What I learned from lurking the Furry Raiders chat – guest post by Aristide
by Patch O'Furr
What I learned from lurking the Furry Raiders chat
Hi, I’m Aristide, and I’m a narc. For the past several months, I’ve had a sockpuppet account in the Furry Raiders Telegram, Skype, and Discord groups and periodically leaked screenshots of them to @edgedestroys. I chose Edge in order to protect the credibility of my sockpuppet account, and because I work in a sensitive workplace and worry about being doxxed. Most speculation about the Raiders – that they’re Nazis, they’re Alt-Right, they’re losers – is generally correct. I want to provide a better picture of what we, as a community, are dealing with.
Same Losers, New Politics
The general population of the Raiders community is a combination of old-school 4Chan racists, conspiracy theorists, new wave white supremacists, and impressionable but misled minors. Racist memes from a long-forgotten era of /b/ populate the chat in equal measure to WorldNetDaily or YourNewsWire links. Several dozen in the chat subscribe to the Daily Stormer and similar neo-Nazi websites, while a refrain against “fake news” rings against any news source that is not part of the alt-right media ecosystem. Lost in this mix are impressionable minors, 13 to 17 year old kids that found their way to the Raiders one way or another. Some of them joined because they hated SJWs – (the GamerGate to Alt-Right pipeline is well documented) – others were actively recruited by Foxler, Kody, and other de-facto leaders in the Raiders.
It comes standard with far-right communities to use fear and in-group pressure to ‘encourage’ their members to stay, instilling a “you’re with us or you’re with them” mindset. Members who left spoke of being blacklisted from their friends that remained in and around the Raiders, others that tried to leave were warned they’d never be re-accepted. These behaviors have transcended three organizers of the Raiders – Foxler, Kody, and Dionysius – and have been adopted by the group at large. Their virtually non-existent moderation has allowed for organized harassment, most notably and consistently against Deo, as well as unfiltered discussions about whether or not the Holocaust is historical fact.
Employing childish rationalizations to protect their egos is common too – any point that goes against the Raiders’ mantra gets branded as leftist fake news, or SJW rabble, preventing any kind of critical self-reflection of individual or group behaviors. This extended to projecting about recent mass-shootings and other tragedies in the United States – two prominent white supremacist Raiders hoped that the Sutherland Springs shooter was a leftist or a Bernie Bro, with no legitimate evidence, solely to justify their biases. This is a variation of the Backfire Effect, where ingrained biases force an individual to irrationally justify their beliefs. This is an example of small-minded thinking the Raiders possess and employ to maintain ideological homogeny.
It’s not about Free Speech
Re-litigating arguments over free speech won’t work on these people. It does not matter that the government isn’t involved, or that private organizations have the right to restrict some forms or speech. The new far-right, in Europe, North America, and elsewhere, seek nothing short of dominion – they seek to legitimize their cause, which they cast as oppression and the defense of whites, as a vehicle of domination over identity and ideology. They seek a community where slurs are used freely, where callousness and animosity are driving vehicles of discourse, where unsourced wingnut conspiracy theories lay equal to well-gathered evidence. It is a prominent example of anti-intellectual populism concentrated in a fringe, and spearheaded by childish brats who can’t fathom the concept of self-reflection. These are not people with respectable ideas. They deserve to be marginalized and silenced to the greatest reasonable extent.
There exists genuine fear of fully grown adults that are willing to commit their minds to this toxic thinking. Organized attacks against Califur, and the demise of Rocky Mountain Fur Con under well-deserved criticism, are examples of what arises when we fail to organize against the worst parts of our community. We cannot wait for their violent fantasies to reach a boiling point – we’ve seen Charlottesville and Portland – action after harm cannot be the norm. Neither can we ignore the children at risk from these communities: protecting them from sexual exploitation and far-right radicalization is an objective moral duty.
Within our community, we should be approaching these people with genuine concern over their propensity for violence, whether at conventions, meetups, or otherwise. Given the meteoric rise of public shootings in the United States, regardless if you believe it to be a firearms issue or a mental health issue, this must be addressed seriously. Healthy, well-adjusted adults do not behave like this. There is no negotiating with groups like these.
