Anniversary of the New Jersey FurBQ Hoax – this bullshit cost $185,000.
by Patch O'Furr
Update: read to bottom for new details of the $185,000 cost!
Remember this sad thing? On May 26, 2012, the final New Jersey FurBQ was held for nearly 200 attendees. It ended seven years of a party loved by a community of friends. But it didn’t just die – it was killed with controversy and nasty headlines. The truth was buried under biased and false reporting.
It’s a tale of intolerance and ridicule. Misinformation and dishonesty. Exploiting and scapegoating. Shaming and moralizing against “offenses” like having fun and serving alcohol to adults over 21. A fake sex scandal, that provoked our own anti-sex hysteria. Beneath it all, dirty town politics.
They said they had photos of two costumers doing “simulated” public sex. Everyone freaked out and pointed at each other – but it was a wild rumor. The accusations failed burden of proof. Accusers are responsible to give evidence, but they failed to produce photos or even names, when harm made it critical to be fair. I say if it happened, we’d at least know names. If you’re a furry, you know how rumors go. Sure, evidence could have been held for confidentiality – but there’s no credibility for that. Photos didn’t just fail to exist – there were extra allegations of lying, a money incentive, and an unreasonable rush to judgement that was too perfectly provoked. It’s way past time to call it a HOAX. This may be the first headline to do it. (I found support from this DJ who was there.)
Bullshit that needs correction.
Flayrah has the best sources for the story, collecting many useful links. Start there if you aren’t familiar with it.
Here’s how the facts get distorted. Buzzfeed spreads a lie: “In 2012, two furries were arrested at a barbecue for engaging in “inappropriate behavior” in a public park in broad daylight.” Nobody was arrested. Shame on Buzzfeed for not correcting the lie – and spreading it: “Police Shut Down Furry BBQ Due To Yiffing.”
When biased reporting gets repeated and embellished, the FurBQ Hoax shambles forth like a zombie. There’s no life inside it – there’s only instinct to attack.
Public discussion says this is the true story:
- A town council member attacked the event with a claim of incriminating photos that he refused to show.
- Attendees say he lied about being there.
- They say he invented an excuse to divert funding for emergency service at the community center hosting the party, and replace it with a full-time paid unit.
- The town already had volunteer emergency services, who weren’t getting enough calls to expand them.
- Their safety record was excellent. Complaints about furry misbehavior to justify closure had nothing to do with the services.
- The claimed proof of misbehavior never existed.
Blaming furries for being weird perfectly exploited them. It even fooled them to attack each other to meet outsider expectations. The story wrote itself through rumor spreading. The fallout harmed helpers, stopped charity, and shut down a seven-year event loved by hundreds. The town council got what it wanted.
This is what happens when haters hate on your hobby. Yeah, I know people laugh about trivial complaints of “fursecution”. Losing a party isn’t the biggest deal in the world. The community center might not have been the best place for a large crowd. Go somewhere else.
But that won’t fix what they did, and why it sucks. Here’s my take on it:
This whittles away the best thing Furry subculture has – an open and accepting community – at the whim of nasty outsiders. It cuts off tolerance and closes minds. It stinks up the place with groupthink and appeasing. Everyone who got upset was used like a tool. It gives power to panic-mongers, shamers, censors, and their faithfully prejudiced servants. It lets control-freaks, puritans, and the perpetually offended dictate how you can express yourself. It spreads the culture of contempt.
Even silly people deserve better. Fun is serious business because it has to do with liberties.
Don’t get fooled again.
There’s been lots of change since cheap thrill stories from Vanity Fair, MTV Sex2K, and CSI mistreated furries this way. That stuff is ancient history by media standards. It’s still the main reference for haters, and it’s only getting more stale.
Furry fans have gotten way more accepting for adult interests, and made it futile to police each other’s expression. People into geeky subculture are way less judging. So the biggest disappointment is how the FurBQ Hoax baited fans to attack and marginalize each other. Stop that, and the rest is easier to ignore.
Keep being yourselves – you’re fine the way you are. Keep an open mind, but not so open anything can crawl in. Question authority, don’t give in to haters, ignore puritans, and be skeptical of people claiming to speak for you. Value a thriving subculture, and accept the fringe. Stay weird.
Update: more about the political motives.
“West Windsor shuts down Twin ‘W’ Rescue Squad after agreement goes unsigned.” – The article mentions the FurBQ as a factor for an ongoing dispute. It continues to report the hoax as if it was real. A smart commenter isn’t fooled:
It’s REALLY starting to sound like politics in that area are totally messed up, and furries provided the perfect scapegoat for an organization in chaos.
The dispute is more complicated than bad behavior. That’s why it was easy to brew up a distraction. (Look over there… weird sex!)
Many New Jersey towns have relied on volunteer emergency services to save taxpayer money. But across the region, they are increasingly replacing them with paid services at taxpayer expense. When they switch to paid service, they bill insurance companies for it. So the towns might not raise taxes (although I’ve seen unclear complaints of “double billing”). It makes insurance costs go up for everybody instead, with new careerist motives to control funding. Winners: beaurocrats, and their friends who run insurance companies.
