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Category Archives: Things Worth Fighting For

Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey, and Why Women Repeatedly Put up With Abusive Relationships

Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie adaptation of E. L. James’ erotica, came out this past weekend, spurring millions of dollars in revenues and lots of reviews. I’ve always been vocal about my dislike of Fifty Shades of Grey and its predecessor, The Twilight Saga, which glorifies abusive relationships and aren’t appropriate for adults, let alone the younger girls that Twilight is aimed at as it’s target audience. James, who originally wrote Fifty Shades of Grey as Twilight fan fiction, took author Stephenie Meyer’s twisted Edward and Bella relationship and turned it into an even worse kind of relationship between Christian and Ana. For me, Fifty Shades of Grey and The Twilight Saga isn’t merely just fiction. It’s personal.

I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood. I went to a middle school that was predominantly black. I’m Asian. It wasn’t easy to fit in. From a young age, I was taught that people of the same color usually tended to stick with one another: all the white kids, all the black kids, all the Hispanic kids, and yes, all us Asian kids as well. By middle school, there was more of us so that was great. I didn’t feel so bad then, but before that, it was hell trying to be nice to kids to have friends, to not be alone, and to not feel alone. I spent most of my childhood trying to please other people, which translated into an automatic mechanism that triggers in my relationships later on in my life. The thought process behind that mechanism is pretty much along the lines of, “if I can do this or that for someone, or prove myself valuable and worthy of them, then I won’t have to be alone”. As we can all see now, it’s a really messed up way of thinking, but we all still do it to a degree. We give in to peer pressure and do things we would’ve never done before. We tolerate the subtleties of abuse hidden behind promises and empty words from others that were meant to be nothing but a form of control over us.

It took me a long time to break out of that habit, the habit of letting others do whatever they wanted with me and to me just as long as they’re happy and okay. I’m still not as mean as I’d like to be, but I can now tell people to go screw themselves when I do catch the mind games and realize all the power plays for control of me. It’s all very subtle. Or it can be blatantly in your face like something I read today with a woman who is trying to appease a friend who was upset at her for apparently no reason. While she didn’t understand the friend’s anger, she still wanted the friend to be happy and she still wanted the best for that person, even when they basically told her the equivalent of, “fuck off“.

I’m not a stranger to those words. I used to cry about it. I used to be confused and not understand why someone was being so mean when all I wanted was to make them happy. It all stems back to my childhood and wanting friends which led to low self esteem and an overwhelming dependency on other people’s thoughts of me to validate my self worth. Reading what that woman wrote made me feel bad. I used to feel like that. I used to be the one who would try to make someone smile and think the world of them, even when all they wanted was candy I had or some other material thing. I wanted to say something to her, to that woman. I wanted to tell her the reason why it didn’t matter that her friend was upset, but why it did matter that she move on and not let such people control her emotions nor her life anymore.

It’s almost always about a boy.

Bella sees Edward and immediately starts obsessing about him. It’s not even that he’s into her, it’s that she created an ideal of him in her head simply based on how gorgeous he was. And in her ideal of him, he is actually a big, soft, cuddly teddy bear that wants love just as much as she does.

This is where all of us fail at relationships before there even could be any sort of relationship. We create versions of people in our minds that are suited to us, that are suited to our needs. Unfortunately, love is an incredible need that every person experiences. Love isn’t sex. And sex isn’t love. But because of love, many, many people will suffer abusive relationships all because of the ideal of someone they have clung on to inside their minds.The truth could be rather vocal like the woman and her friend. Instead of taking what was said and what happened for what it was, she held on to the hope that somehow, her love could change them and their behavior towards her. How I greatly wanted to shake her and tell her to snap out of her defeating daydream of someone else and what she hoped they were. It was much different from who they really were.

