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Megaplex coerced by new Florida state law to make furry convention 18+

Edited by GreenReaper as of 14:34
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On May 24th, Megaplex, a furry convention that has taken place in Florida for two decades, had announced that for the first time restricted attendance to those 18 and over only. This was done in response to a recently passed law, SB 1438, which expands the authority of the government to revoke business licenses and impose fines in response to situations where children are exposed to live performances deemed “problematic for general consumption”.

Many have raised concerns about recent changes in Florida legislation. After reviewing Florida SB 1438 it has been decided that for legal reasons and protection of our attendees, our venue, and the overall convention, Megaplex 2023 attendees must be 18 years of age at the time of registration pickup.

Megaplex has welcomed younger fandom members and their families since its inception and making this change was very difficult. The Code of Conduct has been updated to reflect this change and emails are going out to those affected.

While this change impacts the 2023 convention, it is unsure if this will have to continue for future years. It is our hope that this change is temporary and that we can welcome members of all ages back next year. With this in mind, the public decorum portion of the Code of Conduct as well as standards for programming, attire, and behavior in convention space will not be changing and will continue to be enforced as it has been in the past.

This decision has been a difficult one, but Megaplex has not forgotten about or abandoned our younger fandom members and is looking into options for events and activities to include all age ranges and their family members.

Many have also voiced concerns regarding CS/HB 1521. After legal review, it has been concluded that this does not affect us as our convention is held in a private venue. We are talking with the hotel about the possibility of offering gender neutral restrooms in the convention space. If we are able to offer this we will have them clearly marked on our convention map.

If you have any additional questions regarding any cancellations requested, please feel free to contact us at [our registration team email].
Megaplex; May 2023

The rule and the threat it has posed

The law in question deals with live performances before individuals who are under the age of 18 being too adult in nature. While parts of the law use words indicating salaciousness and sexual based content, there are elements within the newly applied rule that are more loose and open up an avenue of attack should individuals wish to bring the wrath of the state down upon groups they don’t care for.

“Adult live performance” means any show, exhibition, or other presentation in front of a live audience which, in whole or in part, depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or specific sexual activities as those terms are defined in s. 847.001, lewd conduct, or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts when it:
1. Predominantly appeals to a prurient, shameful, or morbid interest;
2. Is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community of this state as a whole with respect to what is suitable material or conduct for the age of the child present; and
3. Taken as a whole, is without serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for the age of the child present.
-SB 1438 - Emphasis Added-

When it is noted in point two as a performance being patently offensive to the standard of the adult community of the state, it is not defined how such standards are determined. Because of this, such interpretations would more than likely be at the discretion of enforcement via the executive branch, currently headed by Ron DeSantis.

With DeSantis’s recent push of legislation against people who are within the LGBT+ community, along with individuals who hold similar views to the governor pushing to harass venues for PG performances of individuals dressed in drag reading stories to children, it can open the door for Megaplex to expose its venue space to fines and vital business license suspensions. Taking steps to only allow those 18 and over to attend should remove these risks and liabilities.

The bill CS/HB 1521 referenced in the announcement is a law concerning public restroom facilities and the state’s enforcement of maintaining their traditional segregation of such facilities by physical, and state defined at birth sex. It is one of the well known rounds of legislation implemented by the LGBT+ hostile government.

According to this announcement, their review of this law indicates it can only be applied to state facilities such as jails, schools, and etcetera. Private facilities such as the hotels and the convention venues cannot seem to be held to this standard, and so Megaplex does hope to implement gender neutral facilities for its gathering this year.

A hard decision with a stilled tongue

Furries were upset at the situation, and some were frustrated at what appears to be a capitulation by Megaplex. However, a furry lawyer by the name of Boozy Badger explained why it can be difficult for a non-profit organization such as Megaplex to make statements that vocally opposes legislation like this more openly.

While there is no blanket ban on a 501(c)(3) making statements about legislative actions, there is a risk inherent in it. A 501(c)(3) is barred from participating in political campaign activity -or- substantial legislative lobbying, at risk of losing nonprofit status.

The first [stipulation] is [relatively] easy [to understand]: don’t endorse candidates, don’t allow candidates to campaign at your event, don’t promote or discourage a platform. The second part is harder. What is substantial legislative advocacy/lobbying in the context of the organization? What meets that test?

