The Shadow of the Future Fell Upon Us

In the year 2001, the Usenet newsgroup alt.lifestyle.furry had been in existence for five years since it’s beginning in June 1996, and its first post in August 1996, and had become a popular site for furries around the world to communicate online. By the year 2000, 540 Furveys from newsgroup participants had been posted, indicating approximately the number of people participating. Posting news and comments on furry topics was the intent of alt.lifestyle.furry, but topics other than furry had become common. Beginning on September 11, their discussion became intensely focused on the terrorist attacks that occurred in the United States and which would soon affect many people all over the world.

My examination of alt.lifestyle.furry’s activity regarding the events of that day began on my LiveJournal journal in September, 2011, and it featured large edited blocks of the alt.lifestyle.furry posts regarding the 2001 attacks. As such, my posts at that time were extended over sixteen days and may still be read beginning with this post. Those posts attempted to feature the most relevant topics and responses, out of many that appeared on the newsgroup at that time. I have also provided in this essay the URLs for the original newsgroups posts for more reference. For a more abbreviated version of those original posts, readers may view my current DreamWidth Journal beginning with this post.

The discussion began on September 11 with SwiftFox, who posted the initial report of the attack in New York City from The Associated Press.

Posted: “Two Planes Crash into World Trade Center Buildings!

SwiftFox Sept. 11, 2001 9:23 AM

Aircraft Hits World Trade Center

The Associated Press, September 11, 2001 9:09 AM

New York (AP)-An aircraft crashed into the upper floors of one of the World Trade Center towers Tuesday morning, and black smoke poured out of two gaping holes, witnesses said. Shortly afterward a second explosion rocked the other tower . . .There was no immediate word on injuries or fatalities in the twin disasters, which happened shortly before 9 a.m. and then right around 9 a.m. . .Large holes were visible in sides of the 110-story buildings, landmark twin towers. . . The tops of the twin towers were obscured by the smoke.

Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press

Mr Maigo, at 1:28 PM commented:

4 planes total, 92 and 64 people into the Trade Center, 36 from the crash in PA, un-specified amount in the plane used on the Pentagon.

The reaction from furries came quickly.

MechaSquirrel, at 8:40 AM (his local time) commented:

. . . both of the twin towers are gone now, the 2nd one just collapsed also a few minutes ago. Shit . . . it just doesn’t feel real ya know? You expect stuff like this in movies, but not in real life . . .

SwiftFox, at 8:53 AM commented:

. . . My gut is in a wrench. It’s very hard to sit here . . . waiting. I’m waiting for the call for volunteers to fight the fire in Somerset, PA an hour east of me on the PA Turnpike.

David Fox, at 7:55 PM commented:

I saw it live on television this morning. I was in denial until about 3pm CST . . . It was at 3pm on the way back from my calculus class that I saw it on the front page of Stillwater’s (Oklahoma) local papers, the collapsing Trade Center Tower. In my mind it is not truly real till it is in the papers and when I saw it there . . . *I* collapsed. I never cried in public places, never, until today at least.


A second post appeared that morning, also from SwiftFox.

Posted: Our Thoughts go out to . . .

SwiftFox September 11, 2001 9:02 AM

(Our thoughts go out to) . . . the North Virginia/DC furs . . . the Hudson Furs . . . and their families . . . and all the emergency workers, volunteers, military personnel and citizens who are at this moment, struggling to reduce the loss of life and property these blatant attacks have reaped upon the United States.

Please join with me, furs from all over the world, and say a few words; project your thoughts to those at the center of this tragedy.

Kamau 10:25 AM

Prayers have been offered from first word. A mass will be offered at 2:30 by my paws. I will possible be directly involved with some of this due to my role in EMS and disaster response teams. It is a dark day but we must focus to do the greater good to save people first, then deal with those who caused it.

Offering Prayers

Kamau

Nox Corax, at 10:45 AM commented:

It was 7:45 when I first heard about what happened. It didn’t really hit me until I was on my way back home from dropping my sister off at 8:35. I had to pull my car over because I was weeping . . .

Smrgol-};>~ at 12:44 PM commented:

Give blood if you can please, it will be needed.

ziramax, at 3:07 PM commented:

Sending my prayers and thoughts for all those in need. Thanks to all those involved with rescue, aid and blood donation. And candle-light for the grieving and the lost.

