Lightning Rod

Published on July 15, 2015
Always in Vogue tweeted a photo Saturday afternoon of Rod Stewart wearing a sealskin jacket next to Vogue’s Darren Halloran.

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

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.