When someone says, “I hate furries,” that’s a dog-whistle for anti-queer bigotry. If it’s not immediately clear why this is the case, I’ll explain why this is true.
Observation: Homophobia is typically not tolerated on most platforms, due to it being classified as hate speech. Even if the platform tolerates it, society at large has become more accepting of homosexuality and less accepting of homophobic bigotry, since at least 2015.
Consequence: If you say something like, “I hate gay people” or “Death to all queers” online, it will either get deleted or lead to uncomfortable conversations with your employer and/or law enforcement.
However, there are still some hateful people in this world. Hateful people often feel the need to express their malice in public spaces, so as to resonate with other hateful people and recruit people into their cause. Read also, How White Nationalism Courts Internet Nerd Culture.
The most effective way to broadcast hate speech without it being taken down by content moderators and without being held accountable for your actions is to use what’s called “dog whistle” language. If the moderators aren’t aware of the hidden meaning, they will disregard users’ reports as erroneous.
Make no mistake: Hatred against the LGBTQIA+ community still exists in our world.
If you were a racist bigot, and you wanted to broadcast hatred about LGBTQIA+ people, the obvious thing to do is to not directly voice hatred against the LGBTQIA+ population explicitly. Instead, bigots who want to avoid the banhammer will target organizations that are predominantly queer.
This is where furry hate comes into the equation.
Furries are mostly queer (to some extent): Only roughly 25% of furries are exclusively heterosexual (compared to roughly 80% of non-furries).
Malicious bigots know these statistics, even if not with the precision I’ve demonstrated above. When they attack furries, they don’t really care about our hobbies and interests, they just want a socially acceptable way to fan the flames of hatred against queer folks.
To be clear: It is logically possible for someone to hate furries without any enmity towards queer folks… but in the real world, most people who act on their furry hate tend to single out LGBT furries rather than straight furries.
Takeaway: If you see someone proclaim their hatred of furries, or acting on said hatred, then they are very likely expressing bigotry towards LGBT people through dog whistle language to avoid accountability for their hatred.
More formally, my argument can be stated as follows:
- Bigots use dog whistle language to obscure their bigoted statements in social media. (This is well-known among experts and not controversial.)
- Hatred against LGBTQIA+ people is hate speech. (Varies by jurisdiction, but for the most popular social media sites, this holds true.)
- Hatred against people for enjoying a hobby is not hate speech. (I’m not aware of any jurisdictions where this is false.)
- The furry fandom (a hobby) is overwhelmingly queer. (See statistics above.)
- Bigots that want to attack people with queer identities without their conduct being legally classified as hate speech could simply choose to target furries (which are predominantly queer) instead.
- There are many examples of bigots doing exactly that. Some examples have been documented here and here.
- Therefore, when you see someone say they hate furries, it is likely that what you’re seeing is a dog whistle meant to spread hatred against LGBTQIA+ people.
Yes, furry hate can be motivated by reasons beyond “I, a bigot, want to hate queers with impunity from social consequences.” But when the victims of such hate are mostly queer, your audience should be aware that the dog whistles exist, and judge for themselves.
Addressing Common Retorts
“Wait! I Have a Counter-Example”
My argument here is a probabilistic one. A single contradiction doesn’t refute inductive arguments, only deductive arguments. You have to demonstrate different probabilities (which is a bit trickier than whataboutism).
There are certainly corner cases for which my argument doesn’t hold true, but it’s still cogent.
I opted for an inductive argument because dog whistles, by design, create plausible deniability of the sender of the coded message’s intent.
Plausible deniability makes it difficult (impossible?) to make a valid deductive argument, but you can still make a cogent inductive argument.
“Furries Aren’t an LGBT Identity!”
Of course not. But most of us are also LGBT, and the hatred of furries is almost always orchestrated to covertly target LGBT people. This has been true since the days of SomethingAwful.
It can be simultaneously true that furry isn’t a protected identity and most people who attack furries are only doing so to attack queer people so these sort of non sequitur arguments are little more than Internet trolling.
“What About [Shitty People Within the Furry Fandom]?”