In Blood Lust, book two of the Turning Vampire Series, Marisa suffers a very controlling and physically abusive relationship at the hands of Alessander. Because he physically beats her, people reading that book can see that it’s domestic violence in its purest form: physical abuse. However, many people don’t realize that abuse isn’t only when someone is black and blue and almost dead from being beaten by their spouse/lover/friend/family member/etc. Abuse is any form of control of another. That could be as simple as convincing someone that they shouldn’t hang around a friend who has never done any harm or as complicated as manipulating someone like how Alessander manipulated Marisa.

One of my friends reading Blood Lust was greatly disgusted by Alessander and Marisa’s relationship. Although Marisa did learn how to stand up for herself and how to stop Alessander from hurting her, she went through all the steps that someone in an abusive relationship goes through. One of those main things is believing all the lies told by the other person. It’s odd how people are drawn to others who say no to them. Edward made it clear that he didn’t want Bella, and yet, she stalks him like a puppy, hoping he’d recant that whole episode where he ran off to get away from her and instead, declare his undying love for her. Christian made it clear to Ana that she was merely a play thing to him, a toy he wanted to use when he wanted and she had no influence in his life at all. He was influencing hers. However, despite all the signs of no, she still believed that deep down inside, he was a tortured soul who needed someone like her who could put up with his punishments and make him happy in the hopes that one day in some far off future, he’d confess his love for her. Alessander is a lot different from Edward and Christian. Instead of pushing Marisa away like how Edward did to Bella and Christian did to Ana, Alessander manipulated Marisa into thinking she wasn’t worth anything to anyone and that no one wanted her. Alessander was everything of the classic typical abuser in a romantic relationship that most people think of when they think of domestic abuse. They think of violence, of fights, of being put down and torn down. They think of male egos and arrogance. Alessander presented only one of the many multifaceted faces of abuse. Edward and Christian presented two more. All three were abusive. Edward creepily watched over Bella while she was asleep and kept tabs on her while she was awake. He listened in on other people’s thoughts to spy on her. Christian downright controlled Ana with his demands and the risk of “losing” whatever semi-resemblance of a relationship they had together. Alessander totally took it over board, but sadly, it’s not very far from the truth of how reality is for many people. Many people will never do what Marisa did. The concept of self preservation, self worth, self anything seems foreign to them.

It all starts in our heads.

As much as everyone wants to blame the more aggressive person in an abusive relationship, abuse actually starts with the person who allows themselves to be hurt. I’m not talking about the people who wake up one day to a black eye and don’t know how their relationship got that way. There’s that too and it’s wrong. I’m talking about us and how we have these expectational ideas of others. The woman believed her friend was simply having a bad day. Although she couldn’t understand why the friend was angry at her since she only strives to make the other person happy, it is well understood that whatever sort of relationship she has with that friend is largely one sided. I can’t really blame her for thinking the best or wanting to think the best about others, but the excuses that she makes for the friend’s behavior is something I’m familiar with. There’s a part of all of us that can see things as how they truly are. We will see bad friends as bad people. Yet, a different part of us holds on to these unrealistic ideas that our bad friend is somehow a good person and just going through a rough time. I was stuck in that circle for a while. I knew exactly what kind of friend my friend could be because I’ve watched her spend time with others, do things for others, be kind to others, share with others, and then, she spends a total of a few minutes saying hi to me and that’s it. She talks longer if she’s hungry and wants me to cook her food. Yet, knowing that she was a bad friend to me, I kept hoping that if I was nice back, she’d eventually act like a real friend. She never did and I had to finally accept that some people are great friends to others, but really bad friends to us. And even then, I still cried about it, because I knew she was a good person at heart. And that’s exactly the dilemma that this woman was having: her friend was a decently good person with a good heart and they were good friends with others, but the two of them didn’t get along well. Yet, knowing this, she still held on to that false hope that maybe that friend will change and treat her better as I thought my friend would surely see my worth and treat me better too. She didn’t.

