Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Intellectual Property: Weapon of Censorship and Bigotry

The Center for a Stateless Society and our affiliated student group Students for a Stateless Society recently had our websites taken down due to a spurious copyright claim by attorney J.D. Obenberger. Did we use his client's music or film without permission? Did we reprint an article his client wrote without consent? No. A post on September 13th at merely quoted racist comments made by his client in an open Facebook group and condemned those comments.

Even if copyright were legitimate, and I don't think it is, this is textbook fair use. S4SS quoted the comments for purposes of completely non-commercial criticism.

Obenberger's client, Oliver Janssens, has since backed down and apologized to C4SS for his attack on free speech. But when he filed the complaint, he regrettably put all concern for free speech aside to suppress the fact that he said, "HHH (ed. Hans Herman Hoppe) has the balls to say that, thanks to our welfare state, our genetic pool is fucked. Exactly my thoughts. The only reason the Muslim parasite can breed at a 10 times faster pace than us. Totally love this guy."

It's easy to see why he would want to censor websites that quote him on this. His remarks reveal him to be a virulent racist who holds pseudoscientific beliefs that echo eugenicists and Nazis. By trying to silence critics of his racism, he put the Nazi back in "copyright Nazi."

Janssens's lawyer, J. D. Obenberger, implicitly admitted the spurious nature of his complaint, writing "what follows is not your typical DMCA letter." Dubious DMCA complaints are not new to Obenberger. Instead, he publicly boasts about them, writing:
"If you write the request for a takedown on a leaf of stale cabbage in magic marker, without stating any reason or offering any proof or affidavit pursuant to the DMCA, and transmit it by a casual, friendly courier, who works a garbage truck route running past their office and offers to drop it off for you, most of them will take it down fairly immediately, within hours, because they are more afraid of you and your attorneys than they are of the posters."
In addition to bragging about internet censorship, Obenberger advertises himself as a First Amendment lawyer and defender of liberty. It would be more accurate to say he is skilled at circumventing the First Amendment and squelching liberty.

Obenberger and his racist client are not alone in using intellectual property to censor political speech. Feminist activists with FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture have had their parody sites, which raise consciousness about consent and sexual violence, targeted on trademark and copyright grounds by corporations like Victoria's Secret and Playboy. In response to Playboy's complaint, the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote, "As a news publication that has been involved in its share of controversy, we would expect Playboy to do its best to support political speech, rather than shutting it down. In addition, this political spoof is obviously designed to raise awareness about an important problem, one that we would hope Playboy would want to highlight as well." Companies like Playboy evidently care more about their intellectual property claims than free speech and women's rights.

Intellectual property provides a potent weapon for bigots and businesses to censor political speech by their critics. But there's good news for those of us who support free expression and believe that bigotry suffers when illuminated by public debate: the Streisand effect. The Streisand effect is the simple fact that censorship online almost always backfires. It certainly did in this case. Before Obenberger tried to use legal force against C4SS, only regular readers of C4SS and S4SS would have heard about his client's racism. Now, readers of sites like Reason and Techdirt are learning that he is a racist, a bully, and a censor. While the state gives bigots tools to silence speech, technology insures that truth will prevail.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Talking Prisons on Liberty Minded

In this video, I talk with Jason Lee Byas, Grayson English, and Kyle Platt of the Liberty Minded Radio Show about the problems with prisons, as well as how we can create alternatives to prisons.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Resisting America's Torture State

I have a new article up at the Center for a Stateless Society, discussing how America's mass use of solitary confinement amounts to institutionalized torture.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

First Post at the Center for a Stateless Society

I now write at the Center for a Stateless Society, an anarchist think tank and media center.  My first op-ed, "ALEC is an Enemy of Liberty", was published yesterday.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

In Memory of Presidents' Victims

On facebook, there is a liberal page titled "We survived Bush.  You will survive Obama."   This appears to define the people who matter as relatively privileged liberals and conservatives.  Privileged American liberals survived Bush.  Privileged American conservatives will survive Obama.  But what about those who don't survive the policies of presidents?  In American political discourse, we so often forget the victims of state violence.  We so often forget those who are killed as a result of presidents and their abusive policies.  This post is dedicated to those victims.

