Accepting isn’t the first term that comes to mind when asked to describe the suburbs. This is not to say that those living on the outskirts of urbanity are necessarily prejudicial, only that the for-appearance’s-sake mentality manifested in the actions of amateur lawn manicurists and inane holiday decoration enthusiasts that are, in turn, policed by cookie-cut Homeowners Associations do not leave much room for a healthy and compassionate response to things lying outside suburbanites’ comfort zones. If this seems an uncharitable reduction of suburban life, it is no different, really, from the treatment furries get from those who don’t understand their Whys and Hows.
Typically presumed by the mainstream to be a highly specialized niche within sex addiction or outright sexual deviants, furries (or those who express some level of furry fandom) are at very least looked at with crossed eyes when making public appearances, if not subjected to outright ridicule. The lack of consideration has, to a large extent, remained peaceful in that physical violence has been less of a problem for furries than have online confrontations over their lifestyle choices.
A recent event (or maybe just the subtext in how the sequence of events were reported) suggests that this might have changed. In Rosemont, Illinois early this morning, the Department of Public Safety responded to complaints of “nausea and dizziness” at a furry convention held at the city’s Hyatt hotel. When it was assessed that the cause of the event was chlorine gas, thousands of people were evacuated from the building and a reported 19 people were transported to local hospitals.
An Associated Press wire story explained that the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, a suburb of Chicago, was hosting the annual Midwest FurFest, in which furries from all over the region come to mingle and enjoy one another’s plush and anthropomorphized-animal-character company. It was this fact that perhaps got the story some national media attention in the first place, as among the hotel’s evacuees were people dressed in, as the AP put it, “cartoonish animal costumes.”
The chlorine “leak” is being investigated as an intentional act, as officials found the chemical in powder form in a ninth-floor stairwell. There is no evidence that the introduction of the dangerous gas into the hotel’s vent system and the furry convention are connected. That is, no one is saying directly (emphasize “directly”) that, assuming this was an attack in some measure, the furries were the targets. However, it does appear that it was the tongue-in-cheek treatment of the costumed attendees that kept anybody with a microphone from uttering the word ‘terrorist’; or really speculating at all during the filing of the report.
At the expense of furries being treated with something more akin to dignity, the public was spared conjecture as to who might do such a thing, and focus remained, no matter how disingenuously, on the victims. Put differently, the verisimilitude to responsible journalism the coverage of this story achieved came about through noting that some of the victims of a possible violent crime were dressed pretty funny. There isn’t a professional term for this phenomenon, but it might aptly be called “unintentional empathy via carelessly rendered derision.”
Accusations that the angle this story is maybe reading too much into things can refer to how much attention gassed victims who were in town for a dog show and not FurFest got from media covering the Rosemont Hyatt chlorine incident. Or, better yet, the number of in-depth interviews reporters sought from any of the “normal” guests of the hotel who likely never spend any portion of their days ever pretending to be someone who they’re not.
On that note, anyone else think fantasy sports camps for adults are oddly sexual?