Christophe, September 12, 2001 at 6:50 PM commented:

My thoughts go to all innocent people who were injured and killed in this ignominious act of terrorism and their families and friends. Here, in France, and rest of Europe, we are deeply affected by what happens to USA’s people, and which probably concerned some of our compatriots too who were working in those buildings. I really hope that the rescuers will be able to save as many lives as possible.

With all my compassion,

AoiKitsune


A third post appeared that morning, from Kellic J. Tiger

Posted: Please take a second out of your day

Kellic J. Tiger September 11, 2001 9:02 AM

*Sobs-Not a cyber one* Everyone. Please take a second out of your day. If you have religion please pray for everyone involved in this tragedy. The firefighters, the police, the ER’s receiving any wounded, the family and friend of those who have died. Even if you don’t have religion please at least wish them your best.

Ursus Californicus, at 1:57 PM commented:

Sigh. I was sent home along with *all* other state employees for our own safety, though in my point it’s moot, as I was promptly activated as an officer with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. I’m currently waiting to see if I’m going to New York for support. As someone who worked through the crash of PSA flight 182, I can add my comments to the Tiger’s: emergency services personnel work through the tragedy without regard to their own feeling. Only later do we sometimes “lose it”. So pray for the emergency personnel, too.

Yours in fur,

Ursus Californicus (the *Bionic* Yiff Beast of Sacramento)

FlepKitsu, at 9:38 PM commented:

(partial quote from Kamau): “If you get sent out this way let me know seeing you may get stationed near my location.”

Kamau, and anyone else that might be going to help with this—be careful!!! and know, without doubt, that you have the admiration and the prayers of your fellow furs going with you.


In the following post, we see some of the tension felt by some military furries, aka “milfurs”, expressed in their particular fashion.

Posted: SOUND OFF! IONOTTER A-OKAY

Alexandyr Troutnoodler September 11, 2001 9:14 AM

ALL UNITS, ALL UNITS . .

JOHN A. IS ALRIGHT.

SITUATION IS NORMAL

NORFOLK BASE IS CLOSED.

PHONE COMMS ARE HEAVILY RESTRICTED OR DOWN.

CELL NETWORKS OVERLOADED.

DEPLOYMENT STATUS UNKNOWN-PRESUME NON-DEPLOY

I SAY AGAIN FOR PENETRATION . . .

JOHN A. (IONOTTER) IS ALRIGHT.

PLEASE REPLY WHENEVER YOU CAN.

Camstone Fox, at 9:27 AM commented:

(partial quote from Alexandyr Troutnoodler): “JOHN A. IS ALRIGHT.”

CONFIRMED.

CAMSTONE FOX A-O-K.

ALL REQUESTED TO REMAIN CALM.

DO NOT, REPEAT, DO NOT OVER REACT.

Please.


As the day continued, more furries added their comments. Some were saddened, and some were expressing anger. In some comments, the anger was directed at the terrorist, but there were some cases of anger directed at other furries for comments made. As had happened on previous occasions, comments on political topics produced conflicts within the newsgroup. Some discussions did become prolonged and bitterly argued. By 2:24 on September 11 these comments appeared:

No One In Particular, at 2:24 PM commented:

(partial quote from Rust): “I can not begin to express my current hatred for the people of Palestine, who are at this moment in the streets, celebrating the deaths of thousands of innocent civilian victims.”

(partial quote from Baloo Ursidae): “Not that we didn’t give them a reason to celebrate, we got involved in their civil war against them. Sure, we called it peacekeeping, but it’s not peacekeeping when you pick sides.”

Un-called-for Baloo. completely un-called-for. You never miss a chance to whack the country which has allowed you the freedom to natter on against it, do you? Even when 50,000+ INNOCENT people are dead. I was expecting such a remark and praying it wouldn’t come to pass. You never cease to disappoint me.

Wayd Wolf, disgusted . . .

Some furries tried to calm the conflicts.

IonOtter, at 3:03 PM commented:

. . .WAYD . . .chiiilll, my friend. Chill . . . Now is NOT the time for a hot head. *hugs*

David Fox, at 7:20 PM commented:

I’d just like to take my time to express my sincere belief that our system of government is our ultimate weapon and that we should be consistent with it and apprehend the responsible and bring them swiftly to trial. They are attacking ideals not people, so let us show them that our ideals will stand where towers have crumbled.