There were many who died as a result of George W. Bush's policies.  Iraq Body Count has documented between 107,055 and 116,979 civilian deaths from the Iraq War.  The Wikileaks Iraq War Logs reveal an estimated 15,000 additional civilian deaths.  A 2006 study estimated that around 600,000 Iraqis had been killed by the Iraq War.  Whatever the numbers, it is clear that a huge number of Iraqis did not survive Bush.  Further, Margaret Griffis uses the US military's own data to show that 4,486 American troops have died in the Iraq War.  Those soldiers did not survive Bush either.

While the Bush administration's greatest killing spree was in Iraq, people from other countries also died as a result of his policies.  Before the Iraq War, the Bush administration began a war in Afghanistan, a war that still rages today.  As a result, many Afghans did not survive Bush.  And the deaths that can be attributed to Bush policies did not simply occur in war zones.  While the Bush administration's torture program at Guantanamo was often discussed, it was rarely mentioned that at least 100 detainees died from US torture techniques.  These detainees did not survive Bush.

And just like many people throughout the world did not survive Bush, many others have not survived or will not survive Barack Obama.  It is known that President Obama has a secretive kill list.  Those on this list will not survive Obama.  The drone program directed by Obama shows virtually no concern for civilian casualties.  Obama's drones bomb funerals and rescuers.  Thus, many funeral goers and rescuers will not survive Obama.  In Yemen, the administration used cluster bombs, which many countries have agreed never to use, in a strike that killed 35 women and children.  Those women and children did not survive Obama.  The Obama administration has also redefined the word "militant", such that any adult male killed by a US bomb is assumed to be a "militant."  These supposed "militants" will not survive Obama.  Obama has presided over bombings in six countries: Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  The victims of those bombings will not survive Obama.  Furthermore, Obama has escalated the war in Afghanistan, resulting in increased US casualties.  Many Americans and Afghans will not survive Obama.

Obama's policies, like Bush's, kill through more than simply war.  For example, while the 2010 Haitian earthquake led to a moratorium on deportations to Haiti, the Obama administration resumed deporting Haitians in August of 2011.   At this point, the earthquake-ravaged country faced a cholera epidemic.  The situation was even worse in the crowded prisons and camps where deportees were sent.  Vincent Warren of the Center for Constitutional Rights wrote at the time that "as the U.S. government knows, deportations to Haiti amount to a death sentence for deportees." It appears some Haitians may not survive Obama.

Obama administration policies may soon also cost lives by decreasing access to medicine in the developing world.  It was recently revealed that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an international trade agreement currently being negotiated by the Obama administration, would substantially expand the power of pharmaceutical patent monopolies.  This would create artificial scarcity, driving up medical costs, particularly in the developing world.   Peter Maybarduk of Public Citizen wrote that with these provisions "the Obama administration has again increased demands on developing countries to trade away access to medicines."  Judit Rius Sanjuan of Doctors Without Borders' Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines explained that  "Policies that restrict competition thwart our ability to improve the lives of millions with affordable, lifesaving treatments."  Fundamentally, the Trans-Pacific Partnership threatens to deny people in the developing world access to lifesaving medication.  If it passes with the current intellectual property provisions, sick people will probably die for a policy that inflates pharmaceutical industry profits.  These patients will not survive Obama.

While this post has focused on the Obama and Bush administrations, it should be understood that deadly policies are by no means unique to these two presidents.  Under Andrew Jackson, thousands of Native Americans died on the Trail of Tears.  Under Bill Clinton, UNICEF estimates that sanctions on Iraq killed around 500,000 children.  LBJ, Kennedy, and Nixon waged an unjustifiable war in Vietnam.  Reagan financed the murderous Contras in Nicaragua.  Woodrow Wilson sent the country into the bloody conflict of World War I, and jailed those who opposed that war.  Throughout US history, presidents and their policies have left gruesome trails of bodies.  When will we demand an end to these deaths?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An Open Letter to Stefan Molyneux and Other Anti-Feminists

Stefan Molyneux’s recent video, a defense of his statement that “feminism is socialism with panties” (from which he takes his title) is not so much an enlightening philosophical speech as an ill-informed rant. The title of the video is intellectually dishonest, dismissing generations of women and men struggling for equality as panty-wearing socialists. The title panders to vulgar misogynists and is insulting to all women, feminists or not, and to anyone else who believes in equality between the sexes. The ideas expressed in this video and other videos of his that discuss feminism in a negative way are not only inaccurate but also dangerous, negatively influencing society’s perception of what feminism really is.

