Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies: As an on-line discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.
In September, 1998, a young female graduate from art school screwed up an interview for a position as a cartoonist. (See: This Judgemental Little Business for details) In a fit of pique, she uploaded a document entitled: This Sordid Little Business onto a web site wherein she placed the blame for her own failing during that interview upon innocent, unsuspecting parties rather than taking responsibility for a misfortune of her own making. Thus, was born a movement called the "Burned Furs". This "Curse of Furry-dom" quickly spawned a counter-movement that originally called itself the "Frozen Furs". Since this name was already in use by a Minnesota Furry group, the name became "Freezing Furs".
Freezing Furs? That hasta suck... So, what's this all about, then?
What it's all about is that furries everwhere are coming under attack right now thanks to a hate-group known as the Burned Fur Movement. This is a horrible, loveless group of close-minded, overly-opinionated and often militant people who are after attention in the worst ways. They are rallying support for a 'cleansing' of the fandom by trying to discount and remove the so-called 'perversions' that have been a wholly embraced and accepted part of the fandom since it's beginnings. What it all boils down to is this, they are against zoophiles, plushophiles, furry lifestylers, furry spiritualists, and any number of other 'deviations' from some kind of whipped-up furry social norm that they claim is the 'standard'. There is no standard in the furry fandom, our infinite difursity is what makes our group so incredible, don't let them tear us apart over intolerance and petty, angsty hatred. Can this kind of open hate group be allowed to exist in the fandom, and to spread their propaganda the way they do, gathering such a hopeless, mindless following? Sure, they have rights, but we can certainly give them a little shout back in mass numbers in an attempt to discredit them and impose a reverse social plague upon what they want you to think and believe. We're not here at the Freezing Furry movement to gain attention, but to disenvow these bastards who would take away our dreams like the Nazi's tried to over 50 years ago.
-- Freezing Furs Mission Statement
Jurann Foxtail: "Honestly, I was rather irrate when I first heard about them, I actually stumbled upon their page by clicking a link on the 'State of Furry Fandom' site."
It is unfortunate that Squee Rat chose to act with all the intelligence and maturity of a two year old when she didn't get her way. However this dumbass managed a most extraordinary accomplishment: he out-shrilled, out-emo'd, and out-immatured Squee Rat's original "manifesto" with his own. In the process, Jurann Foxtail not merely violated Godwin, but ass-raped him. Now whether this is something to be proud of is a whole 'nother story.
"What it's all about is that furries everwhere are coming under attack right now thanks to a hate-group known as the Burned Fur Movement."
Now hold it right there. The Burned Furs were certainly a lot of things: arrogant to the nth degree, a bunch of assholes who took it upon themselves to set a narrow, self-serving definition of what "Furry" means (all others need not apply) a royal PITA, intellectually dishonest, disingenuous, intolerant, and a big suck on a sour lemon. A hate group they were not. This accusation was an act of monumental stupidity and played right into Peter "Hangdog" Schorn's paw. Hangdog repeatedly challenged anyone who accused the Burned Furs of being a "hate group" to report the group to the Southern Poverty Law Center (tracks hate groups active in the USA) and/or the FBI. Hell, he even gave out the address and phone number of his local FBI field office! Of course, nofur actually did this (or admitted to it). After all, this would be like getting the SPLC involved in a Trekkie dispute over who's the better captain: Kirk or Picard. They don't give a rat's ass about internal fandom politics. Make no mistake about this: it was strictly internal fandom politics. This false, overblown accusation, in turn, allowed Hangdog to appear to be much less whacko than he really was. It gave the BFs the appearance of being the "victims" (which is precisely how they misrepresented themselves) rather than the victimizers. It allowed them to represent themselves as Furry-dom's "voice of reason". This was a monumental tactical mistake.
Then there's the matter of Spirit Animals. I don't have one. I don't want one, I don't need one. And according to some, that disqualifies me as a furry. Gee, didn't realize I had to realign my entire belief system to ensure acceptance into an already-decrepit fanbase. Once again, the question of personal tastes intruding on a once-meaningful practice comes to mind. You'll find a good thousand spastics claiming the protection of the Fox, But I've yet to hear a furry fan thank the Earwig Spirit for his wisdom. Yes, I'm taunting you. Cope.
This Sordid Little Business
Here is where the BFs came closest to being a hate group. However, you can criticize Judaism, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Hindu, Islam, etc. and ad infinitum, and still not be a hate group. Now, if you cross the line and do something overt and unlawful, then that's a whole 'nother story. Call the Greek Orthodox "schismatics" and hell-bound sinners unless they submit to the Pope? OK. Burn down a Greek Orthodox church? Not OK. Call Furry Spiritualists "spastics"? Border line: this is hateful, intolerant, name-calling, as opposed to legitimate criticism of the belief. Physically assault Furry Spiritualists while taunting them that their Spirit Animals aren't coming to their rescue? Not OK; now you are a hate group. For all their faults, the BFs never did any such thing. (Given the whackos and lunatics that comprised the leadership and parts of the membership, it's a damn miracle that something like this didn't happen. I guess our Spirit Animals were looking out for us after all.)
