Hate Addiction and What Furries Can Do About It – guest post by Tempo.
by Patch O'Furr
Tempo (Tempe O’Kun) is a furry author in North Dakota.
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If you support white supremacy…
If you play dress-up in the uniforms of genocide…
If you mock people who just want the same rights you enjoy…
…you don’t belong here. Not in my fandom. Not in my country. Not in my world. You cannot possibly play the victim enough for me to consider your murderous opinions valid. So cry all you want, but we’ll be here in the furry fandom having fun without you.
To the rest of you, to actual furries: this is our fandom, a place on the Internet that’s nobody’s but ours. We decide who gets to play here, and what the rules are. The offline world’s pretty messed up right now, but kicking the Nazis out of furry is a concrete, realistic, and powerful move toward justice.
I’M JUST HERE FOR THE TALKING ANIMALS
Let me tell you why to care.
I had one grandfather flee Germany before WWII and another fight his way in during it. Both were white, blue-eyed, straight Christians—yet they opposed Nazism in every form it took, because they believed every person had worth. They are dead and cannot tell you why Nazism isn’t safe to ignore. They are dead and I’d be a coward if I didn’t give you the lessons they paid for in blood spilled and horror witnessed. For them, I strive never to be a coward.
Until last year, I tried not to “bring politics” into furry. I consider the fandom a place for healthy escapism. But you can only afford to be “non-political” so long as the things you care about are safe. I’m making an exception because of these people we’ve been excusing in our fandom, who post comics crying about how black people want equality, who whine that Nazis “should be tolerated.” No. They are committing real-life terror attacks, literally murdering people on the street in the name of Trump. We would not allow open ISIS supporters here—we cannot allow neo-Nazis and KKK types here.
Sociologists call this problem a “tolerance paradox”—if you allow toxic people to twist your group’s tolerance to condone their hate, your group becomes less tolerant overall. Then more and more moderate people are driven out until only the hate group remains, having eaten your group from the inside out. This isn’t a flaw with tolerance. True tolerance is active. It’s sticking up for people with less power, attesting to their right to be different. Passively letting genocidal bullies take over your fandom others isn’t tolerance—it’s being a lazy jerk.
Charlottesville is a wake-up call to any furry who thought Nazifur was harmless make-believe. Anybody who sticks with Nazifurs now is showing you their true character. Publicly associating with that community after the terror attacks means you’re okay with what they did, that it’s no big deal to you.
CAN’T WE JUST GET ALONG?
I believe in tolerance. We can’t live in harmony with people who want to kill us. “Tolerating intolerance” isn’t tolerance at all, it’s putting your comfort above somebody else’s safety.
I believe in compassion. You do not serve the cause of compassion if you let murderous thugs gain power. Bullies rely on our desire for peace and tolerance, which is why the cry about being persecuted when called out for persecuting others.
I believe in diversity. The fandom is lucky to have people from diverse backgrounds, and we benefit from their unique perspectives when solving problems. But listening to different viewpoints only makes sense when both sides have merits. There’s no merit to “let’s kill everybody who’s a different race/orientation/religion than me.” What would a compromise there even look like? Only killing some of those groups? Idiocy. It’s treating self-described wannabe serial killers as having a legitimate philosophy we should learn from. Again, no furries have argued to me we should “just get along” with ISIS.
I believe in harmless fun. But Nazis are murdering people in the streets because we’ve been lulled into thinking it’s a weird fetish we shouldn’t kink-shame. It’s not. It’s literally the idea we should murder everyone who disagrees with white supremacism.
I believe people can change—some already are. And I spent months talking to folks in that community. But, for all their claims of being reasonable and logical, I got led around and around, having every logical fallacy thrown at me in the hopes of tiring me out and having me slip up so they could claim victory.
BUT BOTH SIDES!
Black Lives Matters is not shutting down furry cons. Feminists are not shutting down furry cons. Communists are not shutting down furry cons. Anti-fascists are not shutting down furry cons, doxxing, swatting, or costing $10,000s in legal fees. Nazis are. Our minds love binary opposites, but we can find no symmetry here. Pretending some balancing force exists only keeps us from confronting the problem, since it allows us to tell ourselves the two will cancel out without our having to do anything. I wish.
The time for smugly saying “what about?” and “both sides!” or “I never see it…” or “it doesn’t affect me!” is over. Nazis love these supposedly “centrist” excuses. Refusing to condemn Nazis doesn’t make you a savvy centrist. It doesn’t even make you coolly detached. Let me tell you about apathy. Apathy is fearful rationalization. Apathy is an emotional defense mechanism—and not a healthy one.
“Everything’s fine…” Apathy purrs in addictive tones. “Because if it weren’t fine, you couldn’t justify doing nothing. You’d have to Do Something. And where would you start? It’s such a complicated mess. And ya might fail. That would suck. And you might look stupid for changing your mind. Better to do nothing. Better to crouch here with me, between good and evil, and hope that’s enough to save your pride and your life. It’s fine. Both extremes are the same, anyway. They have to be, right? They’ll cancel out. +1 and -1 equals zero. We’re smart here in the middle. Everyone else is just stupid. That’s why they’re worked up. It’s fine. You couldn’t change anything anyway. Everything’s fine…”
But it’s not fine. We are past the point where you can be “not into politics.” Every furry in every nation is responsible for who we are as a fandom. Stand up. Either you oppose white supremacy in the fandom or you’re fine with it. (No, I’m not over-simplifying. There are literally just two positions. You either believe some races as sub-human or you don’t.)