Because Molyneux’s anti-feminist views are unfortunately shared by many libertarian men and some libertarian women, we think it is important to take a stand and point out what is wrong and misguided about these views. Each one of the individuals signing this document has seen libertarian and conservative men attacking feminism without knowing what it means; men who have read nothing more than a few newspapers articles or anti-feminist rants by others and have no idea of feminism’s rich and varied history. Their views, founded on little more than opinion, are merely knee-jerk “politically incorrect” responses that lack critical thinking and thoughtful analysis.

Anti-feminist libertarian and conservative comments abound on Facebook and other social media. These include the usual clichés such as “man-hater,” and “feminazis” as well as such claims as, for example, “feminists are so trapped in their victimhood thinking that they see potential male oppressors everywhere and blame everything that is wrong with their lives on ‘sexism’ and ‘patriarchy.’” Men who are supportive of feminist concerns are attacked as “little wussy boys” and “worse” than the feminists themselves. One man even called the Association of Libertarian Feminists an “oxymoron.” These childish and uninformed remarks by anti-feminist men not only show how little they know about feminism, but how little regard they have for women and women’s rights.

Some anti-feminists even call feminism “collectivist” because it is a movement. This is a strange misuse of the term. They confuse “collective action” with “collectivism.” The former simply means individuals working together for a common purpose, as for example, libertarianism or abolitionism. The philosophy of “collectivism” says that group goals are more important than individual goals. But the raison d'etre of feminism is to achieve equal individual rights for every woman; to allow individual women to pursue their lives as they see fit rather than submit to cultural stereotypes.

Feminism is, by common definition, “the belief that women and men are equal and should be equally valued as human beings and have equal rights.” From a libertarian point of view, this stance should not be in the least controversial since libertarians also believe in equal rights for all. Indeed, given this definition of feminism, all libertarians, if they are consistent, should also be feminists. This definition is the essence of feminism to which every stripe of feminist from Marxist to libertarian, from radical to liberal, will agree. What feminists differ upon is how to achieve this goal of equality and equal rights. But the anti-feminist libertarians, knowing little about the wide range of views within feminism, selectively choose those feminist views they find abhorrent and attack those views as if they represented all of feminism. Yet when liberals do the same to libertarians, misrepresenting a few of the most uncompassionate as representative of the whole, these same anti-feminist libertarians howl. This is an inconsistent, hypocritical, and unfair treatment of both of these rich and vibrant intellectual traditions.

Molyneux is only the latest in a long line of these uncritical anti-feminists. We use his videos as a starting point for analysis only because he is currently one of the most visible anti-feminist libertarians. Like other anti-feminists, he fails to actually define feminism before he attacks. He simply implies that the ones he selectively chooses to talk about constitute feminism. Though Molyneux admits it isn’t accurate to say that all feminists are socialists, he still defends his statement that “feminism is socialism with panties” and continues to talk as if all feminists are indeed socialists. This is more than an offensive accusation unsupported by sound reasoning; it represents the kind of sexist thinking feminism tries to combat. By using this sleight-of-hand, he continues to encourage his listeners to systematically categorize all "feminist" concerns as pitiful socialist garbage to be derided and dismissed.

In representing feminism as a primarily socialist-dominated movement, Molyneux ignores feminists of any other political ideology, including a long history of individualist feminists. His definition of socialism is as unclear as his definition of feminism; he uses the term interchangeably with “Marxism” without qualifying exactly what kind of socialists he is accusing feminists of being. What is clear is his belief that socialists of any kind are unappealing and deserving of ridicule.

Molyneux also uses the term “gender” incorrectly. He talks about the “two genders” but “gender” is not interchangeable with “sex.” Social scientists generally define “gender” in terms of psychological factors, i.e., societal views of gender, one’s self-perception, etc.  In fact there is a whole range of non-binary gender perceptions; including “transgender” people  who do not fit into the standard “male” and “female” categories. Even the term “sex,” which refers to anatomical distinctions, is more complex than simply “male” and “female” because some people are “intersex” with physiological elements of both female and male reproductive characteristics.  These people may call themselves “male” or “female” for convenience but many do not feel comfortable doing so.

