This. Is. UTAH!

That is not a photo of jr high kids dressed as furries

A classic moral panic is growing in Utah. The target: furries. Or, rather, imaginary furries. A few middle school kids wearing headbands has been inflated into wild stories of kids in animal costumes rampaging through the school, bullying and harassing the conservative kiddos.

Last Wednesday, dozens of students skipped class to gather outside a Payson, Utah, middle school for hours and chant, “We the people, not the animals!”—a protest launched over the dramatic accusation that their classmates were running wild as “furries” and attacking other students without consequence.

Much of the hysteria, however, has been blown out of proportion.

Footage from the scene showed them hoisting signs declaring, “Compelled speech is not free speech,” “We won’t be compelled,” and “We just want to learn.” A fourth sign read, “You can’t ignore us,” with a drawing of an animal print covered with a prohibition sign.

“They’re sitting on all fours in class,” one student told conservative livestreamer Adam Bartholomew as the kids (and some parents) lined the road to Mt. Nebo Middle School. “They’re wearing animal costumes. They’re growling at us, barking at us in class, it’s very distracting.”

“It’s very sexual and inappropriate,” the pupil added of their tween classmates accused of being “furries,” a subculture that dresses up as anthropomorphic animals and which has become a conservative bogeyman.

“They’re wearing butt-plug tails underneath skirts. They’re wearing dog collars to school with leashes hanging off. It’s not OK.”

As you might guess from the right-wing buzzwords on the signs being paraded by the offended parents and their dutiful offspring, this is a ginned-up controversy. They’ve got Glen Beck and Libs of TikTok riled up, which is exactly what they want, but none of the ‘extreme’ events they’re talking about have actually happened.

“We’re not really sure how it exploded as quickly and as crazily as it did, but what we can tell you is there have been zero incidents of students biting, licking, all of those things that have been claimed,” Sorenson continued.

“We’ve never had any reports, either from students or any observations by teachers or administration,” Sorenson said. “We do have cameras in our buildings, so we can see literally every inch of the building. And we have not captured any of those types of events occurring. So those, as far as we’re concerned, are just completely fictitious.”

Sorenson said the district doesn’t allow kids to wear masks or costumes, but the accused “furries” were asked to stop wearing headbands with ears; they complied immediately.

Further, all you have to do is look at the parents to see where these stories came from, and why.

“I’m glad this is going to go national,” wrote Eric Moutsos, a dad and former cop who once made headlines for refusing to ride at the front of a Salt Lake City gay pride parade.

The chat also included Bartholomew’s wife Cari, who is running for the Utah State Board of Education and has decried the “hard left educational turn” in the state.

One parent of a student organizer insisted that her daughter single-handedly planned the protest and a petition that collected over 1,000 signatures. “If you are hearing otherwise, YOU ARE BEING LIED TO. #LIVE NOT BY LIES.”

Some messages, however, seemed to indicate the parents shaped the kids’ protest posters.

“The kids really want to hammer this home,” the woman wrote in an earlier message. “WE HAVE TO CHANGE OUR POSTERS. The message needs to be: I will not comply. Compelled speech is not free speech. Live not by lies.”

Pledger, in her own message, advised parents to tell their kids to remain calm and not engage in teasing or bullying. “THE OPPOSITION SIDE WANTS OUTRAGE!” she wrote.

I think I know who is benefitting from outrage, and it isn’t kids, or furries, or the school. Outrage is what the Libs of TikTok and far-right freaks live on, and if they have to, they’ll make shit up.


  1. mordred says

    If kids wearing animal ear headbands scare you, you should consider getting professional help!

  2. raven says

    It isn’t too surprising that this happened in Utah.
    Weird things happen in Utah all the time.

    During the second half of the 20th century, there were wars between the polygamists that killed dozens of people. No one much cared though since it was polygamists killing polygamists. I once tried to count up the dead and gave up at 50.

    Utah is famous for the Mormon Gulag where they run a prison camp system for…their children. Kids die in them.

