“In Civilization and Its Discontents, did Sigmund Freud define a neurotic as an individual holding thoughts that clash with those held by the prevailing culture, an individual who subverts those clashing thoughts to the subconscious that later manifest in the form of anxiety and unnecessary behavior? If this is so, what does one consider a culture whose prevailing ideas express hypocrisy, sham and double-standard? Does this somehow define a neurotic culture?” –Crispin Hellion Glover, 2003
Who are you? Are you human? Are you animal? What separates a human from an animal? Do you believe any such separation exists? If no separation exists, why does our culture conceive of one? Why is the difference expressed in traditional lore, in sacred scripture, and in the configuration of our genetic material? If you concede a difference exists, why did you resist in the first place? Why did you need me to persuade you it does, or at least, persuade you into believing it’s safe to admit a difference exists? Is it because you wish a difference did not exist? Would that be more comfortable for you? Why?
What is the allure of erasing the distinction between humans and animals? Perhaps you lived with animals growing up. Perhaps they gave you comfort. Perhaps they were consistent, dependable, predictable. Perhaps they didn’t judge.
Perhaps you saw depictions of them in the media, representing human archetypes, to provide story content in between toy, fast food and breakfast cereal commercials. Perhaps you believed the animal characters in the media, who could converse and express human powers, would not judge you either. Was not being judged a high priority for you? Did you feel judged by your parents, teacher, siblings, peers? Did they possess an aptitude for responding to things around them, rather than the ideas in their minds? Did you, unlike them, feel more at home with ideas? Did you experience friction with them over this? Did you confuse them? Did you frighten them? Did they worry about you? Did they grow frustrated with you? Did they punish you? Did they judge you? Did you hate them?
Do you still hate them?
Did you notice how animal characters made you feel? Did you notice the decrease in anxiety and increase in pleasure you felt, seeing them interact and reveal basic human truths? Did you identify with their positive energy and naivete when encountering problems and solutions? Did you also realize you were being patronized through the use of these characters, to forge an emotional bond between you and them, through their revelation of truth? Did you notice how many commercial products use animal characters to forge emotional bonds between you, the consumer, and the product they represented? Or the products displayed in the commercial breaks during the program they were in? Did your parents watch the programs with you? When they laughed over Daffy Duck, did this confirm the show’s validity as entertainment? When they failed to be entertained, did you feel embarrassed for enjoying the show? Did they notice the lies expressed alongside the truths? Did you? Were you old enough to have that knowledge? Did they ever bring it up?
Did you notice any strange indulgences on behalf of the shows’ creators, involving erotic or deviant behaviours, involving the animal characters? If so, were these behaviours swiftly condemned by other characters, encouraged, or treated indifferently? Did they have any relevance to the show’s plot? If not, why do you think that would be?
How many attachments did you form with these characters during this time? If not Bugs Bunny wearing a dress, what about Robin Hood, or the Biker Mice from Mars? Gadget from Rescue Rangers? Did you allow yourself to be bombarded by this programming, this propaganda? Was it propaganda? What values did it seek to reinforce? Christian values? Jewish values? Islamic values? Satanic values? Was Saturday morning a shallow marketing tool, or an ideological battlefield over your mind? Why did Sonic the Hedgehog have a fixation for chili dogs, an unhealthy mass-market food product, in a show focused on preserving the environment? Why did the Ninja Turtles do exactly the same thing, with pizza? Was the lie, that life is disposable, being served alongside the truth, that life is precious? Is the message, “eating unhealthy is defensible if you promote environmentalism” a good one for children? Could this brand of cognitive dissonance be responsible for leftist millennials promoting peace, while physically assaulting those who disagree with them? Why did the Clinton Administration pour millions of dollars into regulating violent video games, while programs with multicultural or environmentalist messages were left unquestioned? Why were entrepreneurs and educated businesspeople depicted as monsters in these programs, while ill-informed teenage ideologues were depicted as saintlike heroes? Why did the American left aggressively promote, produce and fund these programs throughout the 1990s?
How did you, the outcast boy playing DOOM on your father’s 486 before he came home from work, respond to this media? Did it occupy your thoughts? Did you dream about living in that world? Did you wish it was real? Did you look at your own miserable cycle, of school and being yelled at, and wish you could rip your body apart and fly into Animal World, where life is adventurous, innocent and colourful?
Think for a moment about fursuits. Think about the people who buy them, and what would motivate them to purchase one. Think about the concealing of the body, to cover its failure to embody the ideal, the beauty they believe can only be embodied by the animal. Think about fig leaves. Think about the garden. Think about shame.
Think about being cast out.
Who are you?
Are you the boy who discovered the internet, discovered talented artists drawing professional-grade depictions of the characters you psychically bonded with? Did you feel disgust when you saw an image of that character engaged in a sex act? Move forward 5 years. You are spurned by a female classmate in high school, when you clumsily ask her to the dance, despite not having ever spoken to her. Do you feel disgust when you masturbate to a fantasy of her that same night, to soothe the pain of her polite rejection? Do you resent the other male students who are rarely, if ever, rejected? Does it increase your feelings of shame and worthlessness? What is the content of the fantasy that soothes this shame? Do you hunt for images online, using keywords corresponding to that content, to have another masturbation session? Does the thought of the animal character you bonded with come to mind? Does that character’s name get added to the keywords? Now do you feel disgust when you see an image of that character engaged in a sex act?