We often are afraid to lose people for imagined potentials at what kind of relationship we could have with someone in the future.

I remember a girl from my childhood who hated me, but I wanted to be her friend so badly, that I was super nice to her all of the time. To describe our relationship, it was like Cole off of the movie, The Sixth Sense, and the bully Tommy who pretended to be friends with him in front of his mom. This girl pretended to be my friend in front of her mom. We’d get to school and she’d ditch me for all of her other friends. Her mom thought we were best friends. I thought we were best friends too. I didn’t understand that we weren’t until I was much older. That was a bad relationship. We didn’t physically fight. We didn’t hurt each other. But there was still a lot of misleading things and manipulations and abuse. In the end, we weren’t friends anymore and her mom came to my house and gave me back all the stuff I gave her daughter. The sad thing is, I had nothing to give to the woman as something her daughter gave me out of friendship. Back then, I also wasn’t brave enough to tell her mom what really happened. I still cared too much about what anyone thought of me.

Peer pressure is a huge thing for children. Being liked, making friends, feeling lonely…all of that affects everyone at some stage in their life. We can do without all the books that glorify abuse in relationships and tell us that we need someone else’s approval to be worth something. We’ve already told ourselves that enough as children. We hope for a, “I’m proud of you” from our parents and teachers. We hope for inclusion from our friends. And now we have popular books that tell us that independence is a lie and we need someone else to be complete.

The message in today’s world is that we cannot be strong without someone being weak. That’s the wrong message to send out to anyone, anywhere. I saw a meme today where some out of the closet atheist woman said, “I am happy that men wrote the Bible. That means that women didn’t.”

My reply was: “That’s sexist and quite frankly, a foolish thing to say. It took a man in order to birth that woman. It’s cool for men and women to be treated equally, but all this superiority bs simply needs to stop. She could’ve simply said she was an atheist instead of trying to belittle men to make her self worth as a woman greater. It shows that she has no self worth and that’s sad.

The opening poster said: “Oh BooHoo! You missed the point.”

In which I replied, “So I should acknowledge other people’s stupidity for a supposed point? No thanks. If someone’s going to make a stand for what they believe in, there’s no need to bash anyone else to make you or your religion or whatever you believe in as being better. She will die like the rest of us. Every human being will have the same ending: death, and there’s no escape from that.

So the OP responds with, “Freedom from religion certainly angers some folks, eh?

And the last thing I replied on that topic said, “It’s not about religion. It’s about people. Did I care that she was speaking against the Bible and that she’s atheist? Nope. Don’t twist my words into something you want it to be to better suit your own religious agendas. It’s not your freedom from religion that angers me. It’s my freedom of religion that angers you. That’s sad.

It’s really tiring when a lot of my pagan/atheist/non-christian friends talk about Christianity more than I do, and yet, they want to claim that Christians are the ones shoving our religion in their faces. I can’t tell whether they’re trying to convince everyone not to be a Christian by constantly talking about it, or that they’re trying to convince their selves of how they shouldn’t be a Christian by talking about Christianity all the time. Either way, let it go. It’s obsessive behavior and abusive to yourself. It’s not your freedom from religion that angers me. It’s my freedom of religion that angers you. And that is sad.

It’s late. I’m calling it a night. Stop the abuse and the acceptance of abuse in relationships.

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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Book Reviews, Diary, Movies, Things Worth Fighting For

 

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How People Who Want to Exaggerate How Torturous Prison is is Keeping Jan Marcusse Behind Bars

What pisses me off is all this cry wolf stories about how prisons are specifically discriminating against the LBGT community, which isn’t even true, is that everyone will believe it and not focus on the real questions we should be asking like why prisons are instituted in the first place, and why so many people go to prison or have extremely lengthy sentences, and why completely innocent people are behind bars today. The only people who actually might enjoy prison, would be people from the LBGT community. So many women running around with their girlfriends and so much drama because of their girlfriends. And so many women to be a girlfriend.

