OUR VIEW: Morgan fur didn't flyBy Standard-Examiner staff
Morgan County offered residents, activists and other onlookers an old-fashioned lesson in peaceful confrontational democracy last Saturday, and both sides of the argument deserve a lot of credit for keeping emotional temperatures under control.
Animal rights activists marched and shouted in the heart of mink country, banging drums and loudly chanting the evils of fur coats and mink farms. The fur protesters didn't have the field to themselves. The farmers had their defenders.
Chants such as "1-2-3-4, this is a fur war!" from anti-fur marchers were met with comments such as, "They are young, they don't know what they are doing," from Seth Dawson of the Dawson family fur farm. The protest was dotted with competing signs, such as "We love farmers" and "God hates fur."
During the march, activists from the Salt Lake Animal Advocacy Movement (SLAAM) engaged in several heated debates with Morgan County residents. There were attempts to intimidate, including some body bumps and face-to-face shouts, but the event proved to be a respectful protest. Both sides of the contentious issue had their say.
In fact, one could even say the march and protest was more composed than the BYU, Utah football game the same day 100 miles to the south. In that game, a lot of personal fouls were called. In contrast, protesters and Morgan County residents and law enforcement kept their cool and in the end, there were no arrests.
According to Morgan County Sheriff Gene Ercanbrack, there hadn't been a fur protest in Morgan for at least 10 years. Before it occurred, Morgan authorities had tried to restrict the march and where the protest could occur. Fortunately, a judge settled the dispute without damaging marchers' freedom of speech rights.
Fur farming is a very passionate issue and given the behavior of some animal rights activists in the past, credit must also go to Morgan law enforcement officials, as well as Weber County sheriff's deputies, for helping to keep the march under control.