    I have relatives in Utah and used to spend a lot of time there.
    The state itself is spectacular with 5 National parks.
    I also used to have a lot of friends there.
    Past tense.

    Over the years, they all gradually moved away and most of them ended up on the West coast. It was the Mormon culture that runs the state that they just got tired of.
    As a nonMormon, you will always be a minority, always surrounded by a weird extremist culture that is destructive to people, and your vote will never count.

  3. whywhywhy says

    I am getting tired of this crap. Does that mean it is working?

    Is this how Trump wins in November? Is this why he is leading in the polls, even though he is being criminally prosecuted?

    I was a kid in the 80s and everyone around me was so happy with Reagan and I didn’t understand why. He seemed to be ignorant of so much of the world and was serving racism and rich folks. I get the same feeling about Trump. I don’t understand why folks can support him. What am I missing?

  4. raven says

    I had to look it up.
    Payson is in Utah county, the most Mormon place on the planet.
    It is part of the Provo, Utah suburban sprawl, near Brigham Young University in Provo, and has a new LDS temple.

    Payson: “- 93.3% are Church of Jesus Christ.”
    This is a monoculture of Mormons.

    The chance of anything happening as they claimed is zero.

    It’s likely though that a lot of the kids are growing up in a dysfunctional, extremist environment. At least some of the Mormon kids rebel and get out of the religion as soon as they can.

    To get an idea of what Utah county, and the Provo area is like, this is where that recent case of public child abuse happened.

    In December 2023, Ruby Franke pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree felony aggravated child abuse. According to Utah law, each charge carries a possible prison sentence of one to 15 years and up to $10,000 in fines. Feb 21, 2024.

    Ruby Franke lived in Springville, which is near Payson.

  5. StevoR says

    What’s something much more fragile and volatile than a snowflake?

    A super not sized but fragilised exaggaretion /caricature thereof?

    We need a more accurate applicable word /metaphor for the reichwingers here..

  6. euclide says

    I miss the good old time when moral panics were caused by role playing games and heavy metal

  7. StevoR says

    @12. euclide : Remeber the good ole days when they hated Harry Potter & JKR becoz shock horror, fictional witche sand wizards?

  8. birgerjohansson says

    I dug up a video from a year ago that is relevant for explaining the function moral panic is serving.

    “Satire in the Age of Murdoch and Trump” |  Jon Stewart and Ian Hislop (two veterans of exposing lies) discuss how we got into this mess of fake outrage and desinformation. It is a rather long video but well worth your time.

  9. StevoR says

    They are outrageous in their feigned outrage
    Hypocrites beyond measure
    Their projection beateth the iMax screens in its size,
    Nay even Jupiter to Earth
    Or Betelgeuse in supergianthood compared to our daytime star
    Their overweening projection overpowers
    In the full gargantuan scope of its extreme pettiness.

  10. mordred says

    @12: Okay, anybody want’s to start a Metal band performing in fursuits and singing about Dungeons and Dragons?

    I have to pass, my musical talent wouldn’t be enough for the Sex Pistols…

  11. jenorafeuer says

    I can get you two of those anyway… Wind Rose cosplay as Dwarves while playing metal. They even did a cover of ‘Diggy Diggy Hole’ at one point, and it is hilariously awesome. I also know at least some musicians that play metal and are furries, but they don’t usually perform in fursuit (that’s a recipe for overheating).

    Commander Meouch of TWRP actually does perform in partial fursuit, but TWRP isn’t exactly metal. (More electro-rock or synth-pop.) Their songs are also more likely to be anime than D&D.

    So while I don’t know anybody who does all three of those, several folks have done at least two of them, and so doing all three isn’t outside of the realm of possibility.

  12. says

    Thinking about it more the curation of experience is at least in part an unprocessed blaring negative feeling about something they won’t look at. I told my Dad it felt like everything we feel negatively about seems to go to politics and he hogwashed himself out the door. So I looked angry? Weakness.

