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Do furries deserve conventions? Fandom assemblies in danger from foul behaviors

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A letter coming out of Motor City Fur Con highlights a situation that furry conventions may need to be made aware of, and to take actions protecting against. This opinion piece will go over this situation, and why it's important that our community address this situation, and against possible weaponization of it.

Primarily, conventions are a big deal in the furry world. These organized efforts of staff and volunteers are an excellent opportunity for friends from great distances to come together and meet one another. Something that can seem quite simple on the surface creates great stress to those at the helm. Earlier this year we found a small group of furs overburdened and liquidating a company when they took on too much workload. The tragedy being there was probably no ill intention, but their small group taking on too much created vulnerability and eventually it all came tumbling down.

Leaders of conventions, and those that volunteer, sacrifice a lot in order to keep these essential functions for our fandom running. This sacrifice was emphasized through recent news out of Detroit’s Motor City Fur Con when the convention chair of FurSquared announced that in order to attend Motor City Fur Con, he lost his job. Now Alkali, a convention chair who has done an untold amount of hours for charity work and running panels at other various conventions, looks for subscription support in order to focus on creating content for the fandom he loves with his spouse Xanni. And in spite of this rock to his world, he is still running FurSquared this very weekend.

While Flayrah has been critical of leadership of conventions in the past, today the focus goes in the other direction, toward the attendees. Because the loss of employment of one of the volunteers of Motor City Fur Con was followed up by another troubling letter from the same convention about how other attendees chose to spend their time.

A respectful letter in the face of grave disrespect

Soon after the tragic news about Alkali’s job, another message from the same convention had been released a few days later concerning attendee behavior at the event. In this letter it noted that there were reports in the hotel of actions reminiscent of what had plagued RainFurrest before they were ousted from Washington state: vandalism and unsanitary conditions dealing with fecal matter. Rainfurrest to this day is a name ingrained with infamy that still echoes in fandom circles.

The letter Motor City released was well constructed. It addressed the issue without condescension. It took into consideration that accidents happen and encouraged people to find the courage to address those with the hotel directly instead of leaving an unpleasant surprise during regular cleaning rounds.

We received reports of multiple occurrences of feces on public restroom walls and private room bathrooms in a manner that is inconsistent with illness or accidents. Some guest rooms had feces left on beds or in sheets. This behavior is unacceptable and we have encouraged the hotel to assess fees and keep track of what rooms may have been left in this condition. Accidents can happen, but please clean up after yourself, ESPECIALLY in your own room, and notify the hotel about the situation if needed. If they need to take care of that sort of issue, sooner is better than later.

The fact that the letter maintained a professional demeanor, despite what the staff had to endure this year, is quite frankly a testament to the strong leadership they have. It was the right thing to publish it, as embarrassing as the content was to themselves and the fandom at large. My hope is that if those causing these issues read this, they will remember what was sacrificed for them and that they shall clean up their act not just for their sake, but for that of their fellow fans.

But unfortunately even if furries do behave better, this situation has highlighted another problem that could be soon coming our way. And that is if outside provocateuses take advantage of these continuing sore spots.

A vulnerability to our fandom’s gatherings

The staff of our furry conventions are clearly going to have to start taking preventative measures to deter such behaviors of attendees, and to have plans to deal with these continuing situations preemptively even outside of the Motor City.

I am not a person who will present the No True Scotsman fallacy here, it’s more likely than not the responsible parties are those who identify as furries and are part of our fandom. However, what is becoming increasingly clear to see is that this disturbing behavior could be an avenue of attack for people who dislike the fandom and those within it. No need to call up a hotel and threaten them with violence and risk jail time if caught. Instead you can just smear crap on the walls during the event in attempts to create the next Rainfurrest.

Given that we have seen political actors begin to propagate rumors about young folks ‘identifying as furries’ releasing their bowels on the floor of American schools, it’s an opportunity for sycophants of these political organizations, or other individuals who seek vengeance towards furry fans, to enforce these stereotypes by infiltrating our gatherings before defecating and smearing our good name using their own digestive byproducts. If I can think of that angle of attack against the furs, so can they. So we need to start preparing defenses against such vulnerability from both insiders and outsiders.