There is a belief among such anti-feminists that feminism is inherently sexist because it emphasizes women. This is like saying that those who oppose discrimination against people of color are racists. Such anti-feminist thinking then assumes that women must desire preferential treatment. This is a typical claim made by anti-feminist men in articles and posts in social media, couched under the misdirecting plea, “but we’re all individuals.” It is similar to the claim that LGBTQ folks want preferential treatment simply because they want the same marriage rights as anyone else. Yet it is important to note that it is not women who have created the gender rights gap; it is a culture and society that has long seen women as secondary to men. Both culture and the government have been the biggest challenges feminists have faced in seeking equality. Government, reflecting the historical cultural prejudices against women, has enforced laws (opinions backed with guns, as Molyneux muses) against women since the beginning of the United States. Feminists, in working for equality, are therefore not working to support the state but rather desire to change it in order to eliminate the need for feminism. However, if libertarians categorically reject every attempt to challenge the presence of privilege in our culture, we should not be too shocked when feminists believe that the force of law is required to create a more humane and bearable space in which to exist.

Contrary to what the anti-feminists such as Molyneux claim, feminists have in fact played a major role in some of the most significant triumphs for individual liberty against state and private aggression in the last two centuries. In the 19th century, they were in the forefront of major movements for individual freedom, including abolitionism, suffrage for women, individual conscience in regard to religion and sexual activity, and the protection of minority rights. Every woman today who has a college education, owns property, or votes can thank these feminists. In the 20th century, feminists were in the forefront of not only the vote for women and the civil rights movement, but also in the fight against discriminatory laws that kept women from having credit in their own name, police policies that treat victims of rape and domestic abuse as responsible for their own victimization, actions and laws that harm people whose identities, sexual preferences, and orientations do not match the mainstream, and let us not forget reproductive freedom!

The radical feminist activists that Molyneux and other anti-feminists so unthinkingly sneer at have almost always been primarily concerned with challenging and resisting patriarchal laws—abortion laws, rather famously—and with building non-state grassroots institutions (e.g., consciousness raising groups, battered women's shelters, rape crisis centers, underground abortion networks, women's self-help clinics, and an array of critical “awareness”/anti-sexist cultural campaigns and groups), a number of which, especially the medically-focused efforts, were in fact constantly targeted by the regulatory state for criminalization and destruction.

In his “feminists are socialists in panties” video, Molyneux states that feminists are state-serving “creatures” and “Frankensteins,” whose primary agenda is receiving preferential treatment from the government and society, an erroneous and insulting view. He commits the error that Frédéric Bastiat defines as the core error of socialists, by “confusing the distinction between government and society.” He misrepresents the feminist stance as categorically anti-family and requiring state intervention to fulfill. No matter that many feminists have actually long discussed how to apply their feminist views to marriage and family, with the intent to raise children in a non-stereotypical way that affords them the richest opportunities as adults. Their aim is not to raise children through the state as Plato asserted, but typically to raise them healthfully in an individual family with two parents. Only a handful of feminists have actually seriously talked about dismantling the family, primarily during the Second Wave, contrary to what anti-feminists like Molyneux claim.

Molyneux portrays feminists as ruthless women, quick to cut each other down and unwilling to support successful women who deviate from the underlying socialist ideology of feminism. He claims that this is why feminists never discuss Ayn Rand or Margaret Thatcher, who he sees as “neo-conservatives” that are “anti-government” and therefore can be dismissed. In actuality, Rand, is not a neo-conservative; her importance for women has even led to a scholarly book, Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, published by a prestigious and well-known university press. In his rant against “ruthless” feminists, Molyneux even implies that because they did not rally to the cause of Bachmann’s candidacy that this is further proof of their cutthroat ideology. He thus implies that women should unconditionally support and praise each other despite differences in political views, even when the women themselves hold anti-feminist positions. The fact that Molyneux himself does nothing of the sort—he frequently attacks Ron Paul, a man, for example—is apparently beside the point. But unbeknownst to Molyneux, many feminists did in fact defend Bachmann, Clinton, and Palin from charges that veered from political disagreement to overt sexist dismissal.

In his video “The Life and Death of Radical Feminism,” Molyneux propounds the belligerently conservative argument that women taking on paid jobs won’t spend enough time with their children and thus will harm their development. This argument is fallacious on several grounds. First, it mysteriously leaves out one parent from the equation—the father. In fact, social science research shows that fathers have considerable impact on their children and that more interaction with their children is desirable. Second, there is a copious social science literature showing that children are not harmed when the mother works outside the home. A more important factor is whether the mother is satisfied with her situation, whether working outside the home or within. Third, it denies individual autonomy to women, chastising them for wanting to have a life or career outside the home and asserting that they should sacrifice their aspirations in order to allegedly achieve anti-authoritarian kids. Once again, this bears no resemblance to actual psychological research findings. The factors that have the most impact on authoritarian or anti-authoritarian views in children are warmth and non-punitive childrearing methods that teach empathy, not whether or not the mother stays at home. To blame moms for everything bad that happens to the children is yet another example of not only sexism but outright misogyny.