  13. Akira MacKenzie says

    Why are we even complaining? It’s not as if the truth convinces them because they don’t accept anything that doesn’t come from sources outside the right. Shaming doesn’t work because they never considered their bigotry wrong and only “degenerates” and the immoral (I.e. the “woke mob,” “social justice warriors,” politically correct thought police,” “communists,” etc”) would call it “bigotry.”

  14. lanir says

    Butt plugs do sound serious and sexual. But I’ve never tried sitting through a class with one on. How is that supposed to work? And which of their parents explained butt plugs to middle schoolers?

  15. gijoel says

    @20 Cause it’s pearl clutching

    Pearl-clutching is a deliberate and potentially bad-faith reaction to a comment and a form of civil POV-pushing. It is done in order to exaggerate the effects and impacts said comment had. “Well, I never!” and “Oh my stars!” are phrases you might expect a pearl-clutcher to say.

    Pearl-clutching is very similar to tone policing, a form of anti-debate tactic intended to distract from the main point of the discussion.

    It’s goal is to shit stir a minority, and energize the faithful. I can guarantee you that some of the readers here are going to have this bullshit raised by a relative or coworker, and a thread like this can at least forewarn them of this bullshit.

  16. says

    I use hand-wringing instead of pearl-clutching now. Gettin’ all hand-wringy over animated animal fandom, CRT, protesting black people/Palestinians…

    Maybe like the irrationally socially aggressive ones really want to find a scape-goat no one cares about and who until now was a source of amusement, curiosity, or confusion. The starting and transmitting of paranoid pointing makes for two routes.

    Something like it happened on 4chan too with furries and bronies, bigoted as even many of those people also were. Not so much of a scape-goat element though from what I remember.

  17. NitricAcid says

    @#17 Do the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets count?

    Their songs are more about Cthulhu mythos than D&D, but the Mormons won’t know the difference.

  18. says

    What’s wrong with “hate-wanking”? Unless it’s somewhere in the culture already. There’s also disgust-wanking, secondarily to fear-wanking. It’s the unreasonable component. There can be many rational disparaging labels.

  19. NitricAcid says

    Ah, strike that. The right-wing nutcases won’t know the difference. I do know some semi-sensible mormons who play D&D.

  20. karellen says

    hoisting signs declaring, “Compelled speech is not free speech,” “We won’t be compelled,”

    Huh? What speech is being compelled?

    Nothing in the report seems to imply that the anti-furry protesters are being put under any pressure by anyone to make any particular pronouncements? I don’t understand how that even ties in to the thing they claim to be protesting? It seems like a bizarre non-sequitur?

  21. Morgan says

    karellen@28: It’s because they’re using furries as a proxy for trans people, and recycling talking points that don’t apply. In this mapping, “a kid claiming to be a wolf” is equivalent to “a boy claiming to be a girl”, and “being expected to agree that they’re a wolf” is equivalent “compelled speech” to “being expected to use the correct name and pronouns for a trans person”. They left out the part where there’s an actual expectation to talk about the supposed furry kids in any particular way, but consistency isn’t a priority. In fact, inconsistency is arguably a benefit since it amplifies the dog whistle and makes it harder to argue against them without getting bogged down in their nonsense.

  22. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 25
    Ironic considering that Sandy Peterson who created the RPG Call of Cthulhu, helped with the development of DOOM and Quake, as well as other tabletop and computer games is a practicing Mormon.

  23. raven says

    Here is your Daily Weirdness in Utah news story.
    It never stops.

    KSL Deleted for length.

    Alleged Utah employee charged with sexual battery after skirt-dispute video goes viral
    By Ashley Imlay, | Posted – April 25, 2024 at 11:53 p.m.

    Self-declared state employee charged with sexual battery after restaurant incident

    ST. GEORGE — A southern Utah woman was arrested Wednesday and accused of sexual battery after police say she approached another woman whose skirt she deemed to be too short and tugged on it at a restaurant.