The long and short is 501(c)(3) non-profits may feel they cannot speak on or against issues without risking the additional scrutiny [to their non-profit status]. And while they can speak about issues in an educational manner, there’s a line that they have to establish. Indeed, in most cases it’s important for them to consult with legal counsel before making statements about legislation, holding workshops, or otherwise holding educational sessions about it to make sure it won’t jeopardize the non-profit status.

And, in some situations, that review may end with “We can probably say X, but it’s safer not to.”
-Boozy Badger


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This story has caught the attention of national and partisan news sources across the USA, flooding my inbox with Google Alerts along the lines of "Leftists enraged that kids cannot attend furry convention due to law ratified by DeSantis".

It's part of a pattern of furry fandom being caught up in the politics of sex and gender; from supposed school litterboxes, to its equation with homosexuality in Russia and parts of Africa. Unfortunately it's hard to see how this can be avoided in such situations, as conventions are expected to convey to both current and potential members the reasons for their decisions. Indeed, Megaplex declined to comment to Rolling Stone's original story, perhaps foreseeing what might result.

At its core, furry fandom is not a political or social movement, but many of its adherents are involved in them - often, but not solely, to the left - and frequently mix the two areas of interest by appearing in suit at events. This usually garners attention; but the risk is that furry fandom as a whole is also associated with such movements - which may ultimately put innocent fans in danger, especially in less tolerant regions of the world.

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Shit take

Review Martin Niemöller's "First they came for" and get back to us

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You know Martin Niemöller was an enthusiastic supporter of Hitler, right? Niemöller didn't "say nothing" when Hitler persecuted Jews -- he cheered it on.

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Thus the line "Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew"

I mean, that's literally what that line means. It doesn't use the phrase "say nothing", instead it insinuates "not speaking against it"

And yes, the author is admitting they were seduced by Hitler's authoritarian regime. Again, it's the whole point of the piece. It's a warning that he lives with the regret of not speaking against him sooner.

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Thanks, genius, for misconstruing a reference to a famous quote on its own with a pointless "but but" out of context. Here is the context, which does not invalidate the quote.

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The owner of pedobunny lecturing on staying socially acceptable to soothe bigots 🤣

fellas will they be ok with the cub porn if we don't say anything gay?

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Possibly. It's not a particularly partisan topic, having a balance of supporters and detractors on all sides. Those outside the fandom seldom focus on how big the animals are.

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Wow an even more unrealistic fantasy than loophole-childporn: the fantasy that if gay people hide from bigots, they won't come for the loophole-childporn too.

Also lol at bothsidesing between visible gay people and bigots from the position of holding open the loophole... What are priorities? Can't allow human rights if they get in the way of childporn distribution.

A staggering display of rhetorical hopscotch to get to the very worst position with the most petty self-service. Peak smoothbrain lolbertarianism.

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but the risk is that furry fandom as a whole is also associated with such movements - which may ultimately put innocent fans in danger

This phrase right here is the one I feel is quite problematic and sheds some light on an inheritantly dangerous political belief. It does this for two reasons.

1) First and foremost it implies that those movements are in some way "not innocent" or in the verbiage of the state "guilty" for the advocacy.

Political advocacy and lobbying of the government by individuals who simply wish to live their lives without the government treating them as a stepping stone, invisible stair, or at the worst a group of people to actually eliminate though the legal system should never be inferred nor implied to be a guilty party. Advocacy and lobbying is the bedrock of concepts like the first amendment, and if practicing it is something that is to be used by the state as a means to punish its citizens, then everyone, whether furry or not, will indeed be in danger.

2) Language like this sets up excusing the abuser.

It is indicating that should the furries have just been "good boys" and not challenged those in power that they would not have gotten hurt. Look what you made the government do.

When in reality, if verbal challenges do cause physical responses by the government it is by far more of an evidence that the vocally abused were correct to protest in the first place.

But the advocates for the abuser will use that language to go: "Look, your own were warning you, you shouldn't have said anything and you wouldn't have gotten hurt." So be careful with your defensive language, it can be used to excuse atrocities.

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You're welcome to replace "innocent" above with "uninvolved", as that was my intended meaning of the word.

My position is not that action against activists is (or is not) justified, but that those furries who choose to involve themselves in activism could avoid actively doing so as furries when addressing those outside the fandom, and doing so may reduce blowback against furry fandom in general.

[It wouldn't have helped in this particular case because politicians - probably inadvertently - seem to have involved furs.]

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That (or is not) is doing so much to show what you really are

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I'd like to know just exactly what kind of "live events" Megaplex has/had planned that would've run afoul of the statute in the first place.

