The Furry Fandom

Politics? In My Fandom?

I dislike politics in general.

That doesn’t mean I don’t write about it when it’s relevant, but I’m always less happy with any of my writing that touches on these subjects. I usually feel obligated to condemn these pieces to Draft status in perpetuity.

It’d be great if we lived in a world where I could opt out of political discourse entirely, but that only exists when you have the systemic advantage in our imperfect society. And since me being LGBTQIA+ is unavoidably political, and we’re a minority, opting out of politics means submitting to whatever dark fate toxic people decide I deserve.

A fate–by the by–which looks like this:

And that’s just what they think they can get away with in the near future. That’s not to mention what the Trump administration has already done to hurt the LGBTQIA+ community.

Now, you’d think that the furry fandom–a community that is at least 80% LGBTQIA+— would be loudly and consistently opposed to bigotry in all forms.

(Drumroll, please?)

The creator of the Rexouium species in VRChat is strongly anti-gay, and in the species’ official Discord you can discuss lots of things, but not homosexuality (this isn’t about NSFW or not, that’s a separate rule).

I tried bringing this up privately, but most folks said “…so?”

— Silver Eagle (@SilverEagleDev) October 11, 2020

Archived here

Isn’t that just delightful? Oh, and don’t worry, the guy in question later changed the rule from “homosexual content” to “immoral sexual behavior”.

smh (Art by Khia.)

And then (if that weren’t vexing enough) some random furry decided–in response to Silver complaining about that dude’s conduct–to spite-buy a model from the homophobic bottom-feeder, thereby rewarding the dude because “cancel culture” or something.

Furries supporting anti-LGBTQIA+ bigotry out of spite is oddly reminiscent of bigots spite-supporting Chick-Fil-A despite its history of donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations.

As I’m writing this, we’re also a few weeks away from another election in the United States, and on day two of Senate hearings to nominate yet another conservative to the highest court in the land.

So, to my chagrin, let’s talk about politics–a necessary evil because there’s so much unnecessary evil when we don’t talk about it.

My Political Positions

Rather than leave divining my political values as an exercise to the reader, let’s just get some of this out of the way up front. If you don’t particularly care, feel free to skip to the next header.

I’m in favor of responsible gun ownership and the right to self-defense, science-directed education efforts, decriminalization and legalization (but regulation!) of most controlled substances, restorative justice for past criminal offenders, universal health care, reducing police funding to funnel it into social workers to care for our communities in ways that armed cops can never provide, legal and social recognition of polyamory as a valid relationship style, racial and gender equality, encryption and online privacy protections, and equal rights and necessary legal protections for LGBTQIA+ people.

I’ll cover what I’m opposed to later, but if you’re looking to pigeonhole me into some convenient label, the answer you’re looking for is whatever the sum of all that is.

I personally don’t care for labels. That isn’t to say I don’t take sides in a conflict, but that I don’t anchor my personal identity and sense of purpose in life to an ideological tribe. And most of the labels people use are a poor fit for my opinions at any given snapshot of my life.

Note: This summary is current for October 2020 and I’m at liberty to change my mind about this topic at my sole discretion and without explanation. If some jerk-off tries to refer back to this post years down the road, make sure you also point to this paragraph while calling them a dishonest dipshit.

In a Nutshell: Fuck Tradition!

I really don’t like tradition.

Tradition is often defined as, “a long-established custom or belief that has been passed on from one generation to another.”

But what tradition in practice really means is, “We’ve always done things this way, so why do things differently?”

Relying on tradition to solve life’s problems and codify one’s beliefs means abandoning the possibility of creative thought. It means relying on the default choice to make decisions, rather than trying to improve upon the world we inherited from past generations, and solve problems more effectively.

Why use AES when we already have a perfectly serviceable block cipher–DES–to build our software atop? Nevermind the tiny security margin! My parents used DES in their software and their parents used Vigenere ciphers. So you see, we’ve already compromised on a modern solution. Pushing for AES is just leftist extremism and postmodernism.

What appeals for tradition sound like to cryptography nerds.

The cult of tradition is also the cornerstone of fascism, and extolled by right-wing hate groups like the “Proud Boys“.

Love for tradition is what makes a lot of very religious people vulnerable to the Siren song of right-wing extremism (which includes, but is not limited to, fascism).

