[Note: I want to thank all those who have offered comments at the end of this article. The information I wrote about some of these cons was brought to me by various furries and online articles. I was not at RMFC or the early ConFurence I mention here, or, indeed, any of these cons. In the end, however, it it not important who, exactly, did what to whom. There are two undeniable facts: 1) several furcons have been cancelled over the last couple years; 2) the fact that they were cancelled is NOT because the mundane community banned furries; it IS because, in one way or another, furries behaved badly. It might be that three conventions being cancelled in three years is just a coincidence, but it seems to me that this is an escalating symptom of a phenomenon I am seeing, and that is that the fandom has grown so large that it is getting out of control. What the solution is, I'm not sure, but I think we need to start addressing this in a serious manner.]
I need to pause here and take a breath. There have been some sad developments in the furry world over the last two years or so, and I am going to state my opinion about it so my readers know where I stand.
As any furry who pays attention knows, three furcons have now shut down due to bad behavior: Rainfurrest, Oklacon, and, very recently, Rocky Mountain Fur Con. In the first case, the con got out of hand when a bunch of furries trashed hotel rooms, costing the hotel a lot of money, and also indulged in bad (sometimes gross) behavior in the lobby and public areas. In the case of the Colorado con, it seems to be a combination of the actions of a group calling itself the "Furry Raiders" (I've also heard the name #AltFurry), an apparently new group that supports right-wing principles and is opposed to what is, really, a rather liberal social group, as well as furcon admins who didn't pay federal taxes. One admin has also been involved in sex with a minor and (not sure if it's the same person) is connected to the Furry Raiders, allowing them to reserve a block of rooms that ended up excluding other furries and that, in turn, resulted in threats of violence.
Here's a good article about what happened at RMFC.
Also, in 2014, Oklacon was menaced by drunk furries who engaged in public sex acts that forced the con to shut its doors the next year.
And then there is the incident at Midwest Furfest during which someone released chlorine gas in a stairwell. You will notice, though, that MFF is still running. Why? Because it is a great example of a well-run furry convention (kudos to the staff). Something happened that was beyond their control, but they quickly managed the situation and the result was that this convention is still around for good furries to enjoy.
While all this saddens Papabear, I'm not really surprised this has happened. The fandom has grown so large and is sans any kind of controls or rules or regulation that unsavory elements have inevitably infiltrated our ranks. Such a lackadaisical approach is the result of a permissive culture that abhors societal restriction (much like the hippie generation). I get that, but there comes a point when being too laid back is a problem.
Like a parent who allows her children to do whatever they want, the result is a bunch of spoiled, self-entitled brats who think they can do whatever they like, even if it is harmful to others.
It is more important than ever for those who run conventions to be vigilant. It is not impossible to run a large con efficiently and well. Anthrocon had 7,310 attendees in 2016 and you saw nothing like what happened at Rainfurrest or Oklacon. This result is directly attributable to those who run the con.
The danger of having badly run furcons is not just that they will close but that they will give all conventions and the fandom a bad name.
[Note: Dogpatch Press published a good article about how false rumors can also spread about cons, however.]
The preventative is vigilance. The Rainfurrest organizers were overly indulgent with attendees (public drunkenness was rampant); the RMFC staff permitted bad behavior on the part of the Furry Raiders and also either didn't do a background check or didn't care that someone in their ranks had a criminal record.
Frankly, these conventions deserved to close. If you can't do it right, then you shouldn't do it.
Convention founders and administrators need to have enough gumption to ban furries or groups of furries from joining in on the fun if they have proven themselves to be a problem. (For example, if a group espouses hate, violence, or prejudice towards others, that should be a clue they are not good furries and should not be permitted into a convention). RMFC had the opportunity to do this with the Furry Raiders group, but they backed off and suffered the consequences. (To be fair here, after talking to more people who were there, bad behavior was also demonstrated by anti-Furry Raiders people, one of whom tried to throw a punch).
No apologies should be necessary when it comes to who you allow into your organized, private function. Furry conventions have a right to ban anyone they wish for the good of the attendees who simply want to have a good time.
We need to seek an answer to this problem now before it escalates any further. My (admittedly, unasked for) advice? I would propose that an organization be created that includes all those who run or wish to run a furry convention (it would be great if this could include furries from all over the world). The purpose of this organization would be to:
The days are past when furcons could operate just fine in isolation from one another.
[NOTE: In light of the comment added by Smash in the comments below, the above is obviously a good idea that is already in existence (never said I was original LOL). Funny that I have not heard about the Furry Convention Leadership Roundtable before, even though it was founded back in 2010! I'm sure the members of that group have been talking about recent events. Would be interesting if they could maybe be a little more public about it. Good for them for organizing the FCLR! Kudos all around, and I wish them success in the future.]
When I talk to furries and ask them what they like about the fandom, one of the frequent answers is that they enjoy the camaraderie and the fact that furries accept everyone. Indeed, that should be the spirit of furry. You might think that I am against the Furry Raiders' conservative values and that's why I'm ripping on them here. Not at all. If you want to be a conservative furry and vote for Donald Trump, go for it. But don't espouse hatred. Don't threaten violence against other furries. Don't reserve a block of rooms for the purpose of keeping furries you don't like from attending. Such behavior is obviously unacceptable and should be rejected by all good furries everywhere.
The furry fandom is supposed to be a world where people can escape from the nonsense of hatred and prejudice that plagues the rest of society. Yes, of course, furries are humans and subject to human flaws, but that doesn't mean we can't strive to be better than that. It takes work, and the more furries there are in the world the more work it will take.