I mean, FFS, is it really so hard to, y'know, just NOT fly your freak flag in front of other people's kids?

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Wearing fursuits

That's your answer

This law and the rabid bigots behind it conflate drag and similar expression with "adult behavior". Mrs. Doubtfire reading a book to kids is considered "adult" by the vague, overreaching law.

Your best move here is to slink away quietly to save face after posting something embarrassing.

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Really? So, fursuiters routinely "depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or specific sexual activities as those terms are defined in s. 847.001, lewd conduct, or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts" in public?

That ACLU article is engaging in a lot of groundless speculation, and undermines its own credibility when it poses questions like:

"Will parents be able to take their families to the opera if there are singers performing in roles that require cross-dressing? What about Shakespeare performances?"

when the law itself contains three tests which have to be met:

1. Predominantly appeals to a prurient, shameful, or morbid interest;
2. Is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community of this state as a whole with respect to what is suitable material or conduct for the age of the child present; and
3. Taken as a whole, is without serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for the age of the child present.

Operatic performances and Shakespeare theatrical productions clearly would not meet conditions 1 and 3, at the very least. So by posing such a reducto ad absurdum scenario in the first place, I'm not inclined to take the rest of their arguments seriously, and neither should you.

And let's be clear, here: The "drag queen story hours" are, by and large, not being hosted by "Mrs. Doubtfires" who are dressed up like sweet little English nannies. The "drag queens" (or the ones I've seen photos of, at least) are deliberately making themselves up as grotesque parodies with the intention to shock and offend. When you intentionally set out to "freak the normals", you don't get to act all surprised and innocent when the people you intended to shock and offend get shocked and offended.

As for my "best move", I shall give your advice all of the consideration it deserves. Which is none.

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So the question then becomes how do you prove point 2? How do you read the minds of all the adults in the state as a whole?

The second point in that really opens the door for the government to step in to 'represent' the alleged minds of the 'adults of Florida'. It's an impossible metric to measure scientifically, so the government will use "feeling", "feeling" which it itself can impose.

You see, to this type of government, it feels that it is its job to be the parent and that all of their constituents are in fact children. it's why the healthcare industry is now dealing with having to deal with government impositions on adult healthcare in the state of Florida.

Daddy government says no, even though you are over 30 years old yourself.

From my understanding when a law lists thing like that also, it is an "Or" statement, not an "And" statement, yes even though the word "and" is in there. Yes it is confusing and open to interpretations, especially being a young law. I'm not a lawyer, but MegaPlex had at least one read through it, so clearly they decided to take precautions to protect their facilities from daddy government. He's clearly been drinking again.

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People who think governments who write laws like this can be trusted to use their own "tests" responsibly are the world's most gullible bootlickers.

It's a syllogism: fursuits are "adult" because something adult happened in a fursuit one time.

He gives the whole game away here:

"The "drag queens" (or the ones I've seen photos of, at least)"

Lol nice scare quotes, you fragile worm

Get back to your chanboard shithole, troll, and stop embarrassing yourself.

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Okay, you're both deflecting and what-abouting (anon and ACLU, to clarify); on one hand, yeah, we know they're not going to go after fucking opera and Shakespeare, because who fucking gives a shit? On the other hand, we also know, they're going to fucking go after furries whether or not they're "flying freak flags" or whatever. I mean, I haven't spent the last two decades being told to "yiff in hell, fur[expletive]" for having a generic fox avatar to not learn that nobody outside the fandom distinguishes between variations of "clean" and "NSFW" furry, and also some people are very aggressively against this non-distinguished idea they have of furry.

And by "idea" of furry, I don't mean their "mistaken" idea; they don't care their "idea" is not 100% accurate. It's not an issue of "education"; you can't "not all furries" these people (much like you can't "not all drag queens" them).
Honestly, I'm on record, very publicly, that I actually prefer the "cleaner" con myself. And I've also been a pretty vocal complainer about previous cons banning kids; I mean, if nothing else, there's some bitter irony in a cartoon animal convention banning children. But that's a personal preference, and in this case, seeing as how the convention didn't have a problem before, I don't think there should be one now. But there is, and it ain't the convention.