Molyneux, like many conservatives, seems to think that the 1950s was a golden age for families. The idea that the 1950s nuclear family was a model for liberated childhood or somehow ushered in the social movements of the 1960s is simply bizarre. Spanking, the abusive disciplinary action that Molyneux abhors, was far more prevalent in the 50s than it is now. In the 1950s, the spanking rate was 99%; the rate has been going down ever since. Isn’t this a curiously contradictory view? Furthermore, in the books and research about the student movements of the 60s, the main correlation between activism and parenting was having a parent who was also a political or social activist, not having a traditional nuclear family.

Anti-feminists have no idea what feminists really want. Feminists are not women who want to be treated as men. Feminists are people who want to be treated as people, people who should not be discriminated against. Feminism isn’t socialism. Feminism is actually more about individualism and the desire to be evaluated based on one’s merit’s and not on one’s sex or gender.

Yes, there are feminists who are socialists. There are also feminists who are anarchists and feminists who are libertarians and feminists who really have no political ideology but know that they deserve to be treated equally to men. There are feminists who wear panties and feminists who wear boxers because not all feminists have an underwear preference and not all feminists are women.

The majority of Molyneux’s arguments against feminism as well as his accusation that “feminism is socialism with panties” are grounded in flawed and misogynistic rhetoric as are the arguments of other anti-feminists. In reality, feminism attracts a diverse group of people just as any other idea or philosophy does. To attempt to diminish the impact of feminism and redefine it as an objectionable philosophy is repugnant. The statement itself is inherently sexist and is the kind of thinking that feminism—true feminism—works to change.

This is a collective rejoinder written and agreed upon by the following signers

Ankur Chawla
Amanda Davis
Christine-Marie L. Dixon
Nathan Goodman
Charles H. Johnson
Ross Kenyon
Matt Mortellaro
Nicholas O’Connell
James Peron
Sharon Presley

Also joining us:
Brad Spangler
Andrei Pemberton
Jeffrey Young
Thomas J. Webb
Kyle Bush
George H. Smith
Thomas L. Knapp
Keith Taylor
John L Robinson
Michael Scandirito
James Tuttle
Neil Ball
Megan Arnold
Adam Reed
Tom Ender
Alisa Clanin
Andrew Taranto
Erin Miller
Mike J. Gogulski
Robert Steel
Dan Bier
Nick Ford
Grant Babcock
Jason Lee Bynas
Lindsey A. Jacobs
Leah Farrow
Alex Strekal
Benjamin Nichols
Kaitlyn Emerick
Roman Pearah
Rocco Fama
Art Smith
Judy Purrington
Jim Davidson
Jason Bessey
Neha Sinha
Luke Clayborn Hopper
Vincent Patsy
Luca Gattoni-Celli
Natasha Shebeko
Julia Riber Pitt
D. Frank Robinson
Jad Davis
Moriah N. Costa
Nick Saorsa
Matt Zwolinski
Don Pomeroy
Halina Reed
Isa Rizal Bufano
Lucy Betageek Hanouille
Josh Latimer
Jason Phillips Love
Teresa Warmke
Currer Bell
Jon Anselmo
Joan Mitchell
Alejandro Oquendo
Kevin Carson
Corey Moore
Edgar Aroutiounian
Tyler Johnson
Alexander Habighorst
Stewart Thorpe
Alice Raizel
Ruth Gilburt
Thomas Gramstad
Nate West
Joseph Rasch
Sorcha NiBhuaigh
Steve Horwitz
Mike Moceri
Carol B. Low
Irena Schneider
Harold Gray
Carl Agoric Codling
Zachary Caceres
John Sabin Adkins
Janet Neilson
Bob Wammy
Shawn P. Wilbur
Jordan Jetson
Scott LeGear
H. Raymond Solberger
Jim Minardi
Juan Garibay
Jack Artagan Mackenna
Lee Avedon
Jackie Bradbury
Adam Marketanarchopacifist Berkowicz
Adam Cicco
Tim Starr
Rob Tarzwell
David McGraw
Jake Smith
Victor A. Reyes
Punk Johnny Cash
Vicki Moore
Ben Arzate
Fred Curtis Moulton, Jr.
Matthew Brenycz
Lex Alexander
Chris Bradshaw
Nancy Quinn Dale
Katherine Gallagher
Pedro Eidt
Zak Slayback

