Lightning Rod

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There’s an old saying that, when you find yourself in a hole, the best thing to do is to stop digging.

Always in Vogue tweeted a photo Saturday afternoon of Rod Stewart wearing a sealskin jacket next to Vogue’s Darren Halloran.

So let’s stop digging.

On Saturday, pretty much all of the media ran a cheesy little story about Rod Stewart showing up downtown and trying on a sealskin jacket. The story came after Always in Vogue Tweeted a picture of the rocker showing Stewart dressed in one of their pieces.

The rocker’s entourage was there to get fitted for warmer clothing for the Saturday night concert. They went with red cashmere capes, rather than sealskin.

But the Twitter photograph made it onto the websites of CBC, VOCM and The Telegram, where the comments were, at first, supportive of Stewart, saying it was laudable that he recognized the value and sustainability of the sealing industry.

But those initial comments were soon overtaken by broader-based outrage: outrage from people opposed to the seal hunt, and then, predictably enough, from an anti-seal hunt industry that is always looking for a new hook for their cause.

Related story: Stewart does not support seal industry

Even seal hunt opponent Paul Watson got in on the attack, firing off a statement on his Facebook page saying, in part, “So in a world aware of the slaughter, aware of the cruelty, in pops Rod Stewart into a sealskin shop in Newfoundland to get fitted out in sealskin. You see Rod Stewart simply does not give a damn. He’s in the Ted Nugent, Kid Rock school of rock musicians who have hearts of stone and blood on their hands and thrive on the sadistic thrill it gives them to be known for their lack of empathy and kindness. …

“I have taken the liberty of notifying the U.S. Department of Commerce and the British Customs about the possibility of Rod Stewart smuggling a sealskin jacket into Europe or America. It is illegal to do so and the jacket would be subject to confiscation if declared, and there could be an arrest if not declared.”

Of course, if Watson had read the rest of the stories, he might have realized that Stewart merely tried on a jacket, so there was no need to inform any authorities.

Fact is, Stewart might well regret injecting himself into this particular debate. Online, at least, some former fans claim they are destroying his records and promising never to attend one of his concerts again. Seems like a hefty amount of rhetoric for trying on a jacket in a store.

But, then again, facts are not necessary here. This is a public relations battle where truth is the first casualty.

Lighting the fire over and over again lets us keep digging in the same hole.

Whatever gain is made by having a rock star don a seal coat seems destined to be overrun by the sheer volume and outrage of the reaction in opposition.

One step forward, 12 steps back. If the seal industry is going to survive, it has to survive on its own merits and markets — starting our own public relations war is a losing cause.

It’s time to stop digging this particular hole.

Organizations: CBC, Kid Rock school, Department of Commerce

Geographic location: America, Newfoundland, Europe

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Recent comments

  • Nfldborn
    July 16, 2015 - 06:50

    I can't believe this is still a topic of conversation here. Good for Rod Stewart to go into a local business (whatever it may be). He could be a singer who flies in to do a concert and goes again. I have heard people complaining about that too. Like the saying goes, damned if you do - damned if you don't. I think our time would be better spent on more important things going on here in NL. I believe social media is to blame for this, as if the picture wasn't shared on twitter and facebook, etc. no one would be the wiser. Thanks Rod for a fantastic show!!

  • MagiCartier
    July 15, 2015 - 14:25

    Can I ask Maggy Carter why she/he needs to write such long comments?

  • Samuel
    July 15, 2015 - 14:20

    Kudos to Darren Halloran for his handling of this situation. I am impressed by the self-confidence, business smarts and communication skills of our young people in this province. No reflection on previous generations but clearly we're seeing a level of sophistication that I don't think existed even twenty years ago. I like Stewart's music and he seems like a nice guy, but can anyone doubt he was unaware the coat was sealskin or that his picture - taken anywhere by anyone - could wind up online? Halloran did what any other entrepreneur would do when a celebrity pays a visit and poses for a photo. You share it with the world in part, of course, because you know it's good for business. It's left to the likes of Watson to turn what is an innocent encounter into something sinister. Stewart took the easy way out and Halloran was gracious enough to empathize with his predicament. No ill will on either side, I'm sure, no matter what the rocker might have said to escape the wrath of the anti-fur fanatics. My guess is Watson's attack will have no effect on ticket sales for Stewart's concerts but in all likelihood it will bring at least a little more business to Vogue. Good day all around.