    The incident at a crowded St. George restaurant was captured on video and shared on social media, where it went viral. The video shows a woman apparently confronting someone and saying “I happen to work for the state,” while displaying what appears to be an ID badge and threatening to call child protective services. During the 36-second video, the friends of the woman wearing the skirt can be heard saying she’s 19 years old and “You do not get to touch her.”

    Police say Ida Lorenzo, 48, of Santa Clara, called 911 on Sunday to report harassment in connection to the previous night at the restaurant.

    “Ida would like to talk to an officer about a woman wearing a skirt that had hiked up” inappropriately, according to a police booking affidavit, “and there were several minors and small kids present; staff and other adults weren’t addressing the issue.”

    Lorenzo then “approached the woman and pulled her skirt down and told her to be aware of what she was showing, especially with small kids around; this caused all the people with her to accuse (Lorenzo) of sexually assaulting the female,” the affidavit states.

    KSL has learned Lorenzo may be an employee of the Utah Attorney General’s Office. In a statement, the office did not confirm her employment but said it is “aware of the alleged incident and (is) addressing the situation.”

    According to the affidavit, Lorenzo said the woman entered the restaurant “wearing explicit clothing that was exposing” herself inappropriately.

    Lorenzo told the officer that the woman “ignored” her, so she threatened to contact child protective services to file an indecent exposure report, police said. The affidavit notes Lorenzo reported thinking the woman was a minor as well.

    Lorenzo stated that she “never touched the female, and that she had only touched the female’s skirt,” police said. The officer told Lorenzo that she had “still engaged in criminal behavior by touching the female’s clothing, and that her behavior was not appropriate.

    “I asked her why she did not call the police, and she told me that it would have taken the police too long to respond, so she had to take action herself,” the officer wrote.

    Police said the woman who had her skirt pulled down contacted them on Monday and reported that “she was sexually assaulted while in the lobby” of the restaurant. She said the woman “confronted” her “while her back was turned to her, and without any notice, or formal warning, she felt cold hands go up her skirt, touching her buttocks before she felt her skirt being pulled on,” according to police.

    The woman said she was “startled” by the interaction and “felt violated,” the affidavit states.

    Police say several other witnesses spoke to them about the incident. The woman provided police video of herself in the skirt that she wore the night at the restaurant and disputed that she had exposed herself inappropriately, according to the affidavit.

    Lorenzo was arrested on Wednesday and charged the same day with sexual battery, a class A misdemeanor.

    Contributing: Lauren Steinbrecher

    Saint George is in southern Utah and is heavily nonMormon. Actually it is 65% Mormon so that makes it a city full of heathens and Gentiles by Utah standards.

    This woman decided she had to be the clothing police and assault a young woman in a restaurant.
    Much of what the Mormon Karen is claiming is false.
    The young girl was wearing underwear which means her genitalia couldn’t have been exposed.

    Ms. Clothing Police is now in trouble with the police for assaulting another woman.
    She also is in fact, a Utah state employee.
    She works for the State Attorney General, an elected position in Utah, who is also, no surprise, a very creepy guy.

  24. raven says

    I’ve seen enough of Utah to make some general comments on their public schools.

    .1. They are 100% owned and controlled by the Mormons.
    It would be rare to have a school official who isn’t a Mormon, even in areas with fewer Mormons.

    .2. In a place like Payson, which is a Mormon monoculture at 94%, the chances that this middle school has any nonMormon kids, openly Trans or gay kids, or anyone who isn’t part of the Mormon clone factory is about zero.

    NonMormon kids in the public schools usually get bullied and discriminated against.
    A lot of LDS parents will tell their kids they can’t associate with nonMormons.
    In a place like Payson, I can’t say how bad it would be, but probably worse than you can imagine.

    .3. All the nonMormons know enough to send their kids to private nonMormon schools. Even the atheists send their kids to private religious schools.

    .4. The public schools tend to not be very good.
    Utah doesn’t fund their public education all that well.

  25. Walter Solomon says

    lanir @21

    And which of their parents explained butt plugs to middle schoolers?

