Hindsight is 2020 — Top 20 furry news stories of last year (Part 2)

by Patch O'Furr

Yesterday was Part 1 of a list for articles at Dogpatch Press. These stories aren’t just from 2019. There’s some older ones that had revived or ongoing interest in the year. They’re not ordered by most viewed on top (some of them are deeper dives into brief/specific stories) — but these were the top 20 listed in a way that makes a snapshot of a subculture.

11. Mainstream crossover. Margaret Cho barks about furries, pride, and costuming on The Masked Singer.

This is right on the line drawn by queer/weird power that keeps furry fandom independent. Here’s one of the bigger names in mainstream entertainment who has openly mingled with furries. She takes pride in supporting misfits, was Grand Marshall of a pride parade, and was in The Masked Singer as a singing robot poodle. This article with her drew mainstream news to ask for furry opinions of the show. Expect more because the Australian edition has costumes built by furry makers, and the UK edition had fursuits in a sponsor’s ad.

12. Roots and influence. A furry pilgrimage to the Adult Swim Festival and the Prancing Skiltaire house.

Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim puts weird animation on TV at night and features furries on rare occasions. Their Los Angeles festival was a blast where I was the only fursuiter among thousands there for heavy metal, standup comedy, screenings and rides. Nearby was the oldest furry fan house (in California or maybe anywhere) where the founders of the first fur con show how a few fans can start something much bigger.

13. Fighting hate. The “New Paws” Hoax: How alt-right trolls piled on a disabled man to boost their failing careers.

This was THE most viewed article of the year, but furries didn’t do that (and drama doesn’t deserve #1 on the list.) The malicious hoax came from chan boards and was spread by big troll accounts. Outsiders kept googling and linking to the article, and it helped debunk fake news so it wasn’t worse. It shows how internal fandom power can be weaker than you know externally, and the same old malice keeps going since the media was mocking furries many years ago. Could there be any better argument for why there should be furry news?

14. Beating hate. Story of a Former Alt-Furry: Clouded by Clout.

Fake news and trolling is the toxic waste of social media corps. They profit from cutting out the cost of human moderation, and dump it on the public like a coal factory spewing smoke. It has a human side. Here’s how one person was caught in the haze, but gained clearer vision.

15. Problems high up. The Zaush Issue – leaked private messages make a public discussion.

Not all of the worst things in fandom come from outside. People keep searching to learn what’s wrong, and they find this article. If some of the most popular content in the fandom is borderline-illegal, creatively-empty Disney parody for profit… demand better.

16. Con security. “Confederate fursuiter” Magnus Diridian arrested at Midwest Furfest – what’s the story?

The “Confederate fursuiter” keeps coming up as a meme. Trolling isn’t just a social media problem, it’s a real life problem. It kept getting notice with threats to MFF 2019 from Milo, who turned out to be a paper tiger. That led to my story about Milo that was written by request of mainstream site LGBTQnation: The furry community is very LGBTQ-inclusive & doesn’t tolerate haters like Milo. Then at the end of 2019, Anthrocon’s long time security partners the Dorsai Irregulars announced parting ways with the con. The reason I was told was high rate of volunteer burnout. I think that’s an issue across the fandom.

17. The worst story to ever hit the fandom. Evidence of a furry crime ring emerges: Legal docs and news tie Cupid, more to zoosadism.

THE worst. With tech-enabled secrecy, an urban-legend level animal snuff porn ring reached worse excesses of human evil than could even be imagined. Failure to do anything about it was a black eye about certain parts of the fandom, from Kero defenders to con staff blowing it off. It’s not just for the cops when it comes from an exponential rise of reports way beyond their power, as reported by the NY Times in 2019. The full extent of the story isn’t out yet. However, the ringleader was hit with dozens of felony charges at the end of 2019 and faces 16 or more years in jail.

18. Corporate complicity. Youtube’s popular Reptile Channel has a history of banned animal abuse by JonahVore.

An earlier and now weaker by comparison story of animal cruelty for fetishes, views and profit. Youtube still doesn’t regulate it even when the channel is evading bans. Reptile fans who oppose cruelty cited the 2017 story for new videos in 2019.

19. Justice and safety. Arrest of Growly brings feeling of vindication for furries with safety concerns.

Long going protests about sex offenders focused on one person, but didn’t even scratch the surface of rings or profit operations. More is in the above 2 stories or this previous one: R.C. Fox arrested for child pornography, furries question fandom connections.

20. Reporting for justice. Arrest of Lee Miller (Foxler) brings a call for witnesses to come forward.

Foxler was a troll whose malice fed headlines in Rolling Stone and elsewhere in 2017. Reporting it in furry news led to a 2019 sex offense arrest. Reporting that led to the last story posted in 2019 — Furry Raiders sex crime case: Arrest for felon tied to witness tampering and Milo’s “troll school”.

These come from a margin between subculture and mainstream, where art and events thrive with excitement, misfits give and get support, abuse can hide, and ordinary people do what they can to stop it with only occasional outside help. Of course most people are just here for art, so you might not see the deep stuff unless you get furry news.

See the amount of bad stories? There’s 2 good stories shared for every negative one here, but ones that get notice are evidence that The Medium Is The Message.

COMING UP: Crossover with the mainstream keeps making some of the most interesting stories — and commercializing will keep being a topic  complicated by stories like above. While there was uproar in 2019 about Converse sponsoring a con in Brazil, and worry about corporate takeover, I think that story was mostly a nothingburger about a brief flirtation. There was little risk to furry-made shoe business or a shoe company having a native furry userbase, and ordinary widget-selling companies can worry about backfire from mingling with a subculture, but it’s not like companies never used animal mascots before.

I think the greater risks come from within. Furries have what I would call inherent deficits of open-source fandom. It has to do with gaps in security, moderation and policing itself. It’s not going to get better by relying on for-profit platforms made for advertising and driven by conflict for views, and superficially calling things out. When that’s confined to a bubble like Twitter, it feeds the corporate monster. Real life organizing and in-depth reporting makes a difference.

An interesting comment came in at the end of the year from a mainstream journalist. Remember 2016 news about a triple murder with furries in Fullerton CA, where the full story never came out? There was a conviction right before the start of 2019.

“This isn’t old news at all – in fact, i’m working actively on this story as we speak, and I know a lot lot more than I did then, thanks to the trial in part.” – Sanjiv B, December 2019.

I’m looking forward to a good read from a fandom ally. It has to do with reporting problems for learning and improvement. That needs good media, and much more than just social media. But that’s one of those deficits of fandom that just has handfuls of hobbyists writing about it for the love of it.

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