This means preemptive communication will most likely be necessary by convention leaders, new and old, to their hotels. Let them know that the fandom does have its fair share of trolls and folks looking to muckrake, in both the old-timey and modern sense of the term, in order to get our assemblies shut down. Conventions should work with the hotels to assure that as long as these situations are brought to attention that the furries will do what we can to make sure these troublesome guests are dealt with in our spaces.

Conventions should start to make clear to prospecting attendees that there will be communication between cooperating fandom organizations should names of these unhygienic fans (or interlopers) be given to them by the hotel, and that these issues will be handled firmly and discreetly in a more unified front on an inter-convention basis. We need to work together at this, for the stench from the fallout will surely make things harder for every gathering in the fandom should we not.

Our gatherings are more than just a time for fur fans to let their hair down and relax. There are content creators who work hard to create works of art and use this opportunity to start a business. There are eccentric folks, who despite keeping their nose to the grindstone, are still deemed as outcasts of society and use these events to just feel a bit more normal around other oddballs like themselves. This is what is on the line if we can’t take the steps necessary to address this situation.

Rest assured, there are people who want to see these spaces implode and all go the way of Rainfurrest. So let’s keep our shit together, and do what we can to flush this issue from our spaces for good.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Why are people so cruel to the places that actually mean something to folks?

Brandy J. Lewis
Science Fiction Studies, Comic Studies, and Fan Culture History

Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

Do people deserve goods or services?
It's a business transaction. They pay for them, thus expect them in return. They will continue to exist as long as there is demand.

There are no third-party journalists, writing tabloid headlines, involved in the exchange between a con attendee and a convention. Except when journalists self-insert themselves in the matter. Tabloid-style headlines achieve views and user engagement, negative engagement too, such as this comment. But they're totally unnecessary in a magazine -Flayrah- that makes no income from advertising or click-baity practices.

So right from the beginning of this conversation, my hesitations or doubts about moral character, are greatly placed on the author of the piece rather than the people being talked about in it. An unintended effect of the provocative writing style.

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You don't pay a hotel to leave feces in their beds. Most furries are aware of this. This is in response to an open letter from staff, and not based off of rumors or hearsay. There was no 'insertion' of anyone here, the letter is there for anyone to read. Yes this is a real thing, that real furry convention staff had to deal with. It's not rumor, gossip, nor tabloidal.

I've started to find putting reasonable statements in the article, with a "selatious click-bait" headline is a handy way to sift out folks who only read the headline and surface level items when they comment. I mean, the letter literally had to talk about finding feces in a bed, but it's the headline that's egregious here, surely.

I think your main issue is that good furries who keep clean and pay to enjoy conventions should not have to be punished. I would agree with this, which is why I felt compelled to write this so that people can look and mitigate any damage from these type of issues in the future, because even if furries themselves stop because they realize the damage it does to their fellow community members, it can also be done maliciously by outsiders if they see it gets furries stigmatized enough.

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No, my main issue is that I move my eyes away from articles as soon as I read headlines that look like they belong on a tabloid. There is no merit involved in having a furry convention. It is not a reward for worthy behavior. No 'deserving' involved.

Uncivil behavior hikes up the prices and complicates relations with the venue. But the service isn't being offered because it's particularly deserved. I'm not critizing the state of events. I'm critizing the writing of the headline. As it's an opinion piece you're entitled to do it in such a way. And as a reader I can argue that it is poor journalism, since you could instead inform of what's going on in a more matter-of-factly way.

By having a "selatious click-bait headline" you achieved the opposite with me as a reader. I have no problem reading feces were found on a bed, if that's what happened. But I stopped reading after the headline.

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The opening sentence in the above comment is false. You clearly did not move your eyes away from the article when you saw the headline, because you're engaging in the comment section.

I will also point out the the first sentence of your initial comment:

Do people deserve goods or services? It's a business transaction. They pay for them, thus expect them in return. They will continue to exist as long as there is demand.

Happens to be how I knew you didn't read the article because the way you interpreted the question was different than what the article was pointing at.

Your translation of the question was:

Should hotels allow furries to have even have conventions?