$185,000 pay day
From the Twin ‘W’ Rescue Squad’s facebook page (emphasis added:)
“The Township Council decided on March 23 to stop utilizing the all-volunteer squad. In its stead, the township will hire three full-time emergency medical services employees. Township officials have estimated the costs of the new emergency services at $180,000 plus $5,000 for uniforms.”
It seems fairly clear that the township was determined to shut down the squad, regardless of whether Twin W was willing to sign the memo. Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh claims that the closure was motivated by the inappropriate use of the squad’s property by an outside organization for an event in 2012 (involving only one former member of the squad and in which none of its current members participated).
The mayor explained that the necessity for a memo of understanding between Twin W and the township stemmed from a picnic held in 2012.
“The volunteers came in with furry suits and there was some negative publicity in all local newspapers then,” he said. “We were under public pressure to take some responsibility for the Twin W to have no negative publicity because it still carries the name of West Windsor … and the township does provide them with funding and most of their equipment for operations.”
The mayor said he is sorry to see that “we’ve come to this point” but that “there was a deadline for Twin W to sign the (memo of understanding).”
Deputy Chief Solomon alleges that it will cost the township almost $200,000 to staff the hours Twin W staffed for free and that insurance would only reimburse about $150,000 of the transport costs.
“If the insurance company pays all of it — the $150,000 — they’re still already in the hole $50,000,” he said. “We just don’t get enough calls for them to do it paid. At best, they’ll break even. At worst, the taxpayers are going to get socked.”
Our small experience raises the big picture of privatization. If costs are raised for profit, that’s shameful when many Americans can’t afford services. If moralistic attacks take away liberty, it lets only rich people with big houses have private parties.
There’s a bullshit culture war making a circus-like distraction from bigger things. The powers-that-be want people to argue about sex or political catfights, instead of bank and corporate behavior. Meanwhile the government gives them services that used to be public, in a time of protracted economic struggle. Corporate conservatives do this. So do sour-faced authoritarian liberals, who enable hysterias and put their own petty power ahead of bigger issues.
In a way, this Furry story is part of everyone’s experience. Be yourselves and support freedom for all.
When they sell out emergency helpers… who wouldn’t they sell out?
Unfortunately, there is a storm brewing for any public fursuiting, possibly effecting the entire world. Local rules about “face-covering masks” have already popped-up in some cities and venues. Excuses from anti-terrorism, criminal activity or child endangerment have been used. Some attempts for fursuiting groups to follow the new rules have led to requests for purchasing of expensive public performance licenses and even requests for background checks for participants. In some cases groups are forced to “beg forgiveness rather then ask permission”, eventually told to stop showing up in a venue where it was perfectly OK before.
This is not the only problem restricting freedom of expression. Myself and others who use SLR cameras have been discriminated against at public venues on private property by security, and told that “professional photography” (meaning the kind of equipment we use) violated the privacy of other people and the owners “intellectual property” (architecture, decorative features, signage, product displays, etc.). When we point out that everyone with a phone can take photos now, we are usually told that is permitted, as they aren’t “professional pictures”. There exists a basic “photographer’s bill of rights” pamphlet, supplied by amateur photography clubs and camera manufacturers, but no one really pays attention to them.
In this paranoid world, fed by fear generated by politically motivated news sources and greedy property owners who want to maintain control over public spaces for profit, this sort of thing will get far worse. I’m really not sure what can be done.
Thanks Mark, glad you noticed the rant… yes I agree there is a storm, and a lot of it has to do with data and all of the dark side of social media taking over what used to be media managed by gatekeepers. (I guess it still is, but now they are a level below where they used to be, and you can’t put a name on them or talk to them.) Whether they are installing cameras or banning them it’s about controlling the information.
It’s sinister and scary. But, funny enough, I see positive subcultural trends subverting it. It’s often just fun but I think it can be countercultural in some ways. It’s awfully hard to go luddite but I can imagine waves of organized misinformation campaigns in protest.
Meanwhile there are some street level protests happening. I’m not sure protesting for access to silly social media accounts is a great use of time but it could be a small step for more in the future.
What’s really scary is how much information banks control. I like the idea of Bitcoin but haven’t really gotten into using it at all. In some sci fi future, America is like Cuba with two economies.
I don’t do conspiracies, but I have seen first hand how some of the worst people do abuse behind badges or licenses, and get applause for it.
The fact they did the press release of the accusations while Anthrocon 2012 was going on was a flag for me. That’s where I had first heard whispers of it, and found it odd that the incident allegedly had happened months prior. The release was probably timed like that purposefully as at that point anyone who had attended would have forgotten if things had happened or not, and most of those that WERE there would be at the opposite end of Pennsylvania.
I came to the idea that it was a false flag about a day after thinking it over and reading about it after I had gotten home from the convention:
(http://furrydrama-2.livejournal.com/292445.html?page=1#comments) Need an account to see it.
I basically said on June 20th 2012 that this was probably a false accusation. And that theory was replied with “That’s the most retarded theory ever” (A word which ironically is banned from that particular forum in its modern state)
I quite honestly wish it were one at times…