UPDATE 10/10/2008: Proof of the Furzi’s virulent anti-Semitism.
The Nazi Furs and VR Nazism
In case you are unaware, there is a group called the Furzis in Second Life. The name is combination of Furry + Nazi = Furzi. They dress like Nazis, have constructed a Nazi bunker, and worst of all, they are selling anti-Semitic propaganda.
As unfortunate as it is, a group of those cute little anthropomorphic avatars have turned to Nazism to satisfy what they claim is a “uniform fetish”. The display of Nazi symbols, wearing Nazi regalia, and other forms of Nazi worship have long since been rejected as glorifying the works and deeds of Hitler, and many European countries such as Germany, France, Belgium, and even Poland have laws against Nazism in any form. The display or sale of Nazi paraphernalia is banned in those countries. Yet these individuals regularly cover themselves in Nazi regalia as if the swastika has no more meaning than the ingredients label on a box of oatmeal.
While the Furzis claim to be ‘history buffs’, the fact is they have modified the Nazi uniforms to fit their own gang. In some cases, instead of a swastika on their arm band, there is a paw. The uniforms are not all the same, so one many have a swastika, and another an SS Death’s Head or Totenkopf. As for their claim that their interest in these symbols is historical, by their own admission they do not reenact any historical events.
How the Story Broke
On March 22 a Jewish girl by the name of Blaze Burns was shopping at Black Ops Guns and Gear, a weapons supply store, when she encountered a furry by the name of Shani Nosferatu wearing an SS officer’s hat with the Totenkopf symbol on it. Blaze, being Jewish, took great exception to this and asked her to remove the hat. The request was refused. A dispute ensued and the owners of the premises were called to the scene. Mavericus Nelson, Kayla Stonecutter, and Maverick Garfield, all employees of the store, stated in chorus that Shani had the “right” to display the Nazi symbol. Miss Burns teleported out of the sim with the prophetic words, “if you, or anyone allows NAZIs to run around in your sim you are going to have trouble from me and anyone i can find to help me.” To which Kayla replied, “have fun wasting your time then.”
Blaze alerted WebJedi Regent, also Jewish, to the situation, and requested his help to deal with the store owners. When Mr. Regent arrived at Black Ops Miss Nosferatu was still wearing the SS hat and all three admins were present. He protested, “you have someone wearing a NAZI uniform in your sim.” The reply from Kayla Stonecutter: “and? nothing illegal about it.”
Mr. Regent called the behavior “despicable”, “disgusting”, and “abhorrent”, at which point Mr. Nelson ejected him from the sim. Mr. Nelson was later quoted as saying, “let me state this there are Nazi political parties all through out the United States they are factions protected under the Constitution and how dare you sir tell people what they can and cannot wear.”
After all of this Miss Burns wanted to know where the hat came from; she tracked it back to Das Waffenamt – German Military Outfitters in Triphosa, a store owned by Spotz Spork and Rainbow Pirandello, Großadmiral and Reichsmarschall of the Furzis, respectively. Her discovery was announced over IM on the group Jews of Second Life.
Along with several other members of the JSL and the Zionist Association of Second Life, I confronted them at their store. Specifically, we took exception to several anti-Semitic propaganda posters they are selling.
Let me be absolutely clear about this point: The Furzis are selling anti-Semitic posters, which were distributed as propaganda during the Holocaust. Whether or not you agree with the Furzi’s assertion that the 1st Amendment of
the Constitution of the United States gives them the right to walk around in public wearing Nazi symbols, surely any reasonable person would agree that Nazi propaganda blaming the Jews for the World’s troubles and encouraging hatred of them is hate speech, which is not protected by the 1st Amendment.
Upon being questioned about this behavior Mr. Spork said, “the message behind all propaganda is the same, that someone is the enemy. What makes the US and Russian ones okay, but not the German ones? Now yeah, I know that the level of atrocities was different, but atrocities were committed by all sides.” I pointed out to him that the Nazis did not wage war against an opposing force with respect to Jews, they implemented assembly line extermination of an unarmed minority. He repeatedly refused to remove even the anti-Semitic propaganda posters saying it “wouldn’t make everyone happy.”