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Prison Industrial Complex vs. the Queer and Trans Community

Jane Marquardt is a major figure in Utah's LGBTQ community.  In 2010 she and her partner Tami jointly received Equality Utah's Allies for Equality Award.  Jane now sits on the advisory council for Equality Utah.  Yet in addition to their work within the LGBTQ community, the Marquardts profit off of mass incarceration.   You see, Jane Marquardt is the Board Vice Chair for Management and Training Corporation, and served as a director and legal counsel for the company between 1980 and 1999. Management and Training Corporation is the third largest private prison profiteering company in the United States.   In addition to incarcerating convicted criminals, MTC receives federal contracts to operate immigration detention centers.  In order to guarantee continued profit off of those contracts, MTC has pushed anti-immigrant legislation by backing Arizona's Russell Pearce, the sponsor of the infamous SB 1070.

In profiting off of incarceration and backing anti-immigrant politicians, Marquardt puts herself not only on the wrong side of immigration and criminal justice, but also on the wrong side of human rights abuses against the LGBTQ community.  Discrimination against the queer and trans community puts us at higher risk of being locked away in prisons and immigration detention centers.  And once queer and trans people are locked up, they face a litany of human rights abuses.

Criminalizing Our Communities

Some communities are more likely to have their members incarcerated than others.  The racial and class biases that plague our criminal justice system and our immigration enforcement system are well documented and will not be discussed much here.   Instead, I want to discuss the policies which criminalize the queer and trans communities, making us more likely to be housed in prisons and detention centers, including those operated by the Management and Training Corporation.

The first major factor that marginalizes and criminalizes members of our community is homelessness. According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, "Of the estimated 1.6 million homeless American youth, between 20 and 40 percent identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT)." The task force also reports that "26 percent of gay teens who came out to their parents/guardians were told they must leave home; LGBT youth also leave home due to physical, sexual and emotional abuse."  In addition to being more likely to participate in criminalized activities like drug use and sex work, homeless LGBTQ youth face the many criminal sanctions which explicitly target the homeless.  According to a 2009 report by The National Coalition for the Homeless:
Even though most cities do not provide enough affordable housing, shelter space, and food to meet the need, many cities use the criminal justice system to punish people living on the street for doing things that they need to do to survive.  Such measures often prohibit activities such as sleeping/camping, eating, sitting, and/or begging in public spaces and include criminal penalties for violation of these laws.  Some cities have even enacted food sharing restrictions that punish groups and individuals for serving homeless people.  Many of these measures appear to have the purpose of moving homeless people out of sight, or even out of a given city.
This criminalization of homelessness is not limited to cities conventionally seen as conservative.  To the contrary, the same 2009 report ranked both liberal Berkeley and the famously queer friendly San Francisco among their "10 Meanest Cities" for criminalizing homelessness.  These criminal sanctions put queer and trans homeless youth at increased risk of eventual incarceration.

Beyond the specific issue of youth homelessness, a variety of factors contribute to structural poverty for certain segments of the LGBTQ community.  Queer and transgender people face discrimination in housing and employment.  Furthermore, many face educational barriers, due to harassment and bullying in school, or even an inability for transgender people to apply to schools due to discrepancies in their IDs.  This graphic from the Sylvia Rivera Law Project is useful for explaining the interlocking discrimination that can trap many people in poverty, particularly as it applies to the trans community.

Once one is trapped in poverty, one is exposed to profiling and disproportionate police presence in poor communities.  One is also more likely to be subject to the criminal laws which target the homeless.  Furthermore, members of the transgender community can face criminal charges simply for living in accordance with their gender identity.   For example, they can be arrested for using the "wrong" bathroom, due to suspicious discrepancies in their ID, and even on trumped up charges of solicitation.  This flow chart from the Sylvia Rivera Law Project explains the phenomenon well.

