Mask/hood bans: Haters love this excuse for war on fun and freedom.
by Patch O'Furr
RANT! Sometimes, you don’t know how good it is to have tolerance, until you see it taken away from others.
In Vermont, fursuiters were mingling with crowds at a Mardi Gras celebration. They were high-fiving people and making them feel like they were in magical unicorn-land, like fursuiters do. Then a town official with a Sequoia up his butt decided that fun should be illegal. Or they weren’t paying the Smile Tax. Or whatever.
Vermont town selectively bans fursuiters: Prejudice complaint and update.
Here’s what happened since: The sad fursuiters patiently worked with the town, trying to jump through their hoops to get permits. The town officials stroked their Hitler mustaches, and came up with this scheisse:
- Permit cost: 12 suiters – $540
- Suiters must submit to a Federal and State back ground check.
- The performance areas begin 6 feet off the centerline of the Marketplace and end at the canopy line Entertainers MAY NOT perform within the nine-foot pedestrian right-of way (the area that extends 9 feet from Marketplace building fronts) and MAY NOT perform in the center of the street (six feet on either side of the center line, a.k.a 12 foot zone in the center of the street) There can be no more than eight (8) street entertainment acts on the Marketplace at any time There may be only two street entertainment acts per block Entertainers must locate at least 150 feet from each other and more than 15 feet from a building façade, vendor cart or sidewalk café Maximum performance time per block per day is two (2) hours The entertainer may perform only for one (1) hour segments including breaks before moving to a different block At least one (1) hour shall elapse before entertainer may return to a block The performer must locate at least five (5) storefronts or 150 feet (whichever is farther) from previous location BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH.
What control freaks! That’s a fuck-off list of conditions from those Beigists.
1. A dull, dogmatic, unoriginal person who uses stale language, and disregards the eccentric, daring, decadent, or unusual; a humorless bourgeois.
2. One who lacks charm, joie de vivre, blitheness, or self-expression. A bland, banal person.
The excuse was a town ordinance. It’s part of a trend for local areas and some states to ban masks and hoods to prevent “crime”.
What crime? The laws aren’t written with furries in mind. But furries also don’t pose any risk any more than any member of the public. I challenge anyone to show a statistic that they do. (Actually, furry hugs cure cancer.) There’s just fear. Furries can be too fabulous, or remind you of weird internet shit, so they get lumped in as targets for over-judging jerks. This cold, unfriendly, anti-social misuse of a law is why we should tell the law to shove it.
Can someone explain:
If I dress up in an outrageous furry costume and do crimes like making people smile, how am I supposed to get away without being noticed?
When I’m baking inside a giant rug, with tunnel-vision and serious danger of dehydration, I need a handler to look out for my welfare. How am I supposed to ruin yours?
But anyone could be inside that suit! It might even be that horrible guy who does all those racist Youtube comments! Won’t someone think of the children!
I only know dog math, but statistics say “stranger danger” is the rarest. Bad Stuff is most likely to happen in the home and from people you know and trust. Spreading overblown fear makes things worse by keeping people isolated.
How We Were Fooled Into Thinking That Sexual Predators Lurk Everywhere: Creating a moral panic didn’t protect teens—it left them vulnerable.
Let’s acknowledge that incidents we CAN name are tragic, but rare. They’re caused by criminals on their own behalf, not <insert innocent group.> Let’s also protest big reaches to invent slippery-slope scenarios. That’s what happened in Vermont. The town could only justify being jerks with a trashy headline about a costumed panhandling offense, from hundreds of miles away.
It’s shit like this… Hysteria about stranger-danger is for mental midgets.
Moving on to the disguise issue. I get it: “The KKK” and “Anarchists” and “Thugs” like wearing hoods and masks for bad reasons. You know… those groups that are scary and powerful enough to legislate against… but you also can’t point out how they exist in daily life, unless they announce themselves. They could be anyone, anywhere. Like terrorists, hipsters, and silent farters.
When fursuiters appear, they aren’t holding KKK rallies or burning down your neighborhood. They’re not stealthy about clomping around and hugging things. Let’s extend benefit of the doubt to all such positive, creative activities and oppose these laws. What if cops can’t catch a masked criminal after they do something for real? Well, don’t punish the public for being bad at your job! Give people a break… how about a little Freedom of Expression? (That includes “free hugs” signs, squeakers, and consenting butt sniffs. These are treasured cultural traditions!)