Anyone who knows me will know that I don’t give a damn about people’s sexual preferences. It only becomes my business when it’s constantly being flaunted in my face. And all these misleading lies about how prisons are specifically discriminating against the LBGT community and goes out of their way to torture individuals based on their sexual preference is utter falsehood. It’s people like that who try their best to lie about the truth so they can come out the hero who keeps innocent people like Janet Marcusse still locked up behind bars.

Gloria-Goodwin Killian is an advocate of women behind bars. Unlike some other self-called advocates that I know, Gloria actually does help women who are incarcerated. Gloria herself was released from prison after serving 16 years out of the 32-to life sentence that she was given for a crime that she didn’t commit. Her site, the Action Committee For Women in Prison advocates for the humane, compassionate treatment of all women behind bars. ( https://acwip.wordpress.com/who-we-are/ )

Now, this was supposed to be my happy day of playing Sims 4, but instead, I get to deal with ignorant people like below. Since it’s a post shared publicly on Facebook, it will be shared publicly here on my blog as well. It’s not the first time and it will surely not be the last time I have to deal with people of that nature.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204277942082369 )


This is what it feels like to be in prison

Like · · Stop Notifications · Share · Yesterday

  • 20 people like this.
  • Laura Ramirez Makes me cry even more for my daughter! When will this nightmare end?

     

  • Xao Thao That’s unrealistic. You paint a picture of prison that looks like a horrible tragedy to get sympathy from others. It’s the same as people painting pictures of prisons as some wonderful rehabilitation place to get continued support for it when it’s not that either. It just is.
  • Gigi Gonzalez wow, when was this picture taken and in what country?
  • Vita Lusty Xao, fuck you.
  • Gigi Gonzalez @ Vita Lusty, I wanted to say that but I don’t think she meant what we first read. Anyway, I feel your pain.
  • Vita Lusty HAHA. It sounds like she is attacking Gloria for using a picture that portrays how she feels. If I misunderstood, I will delete the comment.
  • Xao Thao I wasn’t attacking anyone unlike the hostility Vita showed. I’m saying that it’s not realistic to portray anything in exaggeration no matter what your personal opinions of it is. It’s ignorant people who attack others. For a lack of knowledge is corruption multiplying.
  • Vita Lusty Yeah yeah, speaking with emotion and vigor is seen as ignorant. I heard that on a rape thread earlier this week when men couldn’t believe rape statistics. Emotion binds us. Gloria has every right to use a photo that depicts her feelings. Art serves that purpose.
  • Xao Thao Art serves many purposes. People can be passionate about something and advocate and fight for what they believe is right and that’s a wonderful thing. You’re defensive because you feel like I was attacking Gloria and her use of art to portray her emotions. Perhaps you have a lot of emotions about prison. If you actually read what I said, I didn’t attack anyone. Neither was I telling Gloria not to express herself. And neither have I said that Speaking with vigor and emotion is ignorance. I made a statement about the over exaggeration of subjects and topics that lead to wide misunderstandings of those subjects and topics. I said that it’s ignorant people who attack others. No matter what your defensive is, I don’t care about it because you don’t know me. Neither should you take personal offense to what I say because I don’t know you. You bring up rape as if you want me to feel sympathetic for the statistics that men do indeed get raped as well. I don’t let my emotions or what I feel make hasty decisions that I might regret later. A good balance between passion and understanding helps us to think for ourselves and not be led by other factors or other people who can too easily influence our lives.
  • Vita Lusty Sure. That is diplomatic. Sure men get raped too, of course including everyone on all issues tends to stall movement. It is like saying white people get shot too. Statistics in both cases identify a huge difference of numbers. It is better that we look at each case with a critical eye, not just a diplomatic one. As for the rest of it, I have strong feelings about prison and very strong feelings about voices stifled by opinion and criticism.
  • Xao Thao Im glad you’re out spoken. It’s good to have people fighting for those who can’t, and especially those who can’t fight because they’re stuck in the system. The world doesn’t need people attacking each other. What it needs is people who can stick together no matter what those bonds are that holds them. Diplomacy is needed for many things including being heard and taken seriously for your cause. I was given a letter once by an inmate who wanted me to publish a story in which every other word consists of the word “fuck”. Although I understood their great emotions for what was was going on and where they were at and the injustice they felt, derogatory use of language simply makes them seem uneducated and not serious to others. There was no media source that was going to print a story like that. And the same with people. It’s diplomacy that makes you sound serious to others, even if inside, you want to scream out a blazing trail of obscenities.
  • Vita Lusty There is a time and place for both. I cherish many other writers who use obscenities. Power words. Claiming “fuck” comes from uneducated mouths is outdated. Every other word … Well, yeah. That won’t read well. Either way, I am just protecting Gloria and her voice. She has been through hell. She deserves all the time to speak she wants or needs.
  • Xao Thao I’m certainly not stopping her. More people should speak, but more importantly, more people should speak truthfully. I’ve seen too many make up lies in order to gain sympathy for their ordeals. Prison is bad, but it’s not as torturous as most makes it seem. There are real issues that get lost in the midst of other people wanting their fifteen minutes of fame. I’d like for the real issues to be heard.
  • Xao Thao Derogatory language in the sense that it’s used every other word does make someone seem uneducated. I didn’t claim that only uneducated people curse. Neither did I claim that cursing makes one uneducated. Don’t read in between the lines because there’s nothing to to be read there. I’m pretty straight forward with what I say.
  • Vita Lusty I am not reading between the lines, you just seem wishy washy.
  • Xao Thao And you try to put words in my mouth that aren’t there. No harm done. I know what I said because I can say it again.
  • Vita Lusty It isn’t my intention to hijack this thread and talking around issues without ever really addressing them is a bore. Nothing comes out of it but an image you seek to maintain about yourself. Safe. Democratic. Inoffensive. And with no real point at all.
  • Xao Thao I apologize for hijacking this thread to explain. I don’t care about my image. You misunderstood my comment and I explained it. You misunderstood a lot more so I explained that too. I made more valid points than your “fuck you” ever did. Now you know. Our conversation can stop here because anything else you don’t understand, you can say so in IM if you really want to know.
  • Vita Lusty I don’t. Thanks.