The combination of employment discrimination and criminalization particularly impacts queer and trans immigrants.  In America's labyrinthine legal immigration system, finding skilled employment is one of the few paths to legal immigration status.  When that is closed off by discrimination, one is far more likely to be an undocumented immigrant.  This difficulty is compounded by the structural poverty and criminalization already discussed here, as once an undocumented immigrant is picked up by police, they are likely to be sent to a detention center and eventually deported.

In addition to the risk factors detailed here, evidence from the juvenile justice system demonstrates that once arrested, LGBTQ youth are more likely to be placed in pre-trial detention.  According to an article in The Nation:
The road to incarceration begins in pretrial detention, before the youth even meets a judge. Laws and professional standards state that it's appropriate to detain a child before trial only if she might run away or harm someone. Yet for queer youth, these standards are frequently ignored. According to UC Santa Cruz researcher Dr. Angela Irvine, LGBT youth are two times more likely than straight youth to land in a prison cell before adjudication for nonviolent offenses like truancy, running away and prostitution. According to Ilona Picou, executive director of Juvenile Regional Services, Inc., in Louisiana, 50 percent of the gay youth picked up for nonviolent offenses in Louisiana in 2009 were sent to jail to await trial, while less than 10 percent of straight kids were. "Once a child is detained, the judge assumes there's a reason you can't go home," says Dr. Marty Beyer, a juvenile justice specialist. "A kid coming into court wearing handcuffs and shackles versus a kid coming in with his parents—it makes a very different impression."
This initial bias makes it clear that queer and trans youth are disproportionately locked up in this country, even before they are given a trial.

The Brutality Within (Trigger warning for rape, misgendering, and bigoted violence)

To explain the brutal human rights violations faced by queer and trans inmates and immigration detainees, I will begin with the story of Tanya Guzman-Martinez.   Guzman-Martinez, a transgender woman, faced a horrific litany of abuses, including sexual assault, while she was held in Arizona's Eloy Detention Center, an immigration detention center run by the prison profiteers at Corrections Corporation of America.  In a classic case of the misgendering systematic in our prison system, Guzman-Martinez was housed with male inmates despite the fact that she had "surgically altered her breasts, buttocks, hips, and legs to appear more feminine."  According to a lawsuit filed recently by the ACLU,  she was harassed and assaulted by inmates and guards many times at the detention center.   Both inmates and guards regularly called her "dog," "faggot," and "boy."  One guard told inmates that in exchange for "three soup packets" they could "have" Guzman-Martinez, an obvious encouragement of rape.  Allegedly she was also "often inappropriately patted down," in other words groped, by male guards.

As if this frequent sexual harassment from guards and inmates were not enough, Guzman-Martinez faced two instances of violent sexual assault while she was detained at Eloy.  In one case a fellow inmate pushed her up against a wall, groped her, and threatened to have her beaten and raped if she reported the incident.  The other was perpetrated by Justin Manford, a guard at the CCA detention center.  According to the ACLU complaint:
Manford maliciously forced Ms. Guzman-Martinez to watch him masturbate into a white styrofoam cup and then demanded that she ingest his ejaculated semen. Failures by Defendants CCA, DeRosa and Manford to adequately screen and monitor Manford, and to prevent situations where a male officer such as Manford is alone with a transgender woman detainee and out of sight of others, enabled this horrific assault on Ms. Guzman-Martinez.
The assault followed a history of frequent inappropriate behavior and inquiries by Manford about Ms. Guzman-Martinez, including questions about her sexuality, whether she had a boyfriend, and whether other inmates had seen her breasts.
During the commission of the assault, Manford made offensive gestures, faces, and comments towards Ms. Guzman-Martinez and threatened that he could have her locked up in “the hole,” lengthen her detention or have her deported to Mexico if she did not follow his demands.
While Guzman-Martinez reported Manford and he was convicted of "attempted unlawful sexual contact", justice certainly was not done.  Manford was only sentenced to two days, time served.

Sexual assaults like these are not isolated incidents for queer and trans inmates and detainees.  A 2007 study  found that “[s]exual assault is 13 times more prevalent among transgender inmates, with 59 percent reporting being sexually assaulted.”  This same study found that 67% of inmates who identified as LGBTQ reported being sexually assaulted while incarcerated, a rate 15 times more prevalent than that of the general inmate population.  According to a fact sheet from Just Detention International, "LGBTQ inmates are frequently labeled as ‘queens,’ ‘punks,’ or ‘bitches’ for the duration of their detention,  permanently marking them as targets."   After being assaulted, queer and trans inmates then face bigoted victim blaming.  As the JDI fact sheet explains, "Corrections staff tend to confuse homosexuality and transgender status with consent to rape, and trivialize the problem. LGBTQ inmates frequently describe officials ignoring or even laughing at reports of sexual violence. To make matters worse, LGBTQ inmates who report abuse are often subjected to further attacks, humiliating strip searches, and punitive segregation."

