How have you been? Merry Christmas!
I come to you with a question about an incident which has shocked me quite a lot. As you are probably already aware, this year's MFF convention suffered what many consider to be a 'terrorist attack'. Someone unleashed chlorine gas which caused the evacuation of the hotel, disrupted the convention and sent 19 people to hospital.
Now, I am perfectly aware that the fandom is not lacking in haters. I have even stopped trying to explain what the fandom is when asked, due to the fact that most people are already influenced by third parties to think that all furries are perverts and whatnot. The only answer I give nowadays is “If you are not part of the fandom, you won't understand. So do not bother.”
I, for one, am perplexed with my own reaction to non-Furries. A few years ago, I would love to explain the fandom to others. About a furry's fondness of anthropomorphic animals, cartoons, art, and others. But every time I go online nowadays I find myself intoxicated with hate messages. Messages saying that all furries suffer from autism, or have mental disabilities, or are zoophiles. And that makes me feel like a freak. Just because I love the fandom and I love to be a Furry.
In the end, these repetitive incidents made me a bitter Furry. I antagonize non-Furry people with ease as soon as I am asked about the Furry Fandom, for I immediately think 'Potential hater right here!'
And now, the attack on MFF only increased my bitterness, especially because I keep seeing people post comments such as “The guy who did this deserves a medal!” or “You only hospitalized 19? Try harder!” Only one thought flows through my mind. Revenge. If we are being attacked, should we not fight back? I do not mean that we should respond with violence (although I really want to), but should we not find some sort of deterrent to prevent possible future attacks? The best defense is a good offense, yes?
I need your help to figure out how to change my attitude to non-Furry people. How can I go back to being optimistic about non-Furry people instead of despising them due to generalizations and misconceptions?
Thank you, and once again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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Many furries know about the incident at the Hyatt Regency in Rosemont, Illinois, but for those who don’t, please read the post on the Midwest Fur Fest site here: http://furfest.org/index.php.
I think this is a good letter to end 2014 with because we can talk about some serious stuff here. Let me begin by saying that we should never assume guilt on anyone’s part without knowing the facts, and the facts of this case (who did it) have yet to be revealed. The person who set off that primitive chlorine device could have been a mundane or another furry. Some furries, you know, can be butt-munchers. It might have been a furry being pissed off at other furries and doing something very stupid and harmful while in a drunk and stupid state of mind.
So, before you go out seeking revenge—violent or otherwise—don’t go off half-cocked.
Even if the perp is some nasty mundane person, violence and revenge are never the answer. Once you start down that path, the result is an endless cycle of hurting, revenge, more hurting. It’s easy to provide examples of this, such as what has been going on in the Middle East for generations and the continued racial tensions in this country.
Only a few great men, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, have advocated the real solution to the violence cycle, and that is organized mass nonviolent protest. Imagine, if you would, if people finally got fed up with the Koch Brothers, Congress, the Waltons, the Rothschilds, etc., turned off their TVs and all together refused to work, buy gasoline, go to Walmart, attend sporting events and movies, and just sat down and said, “We’re not going to be your wage slaves anymore. You must fix this broken government and stop giving every advantage to the 1% or this country will collapse under the united weight of the people.” What are they going to do? Bring in the National Guard? And do what? Start beating and shooting people who are just sitting around? Throw us in prison? Confine us in football stadiums like they did in New Orleans? Even though the powerful elite have the police and army on their side, less than 1% of the population of this country constitutes “law enforcement” and the military. We are the 99% and if we would wake up we could create a sea change.
Similarly, if you are upset with mundanes, violence is not the answer. Education can go a long way. For example, I am starting work on The Furry Book, which I intend to be a guide to the fandom for furries and nonfurries alike. I understand there’s another furry out there doing the same thing, which is fine. The more books the merrier :-) Even so, and even if such books help make people understand us more, there will always be some prejudice and misunderstanding.
That said, I must say this as well: compared to, oh, say, 400 years of slavery and another century and more of injustice that the black community has endured in this country, we certainly have nothing to complain about. Not to lightly dismiss the people injured, but a chlorine gas bomb and some people calling us furverts or retards or social rejects in no way compares to the incredible injustices perpetrated against minorities in this country. From African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics and Asians to women, the poor, and the LGBT community, U.S. history is a study in injustice slathered in a thick, sugary frosting of haughty self-righteousness and blind patriotism. Even so, incredibly, this is still one of the best countries to live in because we have, in many ways, improved over the centuries (although recently we’re seeing our progress take a step backward). The stability of this nation depends upon the wisdom of the Constitution, which must be vigorously defended. Our salvation rests on the hope that the populace will not remain apathetic to what is happening and that we will—hopefully soon—rise up against the current problems facing our nation, the most important of which is the division between a small, tyrannical, self-entitled, wealthy elite and the majority of our citizens.
The purpose of my digression here is to give you some perspective. The troubles of the furry fandom are minor, at best. By and large, acceptance of furries is growing. We have conventions all over the U.S. and the world, and mundanes are starting to see some economic advantages to this—and we all know that money talks. If you walk into a diner wearing a fursuit, you might hear some giggles, but the manager isn’t going to tell you he won’t serve you food, and there are no signs on bathroom doors or water fountains saying “no furries.”
I’m a bit puzzled, admittedly, by your apparent experience with hatred from the mundanes. I don’t know where you are going on the Internet to get such reactions, but I have not had such a negative experience myself. My experience has ranged from fascination and acceptance to, at worst, puzzlement, amusement, and indifference. No active hatred. I might suggest you take a look at the sources of this ire and develop a new strategy for how you interact with people on the Internet.
In closing, I disagree with your statement that the best defense is a strong offense, if you mean that the offense is designed to hurt other people. If, on the other hand, you mean a strong offense of education, love, and patience, I would concur.
As we close the book on 2014, let’s try to take a lesson from its pages. There is enough hatred in this world that we do not need to add to it. When we let other people’s actions harden are hearts and souls, when we allow them to make us fearful, bitter, or angry, then we have already lost the battle.
My wish to you and all my friends out there, furry and not, is that you find a way to fill your hearts with love. On the surface, that might sound naive and simplistic, but, actually, it is the most hard-won strategy of them all. A wise man once said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Over 2,000 years later, most of us still need to learn that lesson.
Love you all. Happy New Year!
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.