"This is a horrible, loveless group of close-minded, overly-opinionated and often militant people who are after attention in the worst ways"
These are opinions. One man's "horrible" is another's mere "yuckie", or "so-so", or "wonderful". "Loveless group": yes they were. So are the Elks, The Rotary Int'l, etc. Groups can't love; only individuals can do that. "Close-minded": all of them? "Overly-opinionated": was there no possibility that they could have been underly-opinionated? According to what standard? "Militant people": at this time, they had not been in existence long enough to do anything "militant". Being an asshole on the 'Net isn't being "militant". It's just being a dipshit flame warrior who gets his rocks off by posting bullshit to a Usenet group. Having spent quite some time sifting through the ashes of the Great Internet Furry Flame War, I can assure you, there was no lack of that on both sides.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
-- Sun Tzu
This is what the Freezing Furs, and every other opponent of the Burned Furs forgot. In going over cached Usenet posts, I have seen one opportunity after another completely lost. There were openings left unexploited, main arguments lost by wrangling over peripheral issues, lots of playing straight into the strengths of the Burned Fur position. It could have been avoided simply if more folks had given the matter even a modicum of thought before engaging their key boards. The pure dumbass-ery coming from both sides was almost enough to make me ashamed to call myself a Fur. We Furs fucked this up, big time. Had we handled the situation better (and there was a helluvalot of room for improvement) we could have avoided half a decade's worth of bullshit publicity.
In the final analysis, we did it to ourselves.
Ideology - that is what gives devildoing its long sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others' eyes, so that he won't hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors.
Here, we see the evil of ideology in action, again, on both sides. The Freezing Furs demonized and dehumanized other people into a faceless mass of enemy others, reducing them to a label: "Burned Furs". This was the same thing they did. Wasn't their demonization and dehumanization of those on their shit list the very thing that gave the Burned Furs all the charm of a paper cut? Everyfur: the one and only situation where two wrongs make a right is algebra. Once demonization has been accomplished, all bets are off. There are no longer any limits to what may be done in the name of your righteous cause. Indeed, we can be thankful that all the fighting was limited to the 'Net, and that a full-on riot didn't break out at one of the Confurences or other cons. You think Furry-dom has a PR problem now? It could have been a helluvalot worse. Be thankful that there are still Fur-cons. This is what happens when you play with the fire that is ideology. We were damn lucky that we all didn't wind up as "burned furs" -- burned by our over heated idiot-ologies.
They are rallying support for a 'cleansing' of the fandom by trying to discount and remove the so-called 'perversions' that have been a wholly embraced and accepted part of the fandom since it's beginnings. What it all boils down to is this, they are against zoophiles, plushophiles, furry lifestylers, furry spiritualists, and any number of other 'deviations' from some kind of whipped-up furry social norm that they claim is the 'standard'. There is no standard in the furry fandom, our infinite difursity is what makes our group so incredible, don't let them tear us apart over intolerance and petty, angsty hatred.
Of course, the BF's "manifestos" and other documents make a number of grandiose proclamations. However, what could they actually have done about it? If you are a plush-o-phile, could they kick down your door in the middle of the night and confiscate your love toys? That's trespass, breaking and entering, and theft. Those are crimes. How about the Otherkin/Weres/Therians and the Furry Spiritualists?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
If you live in the USA, you're in even better shape than the plush-o-philes. The Constitution guarantees your religious freedom. The other advanced countries, of course, have similar guarantees of religious freedom. Unless the BFs had actually had the Bill of Rights repealed, they could never get your beliefs outlawed. Barring that, there could never have been an "Inquisition" to ferret out these deviant believers. What the fuck could they do? What possible threat could they represent? That leaves just one possibility: being a total asshole who deliberately tries to hurt your feelings. It is your choice to grant them the power to hurt you. The alternative: just laugh at them, knowing that with every post, they are making themselves look more and more like total fuck-tards. Sometimes doing nothing is, by far, the sweetest revenge. This is still apropos to the situation today. The next time you're attempted to flame some fuck-tard from some Fur-bash web site or LiveJournal community, stop and think first: is it better to just let the fuck-tard discredit himself? Does it really do any good, to succeed and get them to moderate their Fur-bashing, so as to make it look less exaggerated to any mundanes who may be passing through?
The most vulnerable folks on the BF's shit list were, of course, the zoos. In many states and countries, fucking your dog is illegal. In those states where it isn't illegal, per se, animal cruelty laws might apply instead. I suppose it's possible that, if they could identify the RL person behind a handle, they could report Mr. Dogfucker to the appropriate authorities. There is no evidence that they did that.