And what is happiness to the Furzis? Dressing like Nazis of course. When Unclejimbob Emmons of the ZASL asked them to “get rid of all the Nazi regalia and we will be happy.”
Mr. Spork responded, “Then me and my group wouldn’t be.”
“Wouldn’t be what?” I said.
“Happy.” he replied.
“So you’re not happy unless you can wear swastikas,” I asked. His response: “I enjoy wearing uniforms.”
Incredulously, they were upset at being called Nazis, even though they were dressed as Nazis, in a Nazi bunker, selling Nazi paraphernalia.
According to Rainbow Pirandello, the Furzis have had several incidents of both griefing and legitimate protest, and have threatened to use the Banlink system against the JSL.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve done anything bad or not. If you yawn on my land, I have the right to ban you,“ said Miss Pirandello. “Go read up on the land owners rights policy – I can ban whoever I want for whatever reason. And since I have had multiple people griefing and harassing from your group that’s all the reason I need. Consider your entire group banished from my land. Have a good one!”
The Furzis decided it would be humorous to put the Banlink sign directly over the anti-Semitic posters. Rainbow Pirandello: “Y’could put the banlink sign up right above the poster cubes.” Spotz Spork: “lol I will. Logging off now, I’ll just make something quick. IM me on YIM.”
I sat down with Mavericus Nelson, the head of R&D for Black Ops and the acting CEO in the absence of Grey Blankes, the owner, as she is currently deployed to Iraq, in order to get his perspective on the situation.
Miss Nosferatu “did not bother anyone or cause any problems, we even gave her help when she requested it, she was wearing a questionable outfit to say the least but it was her own prerogative to wear what she deemed fit. She was wearing a world war two German Gestapo uniform with swastika armband,” said Mr. Nelson.
“Mr. Regent arrived at the store and entered to shop, he caught eye of Shani and what she was wearing and started verbally harassing her, calling her a furry Nazi and other more colorful terms.”
“Now I don’t agree with what she was wearing but we have the [G-d] given right and freedom to wear and express ourselves as we see fit, as I told Mr. Regent when he contacted me yesterday saying that he was quote ‘if you wish to change your position I will require an announcement in group chat on the Black Ops channel recanting your support of the Nazi furs, and forbidding the display of Nazi paraphernalia on any property over which you have admin authority’.”
I pointed out that the 1st Amendment only protects freedom of expression in the public square, not on private property. “Yes it did take place on a private sim out of the public area, but I still have core believes that I will not forget just cause [it is] a private area.” But later Mr. Nelson stated, “Shani coming into the store may not of been a ‘peaceful assembly to express her beliefs’ but she at no time took aggressive steps towards anyone.”
So, in fact, Mr. Nelson did know that the Nazi uniform was not an attempt to make a political statement, but goes on to justify his actions under the auspices of non-violence. Never mind that a swastika is as close to a symbol of non-violence as we are to teaching dogs to do our taxes.
Additionally, there are many examples of “speech” or “expression” that are not protected in any venue, such as yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater or child porn. I asked how he could make such a distinction.
“Yes people do participate in pedophilia and its evil and wrong, but yes the Nazi party was evil and wrong but it is historical, it happened, there’s nothing we can do to change the fact that it happened, and for all we no Mrs. Nosferatu was on her [way] to a WWII reenactment of some sort.”
It is certainly difficult to believe that the reason Miss Nosferatu was dressed as a Nazi was that she was in transit to a WWII reenactment.
“I will not hinder someone against their own creative image, unless they are doing something that clearing (sic) and is morally wrong, or violated the second life TOS.”
But is it not a violation of the Community Standards section of the TOS to dress as a Nazi?