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 8, 2014 in Janet Marcusse, Things Worth Fighting For

 

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Why Innocent People Like Janet Marcusse is Still Incarcerated After a Decade of Fighting for Her Freedom

Janet Marcusse is 58 years old and has spent the past decade fighting for her freedom behind federal prison walls after being falsely incarcerated, slandered, and sentenced to 25 years behind bars for a crime she didn’t commit.

Federal Prosecutors initially charged her with a “Ponzi scheme” in 2004, then switched their allegations when they were caught lying about the $7.5 million in investments to honest services fraud in which corrupt federal judge Robert Holmes Bell changed the jury instructions to advise that the government didn’t need to prove the defendants obtained any money or property or that anyone lost any money or property, basically uprooting the government’s burden to actually substantiate any evidence of the alleged crime.

After the jury voted “guilty” on the new charge, prosecutors resurrected their old, abandoned “Ponzi scheme” charge for sentencing and appeal, now lying that it was the jury who determined the Ponzi scheme to be a “fact” when the jury voted according to federal judge Bell’s jury changed instructions. Jan was given a 25-year sentence based on losses caused by others, making it an illegal sentence.

While the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted permission for Jan to file a pro se brief on her own behalf, Judges William Bertelsman, Jeffrey Sutton, and John Rogers ignored it in their 2008 decision in order to agree with prosecutors the jury found a “Ponzi scheme”. When Jan challenged the decision, the panel attested her issues had been “fully considered”, causing her “convictions” to be made “final”. When Jan challenged the panel in a petition for recall of the mandate for attorney and judicial fraud, they admitted they had “declined” to consider her issues, but refused to do anything about it.