The Vermont Furries were considering a legal challenge against their local anti-mask law. I would dearly love to see a court filing from Fluffy PartyPup.
More about mask/hood bans:
- Anti-mask laws on Wikipedia
- State Codes Related To Wearing Masks – a partial list.
- New Bill Would Make Wearing Hoodies A Crime – An Oklahoma story covers reasons for controversy. They’ll use it as an excuse to escort black people out of malls. It’s just that arbitrary… an excuse to act like really nasty mall cops everywhere.
- Precrime – “A term coined by science fiction author Philip K. Dick. It is increasingly used in academic literature to describe and criticise the tendency in criminal justice systems to focus on crimes not yet committed.”
Wearing masks in public is illegal in Italy too. Fursuiters never had problems so far since furmeets have been small and mostly in the context of comic fairs where cosplayers are allowed (and also because enforcing of this law isn’t too strict, just like many other laws in Italy). But since the number of suiters has been increasing steadily, the organizers of the main Italian furry convention are already negotiating with the city officials to get a regular permission just in case.
As bad as this kind of thing sounds I wouldn’t get too much upset though… these kind of things happen to all communities when they come in contact with hard reality, regulations and such. It’s a sign that the community is getting visible enough and its members are committed and willing to take bureaucracy and social obligations seriously. Well, that’s the way I see it at least. There may be cultural gap at work since in my country we are used to see government and law enforcement meddle with pretty much nything. 🙂 I have stumbled upon weird obligations too, for example I have to get an export authorization every time I ship a painting to a country outside the EU.
But we as a community are stronger than paperwork… we’ll keep finding ways to do our thing, even at the price of money and annoyances.
That’s a very interesting perspective from outside of north american furries. I have a feeling, considering the article coming up about your mature art getting display in regular art shows, that there may be more liberated tolerance to some things in Europe… aren’t nude beaches no big deal? Glad to hear they aren’t harsh about it and are working on permits! Send me news if you get any. I actually didn’t even know there was an Italian con! 🙂
I think on average there is a more liberal attitude towards sexuality in Europe, although it’s always a grey area and there are many difference between individual countries.
Italy is an odd case: we have the strongest Catholic tradition and influence in the world which fosters prudery and intolerance towards any open display or discussion of sexuality (and especially non-standard sexuality), but at the same time there is a strong cult of masculinity and a long tradition of bawdyness and eroticism at all cultural levels. So Italians are often prude when it comes to RL behavior and direct involvement but at the same time we are quite tolerant towards nudity and sexual themes in the media. It’s not uncommon to see religious magazines and porn magazines sold almost side to side in Italian newsstands, and Italian comedy movies of the 70s and early 80s would often feature a scene or two with full female nudity. Male nudity is a subject that rarely comes up in mainstream discussion, and I think it’s never been shown in a mainstream Italian movie, but it’s accepted as an ordinary thing in art. Gay/queer people often face intolerance from their family and neighborhood but I think most people would say they are neutral about alternative sexuality when discussing in the abstract. The legal status of nude beaches in Italy is blurry but there are several well known ones.
The Italian con is named “Zampacon” (translated to “Pawcon”) and will have its 4th edition in September this year, I’m working right now on putting together an official website for it. It has been organized only through social networks and a private forum so far and that’s why it’s not very visible yet, but it’s growing and there will be more advertising for future editions. 🙂
I wonder how they’d react to a protest, if a bunch of suitors all over the great states marched on Burlington in full costume.
Again, get rid of the negative reputation, and The Police will stop targeting fursuiters selectively. It is amazing what a tiny drop of Positive Reputation will do with how other people treat you.
Any suggestion for how? Who is going to police reputations? Nobody’s managing memberships to this little niche community, so people make it what they want it to be. I think that’s one of the reasons it’s thriving and growing like it is.
Doesn’t prejudice make it kind of futile? Some people already have their minds made up and are simply on power trips, and can’t be satisfied in any way. Benevolent stuff like charity checks from cons don’t please them, they crave power to condemn other people.
Another approach is to ignore them, push the limits, and show them as arbitrary, unfair, unreasonable, antiquated judgements that most people don’t agree with. With more social liberty, people who are hurting nobody don’t cause a descent into anarchy. It’s happening across the country with gay marriage and weed and so forth and society hasn’t burst into flames.
I like that these ones in Vermont want to challenge the laws. I think a lot of them arose in response to the KKK. If that’s not an antiquated reason, I think their experience makes a fine example anyways, and I really hope they succeed.