The emotional shock of the morning’s disaster continued into the following days. Posts and comments to posts continued on this subject until at least the twenty-fourth day of September, 2001. Expressions of sadness, helplessness, and love and support appeared daily. Our furry community is famous for its hugs and here was a big one, generously offered by Flep Kitsu

Posted: A Big Hug

Flep Kitsu September 13, 2001 9:12 PM

I figure we could ALL use at least one of these right now, so here’s my contribution:

::::::::::HUGE, GIGANTIC, VAST, COSMIC, ENORMOUS HUG::::::::::

Camstone Fox, at 11:18 PM commented:

Thanks . . . I needed that.

The list of names of the dead from the Pentagon has started to be released . . . So far, none of the names were anyone I knew . . . And I did walk those halls from time to time . . . ~lights a candle~

Kamau, on September 14, 2001 6:45 PM commented:

Thanks, we all need this right now.

*Hugs*

We will make it through this, we all will and carry the memories of those who were lost to honor them.

Tiado, at 10:01 PM commented:

*Joins in on the HUGE, GIGANTIC, VAST, COSMIC, ENORMOUS, MASSIVE, SIZEABLE, GARGANTUAN HUG*

Thanks Flep, that makes me feel a little better.

Skytech, on Septmeber 17, 2001 5:48 PM commented (in character):

Sky and Lana grab the kits and join in on the hugs. All genuinely enjoy this moment of communal support.


The attacks of September 11 caused the death of at least one known member of the furry community. The chaos of disasters often produces incomplete or inaccurate reports of casualties. Perhaps the following post reveals where the claim that someone named DesertCat, also known as Walter Senge, came from*.

Posted: Safe & Sound

LionKingCMSL, on September 17, 2001 9:50 AM commented:

To all those furs that may be wondering about the “railroading lion” and the aftermath of 9/11/01, I’m fine. JRedWolf (aka JFox), Looksfar, who are now rooming with me, and myself were well away from both NYC and Washington D.C., in transit to the railroad for a special chartered train for that day, when the attacks took place. When we arrived at the station to pick up our passengers, we found out the horrible news and were shocked and saddened. We are also saddened with the confirmed loss of two furs/weres and the possible loss of at least two others. I checked in with some of the furs who I knew that had dealings in NYC and the Pentagon to make sure they were safe and sound and to let them know we were ok. The reason for the long delay for checking in is because I still have a lot to do at the railroad and this is the first time I had time to type up a message.

To all, “Be Well”.

Kamau, at 7:37 PM commented:

Good to hear you’re fine but busy. The events of last Tuesday may just be a plus to railroads. I’ve been hearing a lot of folk on the news mention train vs. flying. Maybe the railroads can get some of the cash that’s flowing to put in more high speed line.

(partial quote from LionKingCMSL): “We are also saddened with the confirmed loss of two furs/weres and the possible loss of at least two others.”

Last I knew we had all accounted for. Who’s missing?

Camstone Fox, at 8:54 PM commented:

(partial quote from Kamau): “Last I knew we had all accounted for. Who’s missing?”

The furry site http://qrm.exodus.net/fur-status.html reports from NYC’s WTC . . .

DesertCat, aka Walter Senge, Deceased

Lisa Gregg, Deceased (furry name not listed)

and FireFoxx—Missing, not heard from.

After checking about . . . there were no furs reported of who are in the Pentagon in DC . . . as I think I am the only fur who visits them on a regular basis for meeting. Bearhug was in the Pentagon City Mall, which is close by, and PandaGuy was working in DC, but no one in DC is missing or unaccounted for. Still . . . as I was reminded, it doesn’t matter if they were furs or not. . . a lot of souls were terrorized last Tuesday . . . let’s not lose sight of that. Ever.

Kamau, on September 18, 2001 10:39 AM commented:

*Hangs head with ears down*

Sorry, I somehow missed that. Not surprising that we would loose someone. I just thought we were one of the lucky few. *sigh* You can count on it. They will be remembered and honored. While I’m looking for justice and not revenge I’ve got to say I’m very much looking for the word to come down that we can begin taking action against those responsible.

Skytech, at 2:24 PM commented (in character):

aaaw . . .

<Lana and Sky’s bodies visibly droop as they read and they lean together.>

Now it’s close. It’s our community.

Yes, that was our community of alt.lifestyle.furry.