In March, 2011, in response to Jan’s collateral attack petition under §2255, Judge Bell reversed course and held “a ‘Ponzi scheme’ was not an element of any charges brought”. Judge Bell has also refused to allow Jan’s innocence claim to even be filed, as based on the previously unavailable evidence obtained from the Dept. of Justice proving IRS Agent James Flink committed perjury over at least $9 million at trial, and as based on a new Supreme Court decision repudiating the charge as amended in the jury instructions to honest services fraud.

On June 17, 2011, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Michael Schipper as a judge for his part in successfully prosecuting this case, describing it as a “Ponzi scheme”.

On January 9, 2013, the evidence was obtained in FOIA litigation to prove a criminal fraudulent scheme was concocted at trial in which prosecutors, IRS agents, Judge Bell and defense counsel all colluded in the deliberate spoliation of Jan’s bank record evidence. They allowed her access to original bank record documents and even provided copies, except then objected to the use of these copies as defense evidence at trial as not in the bulk bank record exhibits by having removed the original documents and replaced them with the records supplied from the banks under subpoena.

The original bank records had been stolen from Jan by co-defendants Wesley and Diane Boss to conceal the evidence of their embezzlement of $1.5 million and given to the IRS. During the trial, however, prosecutors stacked the bulk bank record exhibits in boxes in front of the jury box, but first removed the original documents from them, leaving only the similar content documents provided under subpoena by the banks in the exhibits–documents to which Jan was not allowed access–a scheme which they believed allowed them to object every time Jan wanted to submit any of her copies as defense evidence as not from the bulk exhibits, acting as if she must have fabricated her evidence. This constitutes criminal activity in violation of 18 USC §§ 2,3, 2071 and 26 USC § 7214.

More information on Janet Marcusse can be found here: http://www.ipiw.com

It’s because of reasons like this MSNBC article that Janet cannot get out of prison. The media only cares about things like Kim Kardashian’s butt or someone bashing a gay person. Everyone wants to jump in and help defend false freedoms of people’s lifestyles, why not defend something or someone worth defending? Obviously, many people’s lifestyles aren’t going to be accepted.

No offense to the entire LGBT community, but unless there’s ANY truth in the lies that were told in this article by the only non-transgender female quoted, then there’s no point in the advocacy of a more wicked society in which both the government and its people are corrupted. Those who have been at Tallahassee long enough to know how it works there will know that the very last sentence in this article is the biggest lie of all. There is no “ghetto” in Tallahassee and Tallahassee was where she spent the rest of her sentence until she was released months ago.

What aggravates me is that narcissistic arrogant selfish people can get the media to believe in their lies, but I can’t get one news station, even fake news, to write an article on Jan’s false incarceration with the mountain of evidence from court documents and tax court wins and transcripts and actual facts. But one day, she will be free. No thanks to all the people who try so hard to keep her there.

Here is the article link and the actual full article below. And if anyone is interested, below all this is my email reply to the ignorant reporter who wrote this article.

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/lgbt-prisoners-abuse

***

Does the LGBT movement ignore inmates?
11/14/14 09:49 PM By Emma Margolin-emma.margolin@nbcuni.com

More than 20 years have passed since the Supreme Court ruled in Farmer v. Brennan that prisoners could hold prison officials accountable for “deliberate indifference” to their safety. The landmark decision, issued on June 6, 1994, affirmed a constitutional responsibility on the part of custodial officials to protect those in their custody.

Today, however, LGBT inmates – particularly transgender women of color – experience harassment, discrimination, and violence while incarcerated, as well as alarming rates of being sucked into the criminal justice system. Prisoners’ rights advocates claim that the mainstream LGBT movement, now riding high on an unprecedented streak of victories in recent years, has largely ignored this set of concerns.