There is no "cleaning" up that will satisfy people who don't like furry. Like, going back to Oklahoma conventions, I mean, I thought Tails and Tornadoes was pretty clean, but the thing is if Oklahoma continues to crack down on "anthropomorphism", like, yeah, it's still screwed. The thing is, if you think the other Tulsa convention, fucking Free For All, is safe, because they're the "conservative" convention, you're fucking dumb as shit. They're fucked just as hard, arguably harder, because they're too stupid to see it coming. (Also, they're actually way dirtier than T&T and MegaPlex combined; seriously, they're GOHs are Kabier and Jasonafex, who's stock in trade is rape and bestiality comics.)

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I was gonna say, Megaplex used to have something of a reputation as being a "PG con" and didn't even call itself "furry" for years (some websites are still in denial over this...). So if they feel they have to go 18+, something's up.

In truth, from this side of the pond, there's some consternation over why America thought having kids running around was a good idea to start with - though most such events require some level of supervision, at least up to late teens. It's far less of a thing here (drop-down, "Open to all ages" Vs "Age-restricted").

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Woosh, there goes the point over your head. The ACLU are authorities on that because of actually fighting those cases through courts. Vague laws criminalize ordinary behavior; the POWER to abuse it is the issue, not your bootlicking idea that they won't, and you know what they say about power corrupting. It is capricious law targeting gay people and you can just drop the "but but" and sit down.

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Uh, did you mean to reply to me, because I'm not sure we disagree, here?

Or probably you just read the first paragraph where I did take a potshot at the ACLU (I mean, they take edge cases a lot of times, that's where they get the experience for their authority), but I'm literally saying "yeah, they're gonna use these laws to fuck us because they want to fuck us". My point is literally they're not going to go after Shakespeare because Shakespeare's not gay (well, one does hear things, but that's off topic).

As far as bootlicking goes, I literally called out the conservative convention that literally licks the boots of the far right, and said "they're also fucked" because I know that it doesn't matter. The people behind these types of laws hate furries, so they will try to destroy furry. It doesn't matter if it's clean, kinky, conservative, liberal, straight, gay, paper, plastic, if it's a furry convention, they want it dead because it's furry.

If there's disagreement here, it's a "spirit of the law" versus "letter of the law". If the Florida law was perfectly written and not vague at all, they'd still use it to fuck Megaplex because they want to fuck Megaplex. Likewise, they're not going to fuck Shakespeare, because they don't want to fuck Shakespeare.

The ACLfuckingU may have experience arguing in court, but in the real world, it's a pretty fucking stupid argument they got there. I don't know why you care so much about the ACLU's honor here, they're not going to fuck you either, because they don't want to fuck you, nobody does. In conclusion, I'm on your side, you fucking idiot, what are you even doing here?

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Presenting yourself as a poor writer and communicator with an even worse personality isn't even a good use of the one place where anyone might care what you think. Consider getting a hobby, but don't consider moving out of kansas or wherever

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Flayrah is my hobby. See, that you don't get that tells me it's not me, you're just an idiot.

Also, angry about something; I don't know if it's actually the topic at hand (if that's the case, go with God, my child; just, you know, check your fire, buddy) or if you just like fights. If you just want to fight, sure whatever, I already told you this is my hobby, but if we're going to fight stupid, let's fight about something a bit more stupid, you know? Can we do that? Like, the Florida situation is pretty fucked up, but there's not a lot of nuance there, actually. Like, it's bad, on that we both agree (unless you're just trolling), and the fact that we just don't like each other doesn't have much bearing on the matter. This response to the anon #12, this part is pretty good:

Wearing fursuits

That's your answer

This law and the rabid bigots behind it conflate drag and similar expression with "adult behavior". Mrs. Doubtfire reading a book to kids is considered "adult"

I'm going to quibble, however, this should've been cut:

by the vague, overreaching law

Attacking the law on it's "vagueness" is, I'm going to opine, not helping, because saying there are cases of drag that are "okay" implies there are cases of drag that are "not okay." Or, put another way, saying "this will outlaw unintended stuff" implies that the real intent of the law, what it's actually intended to outlaw, is okay to outlaw. I'd also quibble that drag and fursuits, even innocent versions, are considered "adult" by vague, overreaching lawmakers, and that's the real issue.

But that's just my two cents. Otherwise, like, tone down the aggression; that's my job. The ACLU may be more experienced at court cases, but I've got way more experience at pissing off random anons, as I'm sure you can attest.

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The old ACLU did. The current ACLU has become captured by the "progressive"/woke/whatever movement. They no longer hold to the principles they once did and they have been making moves to no longer stand for free speech but to only take cases where the defendants share their specific ideology.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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The New York Times has a long article on this topic, for those who aren't aware of recent changes.