    It’s called the Internet. I’d be more surprised if middle schoolers didn’t know what buttplugs were. It’s obviously bullshit that students are wearing them of course

  26. raven says

    Utah currently maintains its second-to-last position, according to the latest rankings released in May, which are based on financials from 2021, the most recently available nationally. Utah allocated $9,095 per student, a third of New York’s $26,571, which claimed the top spot. Jan 8, 2024

    Utah still spends less on education by student than most states
    The Salt Lake Tribune › News › Education

    Utah ranks 49th in funding per student for their public schools.
    No surprise.

  27. Walter Solomon says

    euclide @12

    I miss the good old time when moral panics were caused by role playing games and heavy metal

    Which of those caused the Satanic Panic nonsense of the 80s? If anything moral panics are far more subdued these days probably because they’re obviously culture war bullshit.

  28. says

    @Walter Solomon
    This is the moral panic.
    All the consequences of irrational fear of race, sex, gender, identity… people have been jailed, and are currently being legislated as public threats. Like librarians and sex and gender.

    You have gotten used to it. The “millions of women as brood mothers birthing babies for satanic sacrifices” type are in q-anon, but I see the claims about Palestinian protestors as similar.

  29. says

    “They’re sitting on all fours in class. They’re wearing animal costumes. They’re growling at us, barking at us in class, it’s very distracting. It’s very sexual and inappropriate. They’re wearing butt-plug tails underneath skirts.”

    I’m starting to wonder how much this is being influenced by teens who think it’s morbidly hilarious to watch adults freak out over their increasingly ridiculous lies.

  30. says

    Huh? What speech is being compelled?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if bigots started claiming ALL forms of politeness toward people they hate — like having to say things like “please” and “thank you” and “excuse me” — are “compelled speech.” If they’re not there already, that’s clearly the direction they’ve been going in since that “Masterpiece Bakery” case.

  31. Walter Solomon says

    Brony @42

    How many people have gone to prison over these furry claims so far? How much has been spent on investigations and court cases? This is a nothingburger.

  32. StevoR says

    @41. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite : “I can’t forget the moral panic about elections too.”

    Moral panic? Was it either moral or panic really? Or cynical disgusting attempt to oppose democracy and thwart the willof the American people that they never really believed in terror at their (reichwingers, Christianists, tea partiers, Trumpists fascists) knowledge that they would lose actual free and fair elections and could only impose their wishes by manipulating and rigging elections? The very thing they’d typically project against the rest of those in the USA..

  33. StevoR says

    Clarity fix :

    Or was it a cynical disgusting attempt to thwart Democracy – the will of the American people – that they never really believed in. Their (reichwingers, “Moral Majority” that was actually neither, Christianists, Tea Partiers, Trumpists fascists) knowledge that they would lose actual free and fair elections so had to somehow break and ruig elections to get the power over others they seek.

    Becoz my outer clumsy fingered typist is always far quicker than and more stuff up prone than my inner mental editor at putting things.

  34. says

    It’s in the open ended fear that creates a sense of contagion. I may be a bit off from academic views, I’m going off of my perceptions.

    Feelings that there is a problem with election machines with no concrete source or understanding about election machines. This leads to “fishing expeditions” looking for random things, even normal things, that seem bad to some.

    Or the knee-jeek urge to investigate black population areas for voting irregularities without cause.

    Or the feeling that because of timing, batches of votes arriving by a process, are somehow a concern just because the process made the favored candidate suddenly lose.

    The feeling of contagion without a concrete object leads to the panic over group rules, morals.

  35. says

    Well, the concern over group rules, processes, objects, associated officials/leaders, and all that entails. Since the fear comes from a social source, a political/group ally or leader, that does not offer concrete evidence, it starts as just a feeling.

    Then they go attach the feeling to things. If they were rational they would look up things about the problem but…

  36. says

    The concept “circular reporting” applied to political and other gossip works here. Cycles of gossip without error checking and even things to prevent error checking to create the “hive mind” as opposed to average group social cohesion.

  37. jamiejag says

    @lanir, 21

    I believe the operative word should be “in” not “on,” but I’m only guessing.


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