And you can’t just wait for it to blow over. This isn’t just another fandom spat. It’s not “just online drama” when real-life people are being murdered. The Nazis in the fandom and the ones out marching with torches are the same people. They visit Stormfront, worship Trump, make death and rape threats to minority and female furries, and participate in the coordinated attacks. Some of them even traveled to Charlottesville to join in the terrorist attacks.
If you’re different, it’s their stated goal to literally murder you—no matter how much they say it’s for the lolz. They aren’t real furries.
WHY DO THEY WANT TO BE NAZIS ANYWAY?
Basically: because it filled an emotional void for them, at least in the beginning.
In another life, I worked in a drug rehab center. Hate’s like a drug. It pumps you up, makes you feel sure of yourself, gives you a rush of endorphins. It’s a powerful neurochemical response, designed to help you fight off physical threats. And you can get hooked on it. It follows the same pattern as any other addiction. Back in rehab, we called it “the only addict story.”
– First, you think you can use it casually, socially. You’re just playing around. You can quit whenever. Whoever supplies you frames it as users versus people not in on the fun. You feel like you’re one of the cool kids. (In the case of hate, we’re talking about “non-PC” memes and jokes about minorities and women. If you’re older: Fox News and talk radio.
– Then your brain acclimates to those endorphins. You need more to get the same rush. you think you’re clever enough to outsmart their own brain chemistry. Nobody has ever succeeded. (Moving on to harder stuff: racist articles on InfoWars, Breitbart, Stormfront—racist videos on YouTube.)
– Next, your brain acclimates so much, you feel like shit at your natural endorphin baseline. You start building your day around the fix. You keep it on you. You sneak a little during other activities. (If you’re addicted to hate, you bust out your phone and cruise the Nazi image boards or chats. Older folks just leave Fox News on all day.)
– Finally, your friends and family start to notice you’re addicted and freak out. They try to get you to stop using. So you hang out almost exclusively with the one group who won’t ask you to quit: other addicts. You tell everybody who’ll listen that you’re a rebel, because really you’re surrendering control. On some level, you know this is a bad move, so you shut yourself away from anything that makes you feel bad about using so you don’t have to think about it. (You start only listening to news sources that validate your hate, no matter how flimsy or convoluted the logic has to be to do that.)
– Then you’re really in a bind. The cool stuff in your life starts falling apart, so you’re depressed and crave fixes even harder. People start really taking advantage of you, since you’ve got nobody reliable to fall back on. Plus, you’re super easy to manipulate since you’ve built your identity around the fix and your brain chemistry is all over the place. (You get roped into doing stuff the “old you” would’ve rejected because it’s stupid or fucking evil—online harassment, doxxing, swatting, and, in the case of our own local Nazifurs, actual real-life terrorist attacks.)
Some asshole always benefits from these latter stages, and it’s never you. Like I said, this is the only way addiction goes down. Ruthless people who know how this goes down can get money, willing pawns, or heck even cult members by hooking vulnerable people. Addiction is vital to recruiting terrorists, but, since we don’t think of hate like a drug, it can seem like only someone inhuman to start with could be radicalized. Cult leaders punish those who drop out or speak up. Again, you don’t see antifa furries doxxing people. Remember: the human mind is wired to see mirror opposites, even when none exist—just like it’s wired to see faces in the clouds or the moon.
I don’t hate addicts. If I did, I never would’ve gotten into the business. I feel bad for them—they’re using to offset something they’re not getting in their lives. But you can’t let addicts run the show. Eventually, nothing is important as their next fix. Not their job. Not their family. Not their friends. Not another human life.
Thing is, you can’t force an addict to get clean. Even if you lock them away from their fix (and other potential fixes) for a few months —i.e. rehab— so their brain chemistry normalizes and they build new habits, they’ll fall back into addiction unless they fix the underlying emotional problem they had. Only they can decide to do that.
In the case of Nazifurs, I’ve seen the same underlying causes a lot. These sync up pretty well to other terror groups.
1) They don’t feel as powerful as they think they’re supposed to. You see a lot of young men there because we have this idea in society that men should be impossibly tough, strong, and aggressive. It’s called toxic masculinity. It’s also why Nazis idealize masculinity and get really threatened by trans folks, powerful women, gays, and anybody else who doesn’t fit into traditional gender roles. Hence why you see so much “SWJ” hate. Ever notice why so many GamerGaters got drawn into voting for a pseudo-manly strongman and now into Nazism?
