In addition, the Human Society is backing federal legislation to further restrict the sale of fur. 

Whether or not you have a dog in this fight, ironically taking place during the warmest winter on record worldwide, the cultural debate is inescapable.  At a lecture at Parsons The New School for Design earlier this evening, Business Week editor Bruce Nussbaum challenged an audience of design students to challenge their assumptions about issues such as ethics and sustainability.  Is a mink coat somehow evil, or is it an example of a sustainable, organic, durable, reusable, biodegradable product that might be preferable to one fashioned from synthetic materials?  A shocking question to many, no doubt, but leading an examined life (or career, for that matter) calls for more than easy inquiries. 

Is wearing fur about fashion, cruelty, warmth, conspicuous consumption, the natural order, inhuman behavior towards non-humans, control, freedom, or all of the above?  The debate continues -- and this time, it's legal.