Recently, there has been a lot of misinformation and propaganda flying around the American news media about the furry fandom. Unfortunately, this seems to be increasing with time.
Consequently, there are a lot of blanket statements and hot takes floating around social media right now about whether or not furries should talk with journalists.
That is to say, a lot of people are screaming, “Don’t ever talk to the press!”
I thought I’d offer my perspective, seeing as I did talk to journalists during the whole Ridgeland library incident.
But to explain my nuanced position, I need to explain a bit of background.
Never Say Never
My blog talks a lot about cryptography. You don’t need to understand anything about cryptography to get the point I’m going to make today, however.
Most information security professionals have hammered into their own minds to “never roll your own crypto”.
Taken to the logical extreme, this kind of advice would prevent the development of cryptography and make everyone’s communications vulnerable. This is obviously a bad outcome.
So why do professionals keep saying it?
99.99% of the time, the rule applies. If you’re building a line-of-business CRUD app, you don’t need to invent a new block cipher. Even if your cipher turns out to be very good, by whatever coincidence, it’s better to leave that to the experts.
In the minority of cases where someone needs to break the rule, they must do so knowing that they’re violating a norm. And the impetus is on them to justify this breakage; lest they suffer the consequences.
Usually, in cryptography, this just means “you aren’t taken seriously,” which is a pretty bad outcome.
In other areas of life, breaking a norm can mean ostracization or legal peril.
Back to Furries and the Media
When I see furries screaming, “Don’t talk to the press!” I’m reminded of how “Don’t roll your own crypto!” is practiced by the cryptography community.
Most of the time, it’s obviously a bad idea for furries to talk to the press, for a few obvious reasons:
- Random furries probably have no special training for dealing with the media, which means they’re easy to manipulate into spreading a false narrative
- Public communication is a skill that most of us don’t practice
- If you suffer from any kind of anxiety, the previous two reasons are exacerbated
Even if you’re a popular streamer or content creator, the kinds of questions they ask and how they present your answers to their audience is a different class from your fans and friends.
But should the rule for furries and the media be, “Never?”
Uncle Kage from AnthroCon says yes (with some nuance, in so many drunken words):
Meanwhile, Xydexx says no (with some nuance):
How you answer this question broadly depends on how much you trust your community.
Do you assume malice or incompetence from fellow furries? “Don’t ever talk to the press” likely sounds like sage advice to you.
Conversely, if you hold your community members in higher esteem, you’re more likely to encourage some conversations with some media outlets.
Regardless, there is one rule that must never be broken, but recently was.
Furries Must Never Contribute to Right-Wing Extremist Media like FOX News
Don’t do this. FOX News isn’t actually news; they argue as much in court.
Furry Press Checklist
If you’re going to talk to the press, you need to (at bare minimum) know the following:
- Which outlet, and what is their reputation?
- Who within that outlet are you talking with?
- What are you talking about?
- What questions or concerns do they believe their viewers have?
The most egregious incidents can be prevented by asking the first question and researching the outlet.
You should also know who you’re talking to, and whether or not they try to appeal to violent right-wing terrorists.
Many local news stations are okay, but specific journalists aren’t trustworthy. That’s why question 2 matters.
Regardless of the yellowness of the journalism you’re exposing yourself and all of the furry fandom to, you need to have a clear understanding of what’s being asked of you before you agree to any interviews.
This is a lot of homework and responsibility. If you’re not willing to do it, then don’t talk to the media.
There are better ways to get your
thirty pieces of silver fifteen minutes of fame.
Of course, the person who went on FOX News is also a horrible person across every axis.
Not just this:
…but also this:
FOX News. Not even once.