3:59 p.m. - 2005-02-07
For those who don't want to play "let's click the link", Mercedes is now making their models available with cloth seats, so that animal rights activists will buy their cars. The funniest part is that PETA, the group in question, calls their concession "a huge victory for animal rights."
This is wrong on so many levels.
First of all, there are about 80 kazillion makes and models of automobiles on the market. If you don't want one with leather seats, there are plenty to choose from, some of them quite luxurious. Second of all, if you're into animal rights to that degree, you're probably also an environmentalist. And there ain't nothing about big old cars with big old engines that is good for the environment. Mind you, they are nowhere near as bad as say, the H2, or the Excursion, or whatever other land yacht SUV is the current trend among yuppies in debt. However, if you've got the rocks to buy a luxury vehicle, you could afford one of the new hybrids.
Furthermore, this illustrates a bigger problem…pandering to special interests.
I'm not saying that we should exclude people whose viewpoints differ. I'm not saying that it's okay to ridicule or make fun of people, or that things shouldn't be accessible to people with disabilities, or that there shouldn't be equal pay for equal work. What I am saying is that, when a major luxury car manufacturer goes out of its way to cater to a certain group, it's sad. It's sad because it enables people to avoid the consequences of their beliefs.
Say, for example, I'm a vegetarian. (Which I am so not. But I couldn't think of another example off the top of my head, and we're already talking about animal rights, so there ya go.) I know that there are places I can't eat, and that I'll probably have to ask a bunch of questions when I go out, because I want to make sure that my food is prepared in a manner which does not conflict with my chosen diet. However, I make other choices, because my beliefs are that important to me.
Another example, one that probably is more accurate. I'm trying to lose weight. This means that, if I go to a restaurant with my friends, I should probably not order a big-ass cheeseburger and fries, but should instead stick with a salad or some sort of lighter entrée…or eat beforehand and just have a beverage. Not being able to eat every single thing I want is a consequence I must face if I want to be thinner.
Finally, consider those people whose religious beliefs prohibit certain foods, or contain rules about their preparation. They either open their own restaurants (i.e., kosher), or know what foods and restaurants to avoid so that their dietary laws can be followed.
To me, this means if you're against the killing of animals and don't want to buy a car with leather seats, you don't buy cars that only come with leather seats. You don't pester the shit out of the manufacturer until you get your own way…just like you should not pester restaurants to offer options for every possible dietary quirk. You find alternatives. A huge victory for animal rights, my ass. I would guess that there are a very limited number of people who will choose this option. You might save a few cows. But huge? Get real.
My point is, if you believe a certain way, you have to take both the good and the bad that stem from that belief. I'm so sick of the whiny-ass people in the world who bitch about life not being fair and things not being exactly their way. I've worked for a number of these people. They think that, if they make a big enough stink about something (whether justified rationally or not), that eventually people will do what they say. Unfortunately, they're often right…and they get what they want because everyone is tired of listening to them complain.
If you believe something, by all means, it is your absolute prerogative to attempt to convince everyone you meet of the correctness of your viewpoint. It is not your right, however, to DEMAND that people believe the way you do. It's one thing if a large group of consumers of a product want something changed, and that change will financially benefit the company (i.e., Applebee's making Weight-Watchers friendly meals, Chili's with their low-carb menu, etc.) It's something else entirely, though, when you're doing something merely so a few people will shut the hell up.