On Friday, the Columbia Center for Gender and Sexuality Law held a conference to discuss the legacy of Farmer, the movement to end abuse in detention centers, and the state of health care for LGBT prisoners, among other issues. If there were any positive takeaways to draw from the event, the best that could be said – as one audience member put it – was simply that “it could be worse.”

The negatives, however, were far more resounding.

“We have LGBT people now that’s hurting, hurting now and no action is taking place,” said Troy Isaac, a former juvenile hall and state prison inmate who now works with the group Just Detention International. At 12 years-old, Isaac was raped for being “effeminate” in the shower area of a California juvenile facility. “Staff members never listened to me,” he said.

Thirty-nine percent of gay male inmates said they’d been assaulted by other prisoners in a 2008 Department of Justice report. To compare, 3.5% of heterosexual male prisoners reported being sexually victimized by other inmates.

The statistics grow more grim when talking about transgender prisoners. Sexual assault is 13 times more prevalent among transgender inmates, a 2007 survey of California correctional facilities found, with 59% of transgender respondents reporting instances of sexual assault in detention. By comparison, 4.4% of the general inmate population reported experiencing sexual assault while in a California correctional facility.

Dee Farmer

In 1989, three years into her 20-year federal sentence for credit card fraud, Dee Farmer, a transgender woman, was transferred to a maximum-security penitentiary. Despite dressing as a woman, undergoing estrogen treatments, and having silicone breast implants, Farmer was held in custody in all-male prisons. Days after being transferred to USP-Terre Haute in Indiana, Farmer was raped at knife-point by another prisoner. She then filed a quixotic lawsuit without legal counsel against the Bureau of Prisons director, regional director, and other officials, alleging that they knew she would be sexually assaulted at USP-Terre Haute due to her feminine appearance.

After losing at both the federal district and appellate levels, Farmer successfully petitioned the Supreme Court for review.

“I really, really didn’t think I had a chance of getting approved,” said Farmer, who is currently incarcerated in a West Virginia federal prison, during a November interview with Just Detention International and the ACLU. In 1994, the Supreme Court agreed to hear .5% of cases filed by indigent plaintiffs, according to the human rights groups.

The high court ended up handing down a unanimous victory for Farmer stating that prison officials had a duty under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, to protect prisoners from harm at the hands of other prisoners. In law, “deliberate indifference” occurs when a professional knows of and disregards an excessive risk to an inmate’s health or safety.

“There have been some inmates I met in my journey who have come up and gave me a hug,” said Farmer in the phone interview that organizers played at the beginning of Friday’s conference. However, she said, “the struggle for transgenderism is still very much alive and very much in need.”

For starters, transgender individuals, especially non-white women, find themselves wrapped up in the criminal justice system at disproportionate rates. In the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 47% of black transgender respondents said they had been incarcerated “for any reason,” compared to 8.9% of the general black population.

That result is due in large part to factors that put LGBT individuals at risk of being arrested before they even reach adulthood. Data shows LGBT youth are overrepresented in the nation’s homeless population, having left home in many cases because their families didn’t accept them. Once on the street, they’re exposed to myriad dangers, including violence, sex work, and incarceration.

CeCe McDonald

Such was the experience of transgender folk hero CeCe McDonald, who, after surviving homelessness, prostitution, and one near fatal transphobic attack, served 28 months behind bars for second-degree manslaughter, a charge to which she pleaded guilty. At 23 years-old in 2011, McDonald stabbed and killed a man after he and his friends verbally and physically assaulted her.

“I ended up defending myself,” McDonald recalled on Friday, her normally ebullient voice raspy with a cold. “Of course the system did not allow me to flourish in a way where I could successfully go through the trial and actually win.”