It is the present day. A young man, age 15, has gone through the tribulations above. His male friends are addicted to gaming, his female peers ignore the boys completely. Perhaps they will experiment with lesbianity, if not already. Most of their families are broken, including his. If he declared himself bi or transsexual, he would become immediately popular and fawned over. He would have the semblance of a family, and instant, direct systemic protection from every institution in his life. Self-diagnosed autism is an option, albeit a hard one to keep consistent. Yet he resists, because he knows these would all be a lie. Giving in, he downloads Discord to his phone one night, to converse more easily with his friends who play Fortnite together. Then one of the members of the Discord server mentions furries. How will the young man respond? Dismissive? Curious? Is the member an adult? When the member starts making “goofy, ironic” “jokes” about vore, or goo girls, or other extremely niche fetishes, what is this behavior? Is it playful? Innocent? Is it something more sinister? Is it autism? When the young man starts asking questions, will the member upload digital paintings of overweight cartoon dogs receiving oral sex? Or will a more discreet tactic be employed?
What lures will the fisherman use?
2 years pass. The young man is now 17. His mother notices no difference in his behavior. He keeps to himself, has a part-time job, does his homework. He does chores with minor prodding. He has gifts for programming. She has high hopes. They speak a few words at the kitchen table when he comes home, then they spend the evening apart, doing their own tasks. He goes upstairs, games, discords, and does his homework. And then he purchases the last part of his fursuit. Takes pictures of it, uploads them to FurAffinity, receives adulation from various homosexuals who take on the role of his furry “mom” and “dad”, “brother” and “sister”. They role-play frequently. And they can’t wait for him to go to college, turn 18, and finally be legal.
The young man turns 18. He attends his first convention, in fursuit.
Are you there, at the con?
Who are you?
Are you at the “cuddle party” you were invited to by an overweight, unhealthy man wearing rainbow cat ears and customized neon boots? Is it on a booked-off floor, in a semi-private hotel room, split several ways by several people, with pockets deeper than both of yours? Are rave drugs being passed around? How much profit do drug dealers make through furry conventions? Assume you avoided taking any drugs. Do you strike up a conversation with our 18 year old, who was also invited, and is standing next to you? Does anyone at the cuddle party know he’s 18? Did he tell them he’s 18? Can they tell he’s 18? Is his age posted on his FurAffinity page? Is he wearing a badge that corresponds with the name on his FA page? Could he be lying about his age? Is he really several months away from 18? Does “being in my 18th year” count as 18 to him? Is a desperate 17 year old the best judge of statutory rape laws?
The man in the cat ears says he’s cool with leaving the door open during sex. You thought this was a cuddle party. You ask if this is still just a cuddle party. He says it is, but if you feel uncomfortable, you should leave, because the door will be open. The others look at you. There are at least 8 others. It’s hard to tell with the lights turned low. The 18 year old is saying nothing. Is he uncomfortable? Are they? It’s hard to tell when several people are wearing masks. So you say nothing and pretend nothing is happening. Everything is fine. They’ll be fine.
The man in the cat ears can be heard having sex with multiple people in the next room. The sounds of male and female voices can be heard. After an hour or so the four of them emerge, exhausted. The man in the cat ears leaves the room with another person in a wolf suit. Everyone is lying on mattresses and pillows on the floor, including the 18 year old, caressing each other’s torsos and generally being intimate. Nobody seems to notice or care that you’re not engaging. It suits you just fine. The 18 year old is receiving more attention and affection than he’s ever encountered in his life. He is opening his heart to a 23 year old man. He gradually takes off portions of the suit as they spend time talking. And you stand there awkwardly in the corner, glancing at your watch, wishing you’d made a different arrangement tonight.
Suddenly, the 18 year old realizes his friend, his “brother” on FurAffinity, was the one who left with the man in the cat ears.
His “brother” is 16.
What will he do?
Who is he?
Is he the guardian who chases after them, desperately searching the hallways? When he finds them, will he yell out, “Stop! He’s 16! He’s a minor!”? Will they hear him, and look at each other, and realize they almost made a terrible mistake? Will they thank him for saving them both from such an awful and illegal happenstance?
Or will his “brother” say “No I’m not, I’m 18.”?
And when this is said, will the man in the cat ears ask to see the “brother”’s driver’s license? Perhaps, his passport? And if the “brother” says “It’s in my room”, and they head back there to get it, will the 18 year old accompany them, to make sure nothing happens? Or will the “brother” insist the 18 year old “has an agenda”, and attempt to gain the high ground? Or will the man in the cat ears yell at the 18 year old, for suggesting he is a pedophile? Would the 18 year old be ashamed by this, and convince himself he overreacted? Will he take the risk of alienating his “brother”, and leaving himself open to gossip and the loss of other friends he’s worked so hard to acquire over the past 3 years?