Beyond mere heterosexism and cissexism on the part of guards and inmates, policies such as misgendering systematically abuse queer and trans inmates.   As the Just Detention fact sheet explains:
The homophobic culture of corrections is compounded by policies that do not take into account the specific concerns of LGBTQ prisoners. For example, transgender women are typically housed with men, in accordance with their birth gender, and are required to shower and submit to strip searches in front of male officers and inmates. In addition, gay and transgender inmates often seek protective custody because of their heightened risk for abuse, only to be placed in solitary confinement, locked in a cell for 23 hours a day, and losing access to programming and other services.
Thus, official policies in the prison system subject queer and transgender inmates to serious psychological discomfort, while heightening their already severe risk of sexual abuse.

In addition to violence, harassment, and sexual assault, queer and trans inmates are often denied access to appropriate medical care.  According to Masen Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center, “Prisons have a legal duty to provide adequate health care, but LGBT people in prisons often face extra barriers to accessing basic and necessary medical treatment.”  One example of this is denying transgender inmates access to hormone treatment, even if they were using such hormones prior to incarceration.  In Wisconsin, the ACLU had to file a lawsuit to overturn a law that banned medical treatment for transgender prisoners.   Another example concerns HIV positive inmates.   A 2010 report from Human Rights Watch details the systematic discrimination faced by HIV positive prisoners in South Carolina.

Abuse of queer and trans inmates is not limited to adult prisons and detention centers.   A report for The Nation titled 'I Was Scared to Sleep': LGBT Youth Face Violence Behind Bars vividly describes incidents of violence and harassment that LGBTQ youth have faced in America's juvenile justice system.  From beatings to victim blaming to bigoted slurs from guards, queer and transgender youth are regularly abused in juvenile corrections facilities.  They are faced with human rights violations as brutal as those faced by their adult counterparts.

Deportation as a Death Sentence

For companies like Corrections Corporation of America, GeoGroup, and Management and Training Corporation, the money comes from keeping people locked up.  But when you're operating an immigration detention center, the end result for many detainees is inevitably deportation.  In order to secure more detainees, all three of these corporations have financially backed anti-immigrant legislation, and such legislation almost certainly means an increase not just in rates of detention, but in rates of deportation.

So what sorts of consequences can deportation have for queer and transgender immigrants?  In some cases, it can mean that they will be deported to countries where they are very likely to be persecuted, perhaps even killed, for who they are.  For example, Tanya Guzman-Martinez, whose ordeal in a CCA detention facility we already discussed, applied for and received asylum on grounds that she would be persecuted in Mexico for being transgender.   When HIV positive immigrants are deported, it can be a death sentence if they are sent to a country without access to necessary medication.  A 2009 Human Rights Watch report, Returned to Risk, discusses deportation of HIV positive migrants in detail.

What kind of ally profits from this?

This essay is mostly intended to educate people about the ways prisons, immigration detention centers, and the deportation process oppress the queer and transgender community, not to attack Jane Marquardt.  However, it's well worth asking:  What kind of ally to the LGBTQ community profits off of these sorts of human rights violations?  Jane Marquardt is a respected and influential member of Utah's LGBTQ community, but if she profits off of a system that oppresses us, how good of an ally is she?  While I have not yet found specific details regarding how her company, Management and Training Corporation, handles sexual assault against queer and trans inmates, there are multiple documented cases of sexual assault and illegal strip searches in their facilities.  Furthermore, regardless of how MTC handles their own facilities, they have pushed for laws that increase rates of immigration detention and deportation.  In doing so, they have backed the caging, rape, harassment, abuse, and possibly even wrongful death of queer and trans immigrants.

This also raises a question for the LGBTQ movement more generally.  Where will our focus as activists be?   Are we going to solely focus on easy issues like gay marriage and Don't Ask Don't Tell, or will we confront the caging of queer and trans people, as well as the subsequent harassment, rape, assault, and deportation they face?  This question decides whether we will be allies merely to privileged queers or to all queers.