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"sweeping claim after sweeping claim, a fast and loose approach to the facts, and surgical removals of relevant context that reflect poorly on @nytimes editing."

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Reminder that the NY Times editorial board defined free speech as a “fundamental right” to voice your opinions in public “without fear of being shamed or shunned.” WHICH IS THE OPPOSITE OF FREE SPEECH. Shaming and shunning is MORE speech.

Midwits with these surface opinions worship at the altar of Elon Musk ("Twitter is the free speech wing of the free speech party"), which is going very well right now ;) and lack capacity to critically assess their own definitions or the many kinds of power that make "free speech" a convenient cliche to wheel out depending on which billionaire, corporation, or fascist agenda it's for.

It's cheering for Elon baselessly calling someone "pedo guy" as a free speech champion, while simultaneously having tantrums about how people blocking you online isn't free speech.

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I think the thing you two, as Europeans, may miss about the AMERICAN Civil Liberties Union is that a lot (I would even venture to say most, but I'mma keep that parenthetical, I can't really back that up) of actual Americans think the ACLU is kind of a bunch of kooks for taking those KKK/Nazi/also just too many other very, very edge cases, and honestly, the feeling is that they just kind of always sucked (sorry, also, that one anon; but it's true), and that article's opening paragraphs is basically one old lawyer's "wait, am I the bad guy?" realization moment. And I wouldn't say they're out and out bad guys, but a good analogy might be they are to free speech what PETA is to animal rights. Both organizations have good intentions, and support good causes, but they go about what they do so poorly you see them come up and you're like, "uh, these assholes again."

Which is a hell of a thing to say in a Flayrah comment section involving me, you two, and multiple anons, to be fair.

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I'm not European...

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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You are African or European!

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See that's an Americanism - You are where you reside, not where you were borned.

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Not sure where that comes from. Nationality is a thing. African-Americans still have to be Americans, else they're African Aliens.

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Getting flashbacks to when my Indian immigrant neighbor asked me one time, in full seriousness, "What does it mean, 'black' people?"

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When midwits run out of thought, they post hackneyed quotes from famous people they don't know and link poorly written, factual error riddled opinion articles they just looked up to confirm their empty, cliched beliefs.

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Honestly, anything "SFW" isn't furry. Furry has been a queer community for decades and I'd like to keep it that way. (Remember, you can't remove the SEX from biSEXuality).
Therefore, for example, "family friendly" cons like Anthro Northwest are not furry cons. (they're a con, but not furry)

This comment is not in support of anything Florida's government is doing.

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There's an argument that furry was born when Taral Wayne wrote to Vootie decrying the lack of sex in funny animals, inspiring Omaha the Cat Dancer. However, "maturity" comes in many forms. Albedo Anthropomorphics was one of the first to venture into this space, and only contained a minor amount of sexual content, its characters spending most of their time dealing with other "serious" topics.

In any case, it seems like ANW is in agreement, at least in terms of identity:

Sometimes people call us furry, but we see ourselves as an anthropomorphic arts convention. We are a fusion of furry, professional costume designers, cosplayers, and performers. We exist to harmoniously bring out the best in all of these diverse communities.

It must be remembered that it was in some ways a reaction to the collapse of Rainfurrest - I imagine it's been hard for local "furry" cons in subsequent years, and the community may also have wanted to go in a different direction.

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Fox News chimes in. Ugh.

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Watching Cenk Uyger absolutely RAGE in DEFENSE of furries on The Young Turks has brought this ol' wolverbabe to tears. :')

Right-Wingers Are Reviving The War On Furries

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This situation has personally affected me. I am worried about going outside because of the political climate I live in. I am worried about saying anything in defense of the LGBT+ community and furries. My time at a furry meetup in a different state was one of the happiest days of my life, but economical issues pushed me to a place that is cheaper than where I was. A consequence being that I now can't go to the places I love. I do acknowledge that the furry community can be a little over the top and "yiffy" but at no point did that ever make me feel uncomfortable. Because that happens in private and people probably have the common decency not to just walk up and start doing it on the floor. I feel attacked, and I feel very lonely. Even worse for someone who has no friends, quit his medications, and has never been in a romantic endeavour. I really hope we can give peace a chance. But after seeing all the things Mr. Desantis has done and the very obvious groups he is appealing to, I don't think it'll happen. Not here at least. I love you, floofers.

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Thanks for your words, I'm sorry you're going through this.

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