When the man in the cat ears eventually has sex with the “brother” in the bathtub, and nobody is there to hear it, will they make a sound?
Let us imagine they were there to hear it. And they know the real ages of the parties involved. Will they say anything? Will they risk losing their friends’ trust? What if their accusation is proven false? Why is it that, when furries are questioned about safety of minors at cons, they respond with appeals to the “social justice warrior” mentality of their group, assuming someone will say something to the authorities? What makes them so sure, if they themselves are clearly unwilling? Are their hands so clean? Is it possible to have clean hands at a furry convention? Is it possible, after helping clear a path for so many pedophiles to have contact with so many vulnerable?
Life is disposable, but life is precious.
When Joshua “Siskmarek” Barney attempted to lure a minor in Maricopa County, Arizona, why did a Fundrazr campaign get formed to pay for his legal and living expenses? Why did the creators of the campaign insist Barney was a victim of the system, but withhold key pieces of evidence, and edit Barney’s courtroom video footage? Why would these steps have to be taken if he is innocent? Was Barney a well-known “sergal” furry artist? Were his “Justice4Sisk Team” members also part of this “sergal” sub-group? Why was a very large sum of $7,576 donated at the 11th hour, by one of the team? Why did they need to raise $30,000 to file a petition to get Barney off probation, when all he needed to do was comply with the probation terms for a period of several years? Why did Barney repeatedly violate his probation terms by residing in a school zone, and by using the internet? What was preventing Barney from luring another minor with his computer? Why did Barney suddenly insist he was a female after his conviction? Why did members of the team use this gender status to turn their fundraiser into a trans right issue, and claim Barney was being discriminated against by the Maricopa County police? Why did the man who questioned Barney’s innocence get viciously attacked for nearly 4 hours on twitter, in June of 2016, by Barney’s friends? Would this not have damaged their campaign’s credibility? Why were the entirely sensible questions asked by the man considered “slander” by these friends? Did they not understand the conviction against Barney? Did they not care about the children in the school zone Barney had been residing in? Imagine if Barney had sex with a minor at a convention. Imagine he was the man in the cat ears. If these same friends knew about it, would they have reported him? Or would they have started a fundraising campaign for Barney after the victim’s parents reported him? What kind of people start a fundraising campaign for a convicted sex offender in the first place? Who are these people?
Who are you?
Is Joshua Barney a victim? Is he a monster? A hero? Or is he the lonely boy playing DOOM on a 486? Was he yelled at? Was he overprivileged, or denied privilege? Is he in need of compassion inasmuch as censure? Would compassion enable his attitude towards the world, or release him from it? Would censure do either of these? Where is the line between enabling and therapy? Do we even know anymore? Or are we standing in the corner of the cuddle party, glancing at our watch, wondering why we ever showed up, making an effort not to know anybody there, or get involved too deeply? Has the acceptance of the lie, that Life is precious, unless we tell you it’s disposable, been so deeply internalized that you, just another furry SJW, will keep your mouth shut, knowing the fandom is very proactive and will always do the right thing? Always? Always?
There are houses called “furry dens” where several furries live together. Inside, the central features of the living space are computer hardware and desks where couches and coffee tables would otherwise be. What does this say about those who live in these “dens”? What do they value? Do they value each other’s company? If they did, why not invest in furniture that would make conversation and group activities easier? Are they together? Are they alone? Do they mate? Do they care? Do they abuse each other? Do they care? Do their entire lives revolve around escapist fantasy, putting in time before death? Were they abused? Sexually? Physically? Mentally? Why are abuse victims so attracted to VR gaming? Is the thought of closing off the world deeply attractive to them? Is a house full of abuse victims and outcasts a healthy environment? Do they care? Do they want to die?
How many of these people are being created? How many are dying inside? How many are dead inside? How are they being created? What is going on at home? Where are their families? Are they talking to each other? Are they too angry with each other to talk? If a family isn’t talking, and its members can never trust each other, how long will it be before the children seek a new family? “Father”? “Mother”? “My Furry Family”? What are you, their parent, doing to help them resist? Are you taking them to church? Are you praying with them? Or are you convinced these practices are a sham, and result in nothing but empty promises and unfulfilled hopes? Do you tell loved ones “I’m sending you good thoughts” when they’re struggling? How do we “send thoughts”? Are thoughts material? What are the material properties of thoughts? If we cannot claim thoughts have material properties, and are thus immaterial, how are you able to send them? What is the method by which they are sent? What proof do you have they will be received? Are you speaking of the psychic energies produced by thought? In which case, why not pray, since the source of all life and being is univocally found in God, and a source of divine energy would be the medium by which hopes of the heart are delivered to loved ones? Isn’t this a more sustainable model than “sending thoughts”? If the family prays, and discuss questions about God and Jesus Christ, will their children look for families at conventions? On FurAffinity? On IRC? Will they form emotional bonds to cartoon characters, and beg for the products associated with them? Will they be slaves, or freed? Will you be the slave master, the pimp, the drug dealer, or the shepherd who frees them?
Who are you?
This essay is available in text-to-speech format: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gnnEaO966E