Faced with up to 40 years for second-degree murder, McDonald pleaded guilty to a lesser charge that carried a 41-month sentence in a state men’s prison. Though the only LGBT person in her prison pod, McDonald said she was far more concerned about what the prison staff would do to her. “The reality is that staff and people who work there are more than likely to attack you,” said McDonald. “Knowing that put me on a different level of paranoia when I was in prison.”

In an attempt to hold prison officials accountable to their duties under Farmer, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003. From that law grew a set of standards designed to eliminate sexual abuse in prison. But critics denounce the PREA regulations as far too soft on prison officials who assault inmates. “PREA is a joke,” exclaimed Evie Litwok, president of Ex-Offender Nation, during Friday’s conference. “These men could never get laid in the free world to the extent that they’re getting laid in prison,” she said of male staffers working in female jails.

Prisoners’ rights advocates have called for greater transparency within jail facilities – in particular, more cameras. They’ve also implored members of the mainstream LGBT equality movement to strengthen their connection with inmates, through advocacy or, more simply, through writing letters. They stress, however, that the only way to truly reduce the rate of prisoner abuse is to reduce the rate of mass incarceration.

“It’s hard to figure out how to work with people who have caused an enormous amount of harm, but we’re already living with them,” said the Rev. Jason Lydon, founding director of the group Black and Pink. “The rate of homicides being solved are low … Domestic violence goes on and on without police being involved. We’re already living with people causing enormous amount of harm, and prisons aren’t fixing that.”

Short of rape, there are a number of other ways in which inmates face abuse. Litwok, 63, has served a total of 20 months in federal prison for tax evasion. When she first arrived in 2009, she immediately came out as a lesbian – a move she believes subjected her to “harassment, torture, and sadism.”

Inmate.com got the word around immediately,” said Litwok to msnbc during a lunch break. “It’s like old-school telephone. That’s how we get our news.”

Within two weeks of her prison stay, the manager of Litwok’s quiet orientation unit accused her of groping other women.

“I got angry immediately because I hadn’t been involved with anybody for over ten years because of my case,” said Litwok. “I told her I wanted to see the women who accused me of that now.”

No such women were presented. Instead, Litwok was transferred to a different unit known as “The Ghetto,” the loudest most unpleasant area.

“In front of ‘The Ghetto,’ there are 20 beds for punishment called ‘The Bus Stop,” said Litwok. “You sleep under 24-hour, seven-day-a-week florescent lights that don’t go off, and you sleep next to an ice machine that crushes ice every 20 minutes. On either side of you are the bathrooms, which 150 women use … It may not be waterboarding, but it’s torture.”

Litwok stayed there for the rest of her sentence.

***

Dear Emma,

I understand your advocacy for the LGBT movement and equality for that community, but your article on LGBT inmates is largely incorrect. Do you not research as a reporter to uncover the truth instead of simply believing someone who told you something?

It all sounds very much like the criminal justice system, where hearsay can incarcerate an individual with no evidence and no substantial proof of any kind for years and a decade more for conspiracy of which the person doesn’t even know they’re committing conspiracy. The true conspiracy is the lies that the government’s witnesses have told, and in this case, perhaps your faulty sources. It’s sad that people are so blinded with ridiculous notions that it’s them against the world and that anyone who isn’t like them is against them, therein the cause of corruption and evil in this world that many will suffer for the selfishness of others.

Why not then do an actual article on how many people are incarcerated innocently? There are far greater numbers of people incarcerated that should never have been there in the first place, the majority of which are still behind bars today. And no one speaks for them because in today’s society of Hollywood and self-made reality tv stars, it’s more important to discuss whether someone’s butt is too big or whether spikes should be erected under bridges and highways to deter the homeless.

That last one aggravates me because, where does someone who has a place to sleep at night with a warm bed, a comfy blanket, and a nice home ever think of where a homeless person would go if not under bridges and along park benches when the shelters are too full. It would’ve been a better use of government resources to erect more shelters to help the homeless instead of harm them by erecting spikes so that they have