So what it comes down to is that the Burned Fur Movement was utterly powerless in a fandom that has no organized structure. You are a Furry if you say you are a Furry. No one can take from you a membership that doesn't even exist. This is what rendered all that talk about "eliminating" and "pushing to the far outer fringes and rendering irrelevant" "Those elements" so much sound and fury signifying nothing. The only tool at their disposal was the Internet flame war.
"Sure, they [Burned Furs] have rights, but we can certainly give them a little shout back in mass numbers in an attempt to discredit them and impose a reverse social plague upon what they want you to think and believe"
Given that the BFs had but one weapon at their disposal, giving them a "shout back" was absolutely the worst possible mistake. Like all frustrated elitists, they craved attention -- to be taken seriously -- more than anything else. Shouting back was precisely what they wanted. Their defeat could have been certain, and swift enough to have prevented all that bad publicity. It would have been so simple, if not so easy. What we Furries should have done was to erect a wall of silence to box them in. That means no return posting regardless of how outrageous the BF's posts. No answering them on IRC. No discussions about them. If they had gotten onto FurryMUCK, then simply continue, posting around them without answering. Of course, there is no guarantee that they wouldn't've tried something more overt once they realized that their trolling was having no effect. Then, again, any misbehaviour at a con, or elsewhere in public, could have been dealt with by the con staff and hotel security or the police. Had Furry-dom answered the Burned Furs with icy cold silence, they would -- in all probability -- have been gone within two months. That might even have been quite entertaining: watching the implosion of all those grandiose egos in one final, supernova of angst and frustration.
The one and only message that would've convinced them to get the hell out of our fandom is NO message at all.
Now, I'm not saying that would have been easy. Certainly it takes a bit of fortitude to ignore a post that's calling you a "perv" by name on Usenet or IRC. The strategy wouldn't need to be perfect, just applied with some regularity. The occasional slip and a post fired back in anger is inevitable. What is not inevitable, or unpreventable, is recognizing the error and not allowing BF posters to fill threads with hundreds of posts. There was no need to keep going on and on, until Usenet threads were well into the hundreds, about the same old bullshit. All that did was cause search engines to associate "Furry" with "perversion", "zoophile", "bestiality", due to the sheer number of times those words appeared on AFF or ALF. And by now, we all know where that led.
It is essential that this lesson be learned. Despite all their many manifest deficiencies: the lack of intellectual honesty, the lack of integrity (Burned Fur leader Lancid posted "death threats" to himself on ALF to attempt to smear the Lifestylers) the lack of a clear plan of action (the Burned Furs' "manifesto", "mission statement", and web site "FAQ" are all contradictory and at odds with one another) everything they did was negative and destructive -- nothing positive -- the psychological instability and "messiah complexes" of the key leadership, the grandiose over-reach, the Burned Furs were successful for over two years. They were successful since, either by design, or pure dumb luck (I haven't decided which is which here) they tapped into that very real desire of the human animal to fit in with the pack. The false promise of Burned Fur is that acceptance of "normality" could be purchased at the price of joining the PaL in ridiculing the "deviant" elements within Furry. What these well meaning, but naive, rank and file Burned Furs failed to understand is that, to the PaL, Furry, per se, is "deviant". In the end, the Burned Furs found themselves just as large a target for mundane ridicule -- if not more so -- than unburned Furs. The BFM's one and only accomplishment was to make the whole of Furry look even freakier than before they ever got started. The mundanes understood this far better than any BF leader or member. By the time these well meaning BFs realized this, and the BFM had begun hemorrhaging members, it was too late to head off the PR disaster. Before the final implosion of the BFM, a sleazy pornographer had already made that MTV "documentary": Plushies and Furries.
We Furries take pride in our individuality, our non-conformity, that sets us apart from the mundane mainstream. And yet, we desire that that very same mainstream see us as being "normal". It ain't gonna happen, folks. If you want acceptance that you are "normal" that much, then your one and only recourse is to leave our fandom. The best we can do is to correct, in a calm, rational manner, any misconceptions on the part of the mundanes. If approached in the right way, they will at least make the attempt to understand. The Great Internet Furry Flame War ended five years ago. More than enough time for the memory of the old-timers to dim, and for the post-GIFFW to become disgusted with a whole bunch of bad publicity, the origins of which they don't understand. Time enough for some other bunch of demagogues to sing the siren song of mainstream acceptance by simply turning on your fellow Furries. The next time, they might even be more competent than the Burned Furs turned out to be.
The mundanes can learn to tolerate you. They will not embrace you. Not for the foreseeable future.
YOU WILL NEVER WIN THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE PUBLIC-AT-LARGE BY SACRIFICING (i.e. by joining the PaL in ridiculing and ostracizing) YOUR FELLOW FURRIES.