I think it's worth the effort.
[Thanks for all the comments below. I've gotten a few things incorrect, apparently, but was simply reporting what I had heard from people who said they were there. I'm getting some different stories from other people who also said they were there. Details. Well, let's forego all the details. The point is, that furcons have been and are being taken down by furries who can't behave themselves. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed by the community. A good start would be the Furry Convention Leadership Roundtable.]
4/12/2017 12:18:32 pm
An organization you describe already exists, it's called the Furry COnvention leadership Roundtable, or FCLR. They do all you describe, except keep a running dabase of fans. They have been asked about it in the past. They have their reasons for not wanting to do that, mostly being concerns over legal issues, but perhaps after RMFC it is time they revisit this.
4/12/2017 12:20:45 pm
I would be curious to know if any of the RMFC, RF, or Oklacon organizers were involved in RCLR, and if so, how seriously did they take it?
4/12/2017 12:21:26 pm
Sorry for my typos
4/12/2017 12:28:17 pm
Excellent! Thanks for posting!
Some inaccuracies here just FYI :)
4/12/2017 12:38:25 pm
The BDSM stuff was told to me whom I consider a reliable source and was involved with ConFurence back then. I saw pics of people at Rainfurrest with diapers on and I'm sure that didn't appeal to the hotel. Yes, vandalism was the main reason, but the diaper thing didn't help at all. The Oklacon officials themselves said that the public sex was the cause; I call that a menace.
4/13/2017 01:32:34 pm
I was at the con and there were a few guys wore leather the lobby and it isn't anything that hasn't happened at other cons since. I think people were way too scandalized by it at the time.
People who were involved with ConFurence back then spread the false rumors... here's a debunking
4/12/2017 04:06:54 pm
Hotels make a LOT of money off furry cons. RF's hotel relationship did erode year over year, but when you sell out the hotel, somethings are tolerated..... to a point. If the hotel is still profiting a lot, then that point may take a long time to reach. But in the case of RF, what was the last straw was the vandalism in a bathroom was so bad that it flooded the downstairs computer systems with water, and actually did critical operational damage to the hotel that was way beyond the acceptable limits of wear and tear from a rowdy event. The vandalism went beyond what could be fixed quickly, and impinged on future events at that hotel, and it's ability to execute day to day operations.
4/12/2017 04:33:02 pm
oh, yes, absolutely the vandalism was the worst of it.
4/12/2017 07:30:08 pm
Sadly, Rainfurrest had years of bad things going on. The fact is, the hotel probably would have gotten over the BDSM stuff, had it not been for the huge amount of damage done. From what I recall, many hot tub pump systems were plugged up causing flooding, which leaked into offices and computer banks bellow. This caused furry twitter users to believe it was on purpose. Even worse, when RF tried to move hotels, there were reports that many of the other hotels in the area had received calls about it. Living in this area, I see a lot of comments about it, even now. There's talks of a new con that supposedly will "ban" sexual acts and content, drug and alcohol use, and even have a curfew. I am not sure my sources are 100% reliable, but when people talk enough, you might want to listen
4/12/2017 01:26:08 pm
There were three major factors that caused the decline and final close of RMFC. It's easy to get lost in all the he said she said going on. The jist of it is though is things could have been handled differently or better. By all parties involved.
4/12/2017 03:53:22 pm
I'm not sure who the chairman of MFF was in 2014, but it wasn't Gir Tygrin (former chair of FCN). Woody was the most recent chair, with Kodi being the 2017 chair.
4/12/2017 04:32:28 pm
Ah, it was Gir a few years back when I attended. Things change.
4/13/2017 06:47:06 am
Gyr was chairman of FCN thew entire run of FCN. Gyr was never the Chair for MFF,MFF has rotating chars that come form the Board of Directors.
4/13/2017 06:21:33 am
We furries are seemly caught between those who love the fandom, such as myself, and those who wish only to destroy it. I agree with everything you said, we need to stand up and take responsibility for our own actions. As for the ones who didn't file taxes the IRS will get them eventually.
4/13/2017 01:14:11 pm
> ConFurence when the organizers allowed some BDSM people in to improve attendance,
4/14/2017 03:06:08 am
Nice article, very intesting how the actions of the "anti-nazi" group were left out of the combination of things that caused RMFC's shut down. But hey, they are "anti-nazi" extremist furs and should get a pass even when they are just as bad as the "nazi" furs...............
4/15/2017 11:23:58 am
@ Papa Bear. Actually it was the founder of RMFC who was charged with sexual contact with a minor so he was forced to stepdown as founding CEO and someone else to replace him but they still used him as an advisor as the two furry news sites reported. I've also herd word that the female fur who got caught up in the mess with Furry Raiders and RMFC is leaving Facebook through someone in an Furry Discord group I am in. I don't want to name names since the source is close to the female fur who is caught up in the mess. Hope the furry fandom survives this drama storm and other furcons learn from the reason why some furcons had shut down. =^.^=
4/15/2017 02:25:18 pm
A lot of these comments seem to be attempting to make corrections about Papabears article. And I'm glad people are contributing; that's precisely the idea of a comment section.
4/28/2017 04:22:36 pm
So there are a lot of facts that are skewed. Articles claimed there was tax evasion when in the same article Sorin was quoted as saying Taxes were paid current as of May 2015 as though they were a standard business since 2011 and they were still going to file 2016 shortly.
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