Society is more accepting than ever before. We’re starting to see gender and race not as absolute categories, but as spectrums. This is threatening to the almost uniformly white and male Nazifurs because they feel like they’ve had power stolen from them. They throw a tantrum when they’re not the star of the show—when we get female Ghostbusters or a black gunslinger or a queer X-wing pilot. The openly-idiotic doublethink of “white genocide” resonants with Nazifurs, since it justifies horrible acts since you’re suddenly the victim.
2) They feel like they don’t fit in. Remember being a teenager? Yeah, pretty much any of those reasons. Ever wonder why there are non-white Nazifurs? Because they don’t feel American enough (or whatever country), and white nationalism sold to them as a way to be more so. Of course, they’re still brown, so they can fall out of favor with their new “community” dangerously fast.
3) They have a mental condition —anxiety, depression, et cetera— and are “hacking” their brain chemistry with endorphin rushes. We call this self-medicating. (We all self-medicate to some degree, relaxing meditation or video games or whatever. When it’s healthy, we call it a “coping skill.” Or, you know, getting real meds from an actual doctor. That’s also better.) But hate is really difficult to manage, even by drug standards. Mental illnesses get worse, not better, when you’re pissed off all the time and not learning to deal with your problems.
You’re probably feeling bad for Nazifurs. You should. That means you have empathy. Being an addict of any kind sucks, but being radicalized with hate is super insidious because there’s no physical external drug to blame or even notice—just your own brain chemicals. Pity these guys. But don’t let them use that pity to manipulate you: deflections, excuses, playing the victim. (Addicts quickly learn to be master manipulators, helped by the fact that you’re nothing compared to the craving.) Don’t let them off the hook. They’re not smoking pot. They’re addicted to being pissed off—pissed off that Jews and black people are alive. That’s really dangerous, because the brain is wired for violent confrontation, not peaceful cooperation, when doped up on hate chemicals.
Here’s the problem: we can’t lock Nazifurs up to break their habit. We can only lock them out. And we should. They don’t have the right to hurt people. Letting addicts hurt others only pushes them deeper, because guilt catches up to them when they’re not using, so they use more. The good news is the furry fandom isn’t the entire world, so their family and real-life friends may notice they got booted from that talking animal thing the liked. Or they might have to get arrested. Addiction sucks like that. In the meantime: fandom quarantine is best for everyone. Seriously, they’re fucking around with their brains and obsessing over the idea of murdering people.
WHAT CAN I EVEN DO?
First off, follow AltFurryBlocker on Twitter. Install the blocklist. Even if you don’t normally like blocklists. Even if you aren’t seeing the problem on your feed. The more regular furries who use it, the quieter the Nazifurs get. They may not have targeted you, but you’re helping to protect women and minorities in the fandom. Right now it’s just a basic blocklist, but they’re updating it into an auto-updating one that adds/removes accounts as Nazifurs make alt accounts or have changes of heart.
Next, learn about how fascist groups work. For those who haven’t seen it yet, this short video is a very good analysis of how fascist groups work.
Don’t be scared off by the creepy preview image.
After that, talk to your friends. Tell them you can’t believe this bullshit. If they make shitty racist jokes, remind them who they’re associating themselves with. If you have a friend who leans right, make sure they know where the line is and if they cross it. A conversation with someone you trust is miles better than avoiding arguments on the Internet. Talk to the people in your life, even (or especially) if they disagree with you. You don’t need to debate them, you don’t need to “win” an argument. Just talk to them and empathize and get them to see you and your concerns. Your moment of bold empathy inoculates them against this sickness.
Don’t debate Nazis. They’re just going to string you along. It takes way less energy for them to spew talking points than for you to refute them—and by the time you do, they’ve moved the goalposts. And don’t let them fool you with their newest sanitized hashtag. Tolerating intolerance isn’t tolerance at all.
Block users who spread hate. Report them. Delete their comments. Oppose them on every platform you use. Stick it to them in a thousand little ways. It makes a difference. We outnumber the Nazifurs 10,000:1. They can’t stop us. And they won’t try. I’ve been bullied to hell and back. Bullies are cowards. Always.
Don’t give money to artists who celebrate or excuse Nazis. Don’t favorite or share bigoted art.
Write to your favorite furry conventions. Tell them to ban white supremacist gear from cons, if they haven’t already. Don’t let Nazifurs shut down any more of our cons.
And sign on with your local Indivisible group if you live in the US—there are now at least two in each US congressional district (see Twitter and Facebook). That’s never happened before, and it’s all happened since the election. You might have noticed the largest sustained protest movement in US history. That’s us. If you live in another country: vote, protest, and stop this hatred in your country. Get organized.
If you found this journal compelling, share it with your furry friends. Spread the word. The world changed and Nazis can play the victim no longer. The free people of the world won’t play those games anymore. We’ve seen them kill six million people.
WAY AHEAD OF YOU
If you’re already in this fight, I give you this:
– Resist them in the streets and parks—with bravery, with organization, with solidarity.
– Resist them in your daily life—with compassion, with tolerance, with humor.
– Resist them in your heart—with beauty, with love, with self-care.
You rock, and I’m in this with you. If you want a daily dose of Liberal Cowboy Activist Tempo, please see my Twitter: https://twitter.com/tempowrites
See you out there. #resist
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