“Combating intolerance is a cornerstone of Second Life’s Community Standards” is the very first sentence describing the “Big Six” rules of conduct. How exactly does allowing a person to wear a swastika constitute “combating intolerance”. Has moral relativism now extended so far that Jews are considered “intolerant” when we object to the display of hate symbols?
The Furzi contend that their Nazi dress and actions are protected by free speech, but they also spread anti-Semitic propaganda under the same argument. What could possibly be more intolerant and, indeed, offensive than Nazi propaganda targeting Jews?
“Yes I am concerned with this group and every group like them that spreads nothing but hate and bigotry, but I cannot go out picking fights with everyone I don’t like because of what they stand for and promote,” Mr. Nelson said. But if what they stand for is wrong and leads to hate and violence then we shouldn’t oppose them by all necessary and proper means?
“This is not a perfect world sir and it’s doubtful it ever will be, but it’s our jobs to keep going and not give up hope. We must all pick our own battles and though we may not always agree with the outcome we have to keep on going, cause if we do not keep our heads held high and look towards the future, then we are doomed to stay stuck in the past.”
So here we are, looking at the same symbols that, 65 years ago, were the last thing seen by 6 million people, that represent the very definition of hate and intolerance, that are so repugnant to the society that spawned them it is punishable by many years in jail just for displaying them – and we are supposed to believe we should forget about? It’s ancient history? I, for one, hope that never, ever happens.
A New Hope
Saturday, April 14th, one day before Holocaust Remembrance Day, I had an interesting experience in SL. After finishing up an interview for this article I met up with Cryptomorph who told me of an incident which had happened earlier that day.
A land owner had to get help from LL to remove a huge sign (~5 x 5 meters) with a swastika on it from a neighbor’s property. I went to see the individual who removed the sign, a non-Jewish Australian, and he took me to see the property where the sign had been. We discovered that the one of the owners of the land (or so we thought) was Jewish. I tracked him down and of course he was as upset about it as we were. In fact, he is Israeli, so as you can imagine he was ready to take more aggressive measures if need be. It turned out he was on the property owner’s list because he helped the person who owns the land build the house that was there. The property had been abandoned and, for some reason I wasn’t able to ascertain, someone had chosen that spot to put up a giant swastika.
So today, one day before annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, an Israeli, an Aussie, a Spaniard, a Dutchman and an American teamed up to combat neo-Nazis; and SL made this possible.
This is only one example of the many experiences I have had in SL that gives me hope that virtual reality is going to facilitate cultural progress. I cannot accept that the evils of RL are inevitably going to infest SL.
Unlike the real world we, humans, are in full control. We created it, and we can manipulate it. Nothing is free, and there is no doubt there will always be those who seek to do evil, but we, as Jews are enjoined by G-d to combat those forces. Whatever effort is required to do so, we must be prepared to expend.
My uncle, a decidedly non-religious Jew, had some good advice for me that introduced a simple, yet profound, concept into my philosophy of life. “Stay in the light,” he said. These four simple words have rung in my ears ever since.
As Jews we are entrusted to be a light unto the nations; thus, where there is darkness it is we who must light a candle. G-d gave us this responsibility. Here we have an entire world to shape, and the concept that we would allow it to mold itself into whatever random design happens to come out of the haphazard contributions of the well-intentioned, the indifferent, and the hateful among us is antithetical to our role.
The Nazis brought nothing but destruction and death. Their legacy of hatred and anti-Semitism lives even today. Jewish graves are desecrated, skinheads and other misanthropes attack Jews, hate groups continue to be formed and recruit new members; the Third Reich will not die of natural causes, we have to kill it. We cannot remain indifferent, we cannot be shy, and we should not and cannot apologize for demanding an end to Nazism in Second Life – right here, right now.
There are two things the world will never have enough of: scientific progress and communication. Second Life has significant potential to cultivate both of these advancements. The question is: who will cultivate Second Life?