They exist (sadly), but most of them hide their shitty nature from the rest of us because they know we won’t accept or tolerate their behavior. Unfortunately, the existence of shitty people in any meaningfully large group of people is inevitable.
If you know of specific problematic behaviors that aren’t being addressed, that isn’t a reason to write off every furry as deserving of hatred. Rather, that’s a reason to name and shame and raise all kinds of hell until they are addressed.
“What if I’m LGBT and Hate Furries? Owned!”
No, not really.
A few things to consider:
- If someone claiming to be LGBT also claims to hate furries, this doesn’t debunk the observation that a lot of furry hate is really thinly-veiled homophobia (which is what this page is arguing — I am not arguing that they are absolutely equivalent). There’s a lot of historical context behind this assertion.
- Internalized homophobia is rampant among LGBT folks. Being LGBT doesn’t make you immune to shitty, discriminatory behavior.
- A lot of racism, homophobia, etc. comes in the form of dog whistle language. When dog whistles become memes, unwitting people can perpetuate them without fully realizing their original intention. That doesn’t make those people homophobic (assuming they truly don’t know). However, the memes they share are not exempt from being homophobic.
If you’re LGBT and hate furries…
- It could be the case that you’re dealing with internalized homophobia.
- It could be the case that you’ve formed a significant portion of your personal identity on memes that were created with homophobic intent and never realized it.
It could also be the case that you’ve just had a few bad experiences with bad individuals who happened to be furries, and you’re extrapolating from limited data.
But given the strong correlation between being a furry and being LGBT, you may want to strongly reconsider holding onto your malevolence.
“Yeah Well I Hate Furries And I’m LGBTQIA+”
Shame and Internalized Homophobia in Gay Men - PubMed
This study investigated for the first time the relationship between internalized homophobia and shame in gay men. It…
Do you really hate furries? Or do you just think we’re weird? (I am very particular about my word choice!)
Some people claim to hate furries because some popular figure (i.e. YouTubers) decided to parrot anti-furry talking points.
But the talking points they were parroting, more often than not, actually originated from intentionally anti-queer dog-whistles; i.e. SomethingAwful.
So while you or the person you’re pantomiming might not believe you’re spreading bigotry, it’s difficult to trace anti-furry hate back to anything but anti-LGBT dog-whistles.
If that’s the case, the question is: Are your laughs derived from short-lived anti-furry memes really worth the risk of accidentally spreading ideas rooted in anti-queer bigotry?
“Are You Saying I Can’t Criticize Furries?”
No, I’m not. The topic (as stated in the title, and frequently throughout this article) is hate. If what you’re doing isn’t hatred, then you’re out of the scope of this article. It’s a pretty narrow range.
If furry isn’t your thing, cool. Live and let live. We know we’re weird (but, I argue, weird can be a good thing).
“I just think furries are weird” isn’t furry hate. Calling furries degenerates and telling us we should burn in hell is.
If you’re off-out by past experiences with particularly shitty people who happened to be furries, sorry they were trash but that’s not all of us. Feel free to keep your distance and maintain your personal boundaries, but please don’t hate innocent people.
If you believe furry culture is about sexual abuse towards animals or children, you’re sorely mistaken. Seriously, that shit is unacceptable. We don’t tolerate it; and anyone who does tolerate it needs to be excised with the abusers.
“You’re Just Trying to Use LGBTQIA+ People as a Shield!”
I’m here to raise awareness of the simple fact that a lot of furry hate is a dog-whistle for queerphobia.
Whether or not a specific, particular instance of someone expressing furry hate is also a dog-whistle of that nature depends on the message and its context. Some of them aren’t dog-whistles, but without awareness that many of them are, most people won’t even stop to critically consider the possibility.
My goal here is to raise awareness of a particular dog-whistle. End of.
Attempting to read deeper into this post for secret motives is bound to be erroneous. I’m playing with all my cards face-up here.
If you find yourself needing to explain why “I hate furries” is most often thinly-veiled homophobia to another person, save yourself the trouble and just link them to this Medium article.
If they don’t take the time to read and comprehend it, they wouldn’t have given you the time of day either.
If you’re like to be up-to-date on my writing, I’ve moved on from Medium to Dhole Moments.