Lord of the Flies
After a few weeks of lurking, I noticed that some of the Raiders that would filter in and out were young teens, welcomed with open arms to a “real, accepting furry community” that did not persecute them like “Twitter SJWs” would. This became a genuine trend after more time passed; there was a disproportionate number of minors in this chat than in a general cross-section of other furry populations. While pornographic and other adult content was banned from these chats, mixing young teens with people like Dionysius, who once said that child pornography “[is] just 1s and 0s on a hard drive”, is cause for concern. Those sexual norms were common in the Raider’s chat – it can be said that the production or possession of child pornography was not seen as a moral crime there, and many would have it legalized if given the chance. Some Raiders did voice incredibly violent opposition to the concept of pedophiles, most of it originating over the folk conception of pedophiles violently raping children, whereas ‘boy love’ (read: molestation and less-violent coercion) was not seen as explicitly pedophilic.
Through individual chats, it became clear that many Raiders condoned or endorsed the idea of ‘boy/girl love’ to varying degrees. Through initial discussions with individual Raiders, these revelations also branched out beyond the Raiders chat to individuals wholly unaffiliated with them who discussed the same explicit material. I will not be releasing details of who was involved in these discussions, nor to what extent these discussions crossed moral or criminal bounds. I have provided evidence of what may or may not be criminal activity to appropriate authorities, and disclosing any evidence implicitly or explicitly may negatively impact an investigation that arises from said evidence. If you or someone you know is aware of any illegal activity, related to the Raiders or otherwise, you can provide the FBI with an anonymous tip.
Underage recruiting by Furry Raiders. Newest member on their Facebook is an apparent middle schooler added by Foxler. pic.twitter.com/o5X7p1knPm— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) November 20, 2017
Thank you to watchers inside Furry Raiders. When Foxler targets underage kids, watchers are tipping parents and it works. 1 less today and members list closed. But they can't avoid it until they stop recruiting. And they have to go to Russian artists now. https://t.co/GANSltkJzc pic.twitter.com/MAGGQn8gHb— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) November 20, 2017
Our next steps
Blocklists and blacklists are not enough. The furry intelligentsia of Twitter and elsewhere neither deserve nor are beholden to continually push back on the misaligned in our community. More must be done from higher stakeholders that have the ability and prerogative to act to make our community better, while acting within the bounds of the law. We cannot expect to continually uproot, expose, and chase out individual members while the malignant ideology remains to infect and spread anew – change must come from the top. It must be unequivocal.
FurAffinity’s September 4th Terms of Service update is a model to follow. Explicitly banning the glorification of hate groups and banning individuals from engaging in malicious speech stems the ability for Alt-Right and Raider-like groups from self-representation and recruitment (in addition to getting rid of Nazi and white nationalist garbage no self-respecting person wants to see.) Put your fears of historical representation aside – the FurAffinity TOS specifically says ‘promote hate groups and their ideologies’, so historical context can be preserved for appropriate use. Other websites ought to follow this same model and enforce it strictly – ‘content intended solely to disrupt the community’ would aptly describe the Raiders, who exist almost exclusively among themselves to troll mainstream furry for their own entertainment.
Conventions ought to follow the same model, as well as strictly vetting who is able to volunteer and work for cons. DenFur’s staffing policy is a step forward in ensuring that staff are able to help any attendee without fear of biased case management. A more aggressive approach is needed to prevent Raiders and other convention-liabilities from attending if they are likely to cause trouble – public accommodation laws are strict on protected classes, but being a racist nor being a jerk isn’t a protected class. I am not a lawyer, and nothing I say constitutes legal advice in any state, but I would strongly encourage conventions to adopt strong and clear language that bars individuals from attending if they have a history of preaching or advocating for hateful and violent acts.
It is unlikely that we will ever be fully able to rid ourselves of these unwanted individuals from our community. Private telegram chats and discord channels will always exist in the dark, as they should. Marginalizing these groups to the greatest extent under the law should be our goal, so that their art is rarely seen, their voices rarely heard, their ideas rarely considered. We cannot resort to brutish solutions that undermine our own credibility, or worse, our own moral character. There will never be a definitive solution to online hate in our community, but we can minimize their influence to the best of our abilities. There is no greater moral imperative than to safeguard freedoms to live, and freedoms from hate.
UPDATE from the first pictured commenter. Sirop posted a followup thread about leaving the Furry Raiders: “I’d like to use my previous experiences to help people… My chance to help make the furry community better, one way or another.”
Check the Altfurry and Furry Raiders tags below for much more on this topic.
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