  • RipTide
    July 15, 2015 - 13:27

    You see, it's not the seal coat. Stewart is innocent of the sometimes vicious attacks against him, when he really did nothing at all. But, stressed out, angry, frustrated, discontent, unhappy individuals look for a channel, an excuse to vent, and vent they did, using the frivolous excuse of Stewart trying on a jacket. Same thing when Don Cherry mentioned seal meat. And Watson, an opportunist, took advantage of it all to gain support for his agendas, whatever they may be.

  • Patti
    July 15, 2015 - 11:29

    So Stewart walks into a store, gets coerced into trying on a jacket, some idiot snaps a photo & he leaves store with never having any intention of purchasing the damn thing in the first place. He didn't buy it folks. Snap out of it! There's nothing to see here...move along. There is actually NO story here. Complete dribble. There's much more important things in this world to worry about.

    • McLovin
      July 15, 2015 - 13:17

      Vogue made it a story when they tweeted the photo!

  • david
    July 15, 2015 - 11:06

    Another has-been rocker came to SJ, hauled in a big shovlefull of our sad little island's cash, and left with it. Again. If at this point in the 'proceedings' you are concerned about whether or not this particular entertainer gives a rat's pitutty about sealing, or anything else that ever goes on here, that says a lot more about your limited self-awareness than Rod Stewart's values.

  • Maggy Carter
    July 15, 2015 - 09:11

    Mr. Jackson I presume? This editorial is a thinly disguised but nonetheless odious slight against the seal fishery and the people engaged in it - including Vogue. You might have used the opportunity to deplore the tactics of the rabid anti-meat, anti-fur industry. Witness the immediate call to arms and character assassination of a celebrity who dares even show curiosity toward seal products. And while I might be disappointed that Stewart's handlers opted so quickly for full retreat, I also understand the risks he faces from the social media firestorm ignited by Watson. Your newspaper added to that firestorm by repeating Watson's baseless accusation that Stewart supported the slaughter of baby seals. Indeed you were so accommodating of Watson's invective as to include a link to his Facebook page for a more thorough read. Other than defending Stewart on the grounds that he had only tried on the coat (which has me wondering where you would have gone had he bought one), you did nothing to counter Watson's blatant misrepresentation of the industry or condemn his viciousness. Your admonitions, rather, were reserved for locals - like Mr. Halloran - for daring to speak up for the industry, for promoting our culture and its products, and for showing the other side of the anti-sealing crusade. Your message was clear: shut-up and conduct your business, if you must, underground so as not to attract attention. We shouldn't be surprised. This is the newspaper that has repeatedly provided a forum for groups like the IFAW to recruit followers and pull in more cash on the backs of our fishermen. Your 'hole digging' metaphor misses the mark; my choice would be 'with friends like you, who needs enemies?'

    • Moderator
      July 15, 2015 - 09:53

      Peter Jackson is on vacation. He did not write this editorial.

    • Oh my
      July 15, 2015 - 17:19

      Overreaction much?

  • Marie
    July 15, 2015 - 07:42

    Well said.

  • Chris
    July 15, 2015 - 07:13

    Can we take this as a pledge that you won't print anymore articles about what celebs may or may not think about the seal hunt?

  • McLovin
    July 15, 2015 - 07:03

    We are our own worst enemies. Justified or not, we can't keep flaunting the seal hunt in the rest of the world's face and expect people not to express their opinions about it. Watch all the locals flock to Vogue now and buy up all the sealskin products out of spite. Can't buy advertising like this. Well done Vogue!!