When a disastrous event such as the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, or a natural disaster occurs, those of us around it but not directly involved with it, can be left with complicated emotional responses. Through the media we may view the pictures and read or hear of the stories from the site of the event. We know that other humans, and animals, have suffered greatly. In normal people this can evoke the feeling of grief. Our response to that grief can take many forms. Writing, and the reading of literature, is one of the ways we can positively cope with grief. The responses that you have read in this essay have shown some examples of the grief that we felt in 2001. Some people wanted to tell the rest of us that they were okay and that they were forming competent responses to the situation. Some people told us how sad they were, or horrified, by the event. Some were clearly angry. Anger and grief are closely related. Some of the participants on alt.lifestyle.furry, probably without realizing it, may have been expressing their anger about the causes of the disaster in words that they directed at one another.

Writing about our grief, or reading the words of others, can be a step toward healing. In our own writing we can give definition to multiple unorganized feelings. In reading the writing of others we may find the form and substance of emotion that we may not have had the skill to articulate, and we see that others experience emotions as we do. Through writing and reading, an emotionally overwhelming experience of grief, one that we feel is too large for us to begin to grasp, can be brought to a size that we can mentally apprehend.

The events of September 11, 2001 cast a long and dark shadow over the world, one that continues to today. By 2005, the newsgroup had declined and become very inactive. Did alt.lifestyle.furry decline, at least partly, from conflicts generated within the discussion of that event? Possibly only careful review of the newsgroup might answer this. Did some, or many, alt.lifestyle.furry participants gain some peace from the support they both gave and found on alt.lifestyle.furry? We hope this is true.


For more information on the Usenet newsgroup alt.lifestyle.furry, please look at these websites:


* A reply from whitetail on this post adds detail:

whitetail writes on September 11 2011, 05:12:20 UTC Edited: September 11 2011, 05:13:37 UTC:

It’s important to never forget those who lost their lives in this terrible terrorist act of war. However, there is no “Walter Senge” or “JenniferKE” on the official list of 9/11 victims. Additionally, no one in the NY Furries community apparently knew or has even heard of a “DesertCat”, or anyone by the aforementioned RL names. I researched this to a rather exhaustive extent back in 2009, and no further information has been discovered or people who knew him/her have come forward since then. Because there is no known documentary evidence of this person’s existence, either in life or in death, I believe it’s prudent to conclude that this is yet another unsubstantiated 9/11 myth.

Elizatbeth (Lisa) Martine Gregg, however, WAS a real victim of the tragedy. That is no doubt whatsoever about her identity, or her death on 9/11/2001.

Please see also these Wikifur pages: The 9/11 Furry Status Page and Elizabeth Martin Gregg.


Editor’s note:

Fifteen years ago, I was fifteen, a sophomore in high school. School started at seven thirty-five in the morning, and on that morning, I had gotten up early enough that I had twenty minutes or so to spare before I had to start walking.

As was my habit with any scrap of free time I had available, I logged on to FluffMUCK to chat with folks. The atmosphere was undoubtedly strange from the get-go, and it was Leonel who told me, “A plane crashed into the world trade center.” When I expressed confusion and disbelief, he encouraged me to look it up, and so I went to school with the knowledge that something extraordinary was happening.

The teachers and administrators knew that something had happened, and they made a long announcement that, although we were to go to our classes as scheduled, it would be up to the teachers whether or not to teach the subject matter at hand or to talk about the events. In the middle of the announcement, a third plane crashed into the side of the Pentagon.

The released all of the TVs to as many classrooms as possible, and we sat in near silence as we watched the North Tower collapse.

I spent my free period in the computer lab where I helped with the student-run web server, Babylonia. I spent as much time as I could on FluffMUCK trying to get in touch with my partner at the time, Marek, who lived in Pennsylvania. I did the same during the C++ class I was in at the time, where the instructor let us spend the period on the internet reading about what had happened.

We watched the news through the final period of the day, photography, and I still hadn’t heard back from Marek. The punk in the class laughed at my anxiety, and told me that the reason he was better than me was that he wasn’t gay – an insult that was such a non-sequitur that I laughed in his face.

Marek lived. I lived. All of my friends lived. As Shining River writes, there was one confirmed furry lost in the attacks that September, but it wasn’t someone with whom I was acquainted.

2,996 lives and $3 trillion in damages later, my mom and I watched a missile salvo on October 7th, signifying the start of the War in Afghanistan.

This is a furry site, always will be, but we furries are people too. We live in the world, for better or for worse, and the events of the world affect us in myriad ways. In the comments, we welcome you to respectfully share your stories, your memories of that day.

About ShiningRiver

Shining River lives in the high lands of Utah and began participating in the furry community in 1998. Besides furry art and literature, he is interested in Scottish and Irish culture and Western American folk culture and history. You may see him in public performing with a local Scottish bagpipe band.

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