Tradition is toxic, and the only way we can make it non-toxic is to severely reduce the dose we all intake.

Let me be clear: It’s fine to have traditions. Humans are habitual creatures, and at their core, traditions are just habits and ideas you inherited.

Soatok heart sticker

A lot of your traditions are probably even fun and wholesome! And I applaud you for practicing them if it makes you happy.

The problem comes from people who rely on tradition to inform their political beliefs. They base their decisions on adhering to the mistakes of the past instead of learning from history.

“I’m not homophobic, I just believe in the traditional definition of marriage,” says the person whose knowledge of the history of marriage is extremely limited by a recency bias, right before they vote to deprive gay people of the same civil rights they enjoy.

If you’re relying on tradition because a newer, better idea hasn’t come along yet, that’s also fine. Provided, of course, you’re open to new ideas and actively exploring your curiosity.

Systems and Models

There are two incompatible mental models for how society should be organized: Flat and hierarchical.

A flat structure is typically more aligned with politically far-left ideals. Even if they’re not outright in favor of egalitarianism, they’d prefer equal opportunity and for justice to be blind to things like color and sex.

A hierarchical structure is typically more aligned with politically conservative ideals. “There’s always a bigger fish.”

This incompatibility in the core worldview of liberal-leaning and conservative-leaning people shines through in most of the points they argue about.

And if you pause for a moment and reflect on this, it’s abundantly clear why the left and the right never seem to agree on anything. To a liberal, social and economic inequality is a problem to be solved. To a conservative, this is the way things should be.

“CLOSED. WONTFIX. Works as intended.”

Here’s the rub: In any particular area, some of us will score higher on an arbitrary metric than others.

I might be better at writing robust and reliable PHP code than you, but you’re almost certainly far better than me at anything musical in nature. Odds are, neither of us can hold a candle to Michael Phelps in a swimming competition.

This isn’t a bug, this is a feature.

Diversity and specialization are one of humanity’s superpowers.

However, depending on how you’re collecting your data, this also naturally leads to the creation of hierarchies in our society. It doesn’t matter what you’re measuring, the hierarchical structure usually emerges. To wit:

This phenomenon is a deception from bad data modelling and poor systemic thinking.

Ask yourself this: Does scoring higher on some arbitrary metric make you a superior person to anyone else?

When you look in a vacuum, hierarchies seem natural. When you look at the whole system with lots of independent measurements, we tend to average out to mediocrity.

And when you consider the reason that conservatives love hierarchies is that the measurements that the powerful have agreed are important are also the same ones that puts them and people like them on the top of the pyramid, it’s difficult to justify the hierarchical worldview.

If you ignore all other factors–ceteris paribus–and only look at this single variable, me and people that look and talk like me are superior to everyone else. There has to be an alpha, so it naturally falls upon us to lead society and benefit from our leadership.

The essence of hierarchical worldviews

The other reason conservatives love hierarchies is because they’re reinforced by tradition.

But just as driving a lifted pick-up truck won’t make your dick bigger, being wealthy and powerful doesn’t make you more enlightened or better at critical thinking.

Mass Manipulation

A lot of political disagreements result from propaganda, rather than the actual state of affairs.

For example, let’s look at the conflict about women’s right to abort a pregnancy. This is a contentious issue (and the primary motivation for the Republican Party’s court-stuffing initiatives), but here’s the truth of it:

Regardless of what you believe on this issue, we actually want the same thing. We want there to be no abortions. How we plan to achieve this outcome is what differs.

The conservatives believe in making abortions illegal (for reasons that vary from person to person and aren’t exclusively religious).

The liberals believe in preventing pregnancies from happening in the first place, but also keeping the procedures legal and readily available for medical emergencies that threaten the life of the mother.

Some people love to twist these positions around and give each camp cute names that serve their political purposes, but that’s the core position of each side.

Being pro-choice doesn’t mean you want there to be more abortions.

There are many pro-choice women that would personally never elect to have one unless their life was in immediate peril, and would find the experience psychologically traumatizing.

Abortions suck. Criminalizing them just makes them suck worse, and puts more women’s lives in danger.

If we could prevent unplanned pregnancies from happening in the first place–without attempting to suppress healthy human sexuality–we could get the number of abortions to near-zero. With better investment in the sciences and especially medical research, there may even be hope to one day reach the goal.

But if you pay attention to the discourse on this topic, this nuance is papered over. Conservatives call liberals godless baby-killers. Liberals call conservatives women-hating puritans.

Nobody wins.

There are, of course, some people whose involvement in the political discourse is to maximize cruelty. A good example of this is the Republicans who pass legislation forcing women to listen to their fetus’s heartbeat before aborting it. There’s no medical reason for such a requirement. It only exists to increase the psychological trauma the woman experiences; to punish them for being forced to choose. These ghouls aren’t what I’m talking about above. Fortunately, sociopaths are somewhat rare compared to the rest of the population.

Against Tired Narratives

Everyone is the protagonist in their own story. And while society’s problems are far more complicated than “good vs. evil”, you hear the same tired narratives echoing from all directions all the time.

Is an economic hierarchy nigh-inevitable under systems which have trade and commerce (as opposed to central planning)? As far as I know, yes! After all, there aren’t enough factors that lead to wealth to yield a flat structure.

Does that mean we shouldn’t strive to shrink the distance between the top of the hierarchy and the bottom? No, and fuck every tradition that insists otherwise.

Do not let other people’s narratives dictate what you think and feel. Especially mine!

The best cure for propaganda is also a remedy for tradition: Questioning things.

Ask yourself “Why?” until you get a satisfactory answer. Employ the Socratic method. If you like ancient beliefs so much, take a page from Lao Tzu.

Question your own beliefs before you question others’.

The people in power do not want a nation of critical thinkers that will question their bullshit.

Where Does All This Have Anything to Do With Furries?

The furry fandom–which you can think of as the largely queer sector of geek culture–has a problem with negative peace. I am not the first to make this observation.

Furries are, like most people, susceptible to the seduction of nostalgia.

Many of our friends yearn for the days before the fandom “became political” (whenever that was), before “cancel culture” took over.

Never mind the fact that everyone who has been cancelled was doing something heinous:

People who decry cancel culture are advocating for negative peace.

Negative peace is toxic, because it reinforces the status quo (which was largely engineered by bigots that died a long time ago) and ignores the reality of the human experience.

One of the consequences of diversity is that social friction is inevitable. This almost always leads to some form of conflict. Conflict can be healthy.

Valuing your escapism over the safety and well-being of the rest of your community is the epitome of being self-centered. (Need I remind everyone that narcissism is a personality disorder?)

If you want things to “go back” to the days “before cancel culture”, the only way we’re going to get there is if you help us take out the trash today.

Stop living in the past.

We can achieve so much more if we focus on the present and strive towards a brighter future.

A Brighter Tomorrow

I’m not going to pretend that voting blue will solve all the world’s ills. Setting aside how fucked up the DNC is, a lot of democrats are too conservative to ever let real change happen. (They’re also allergic to strategy and fetishize “bipartisanship” when their opponents are only interested in domination and power at all costs.)

However, the other major political party in the United States is so much worse on all fronts that we’re pretty much forced to vote for harm reduction instead of supporting the leadership that we really want.

I don’t expect anyone to change how they vote because of the words I wrote here today, and that’s not my goal.

Real change often happens between elections. Gay marriage was the result of thousands of activists, not the generosity of our sitting President at the time.

Deplatform all of the bigots. Make them feel unwelcome in our spaces.

Make them choose: You can either be a member of our community, or a hateful piece of shit, but not both.

Aside: Anyone who finds themselves dealing with right-wing, Trump-supporting bigots–whether or not they’re also furries–should check out this series on the alt-right playbook before engaging with them at all.

At the same time, keep the opportunity for restorative justice in mind: People who want to get away from hate need an exit strategy.

If you’re racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, or otherwise prejudiced against people who aren’t hurting anyone, you don’t deserve the warmth and positivity of the furry fandom.

This means risking being accused of being part of “cancel culture”, but fuck it. I sleep better knowing my friends don’t secretly pray for me to stop being me, and who I am is a very gay furry.

What are your priorities?

By Soatok

Security engineer with a fursona. Ask me about dholes or Diffie-Hellman!

2 replies on “Politics? In My Fandom?”

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