Where as my translation of the question, which can be seen because I highlight the volunteers and staff in the first paragraph before highlighting the issue attendees left them with is this:

Should furry convention staff continue to sacrifice themselves for their attendees given their behaviors?

So before you accuse another of value-less self insertion, you may want to reflect on the value of answering a selatious question without reading about why it was being asked to begin with. I've been doing this for a decade and I did have my own internal debate on whether the punctuated question was warranted or not before publication. Given it's trying to get furries to respect other furries, I deemed the pointed question was warranted.

So in a way, I would criticize the headline for its apparent ambiguity than its salaciousness.

The benefit of not being on staff myself is I don't have to be a PR focused toward the attendee behavior as MCFC was. And as I noted in the article, their ability to do so in the face of such disrespect makes them a very good team.

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For a moment I thought you were agreeing with me that the opening sentence "Do furries deserve conventions?" is a false construct. The question is a loaded question. It's a fallacy. "Have furries stopped beating their wives?" It's a non-sequitur.

By posing your question you imply merit is involved in the offering of conventions, when it isn't. You're willfully misunderstanding the very essence of how attendees obtain the services offered by a convention: through paying fees -often in large amounts, booking flights, preparing social events, carrying art... Spending time and spending money on a cause they deem valuable on their own accord. They're not in it to get a metaphorical medal of worth from convention staff or hotel staff or furry journalists.

The artistic liberty you took in posing that question in the headline wouldn't be alarming if you just did it once, but you take such liberties all, the, time, when you write. You make factually tendentious statements to allow for a more personal flair, against the actual truth of the matters. Just now as you answer to my comments, you reinterpreted my POV over and over, as I repeat myself. I am objecting to your fallacious headline as it is written, de facto, at the top of the page. Pure and simple. And I did in fact move my eyes away from the article as soon as I read the headline. The loaded language you used is not motivated by journalistic integrity. If you wish me to read your articles, you'll stop making tabloid headlines.

I see now the purpose of your loaded language was to make an appeal to the sense of community in the fandom. You could do just as well or much better if you resorted to a sense of community without tabloid-style practices. I do not appreciate it when people try to pull me into their causes through loaded language. You're achieving the opposite effect. I do not feel drawn to your cause, at all, with this writing style.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (4 votes)

Jesus fucking christ, if you want a different news style, go fucking pay for it. Stop bothering volunteers who aren't specially catering just to you and your prissy, tedious, false complaints

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Better yet go submit an article done the right way if you think you know so much better

"jOurNaLiSt iNteGriTy" is the magical unicorn of self-assigned arbiters who concern-troll on info resources that might in any way threaten their fragile bubbles with critical or dangerous information they prefer be ignored

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Hint: news doesn't exist to protect FaNdoM ImAgE, it is simply news. Otherwise every news story is "tabloid" if it upsets you like it should.

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The reason it should is if furries don't write it, then outsiders will, and do it in ways you want even less than this.

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I honestly would rather outsider know that we don't appreciate when some of us harm the establishments that welcome us with open arms, and we at least give 2 craps... *metaphorically*.

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The artistic liberty you took in posing that question in the headline wouldn't be alarming if you just did it once, but you take such liberties all, the, time, when you write.

Like, buddy, we've all noted Sonious does have a tendency to editorialize.

But maybe complaining about inserting opinion in the FUCKING OPINION PIECE was not a good choice of battlegrounds. You literally found the one article it was dumb to make this argument on. And, since you decided not to actually read the article, you, uh, attacked Sonious for having the opinion *checks notes* "maybe you shouldn't crap all over hotels". Like, amazing choices made here.

If you wish me to read your articles,

I'm not Sonious, but you might have, uh, "reinterpreted a POV" there.

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It's fine, I just have to give a synopsis of the article in the comments instead when they complain about an article they didn't read. It's easy enough.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (3 votes)

Or write accurately so you don't have to recontextualize the truth at every step

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What the hell does "recontextualizing" mean here? Everyone here's calling you out for taking issue with the subject of the article itself and you're still playing this game of hopscotch, personal insults against Sonious & goalpost-moving, like anyone's still fooled? Let's talk about integrity and honestly since you claim to care so much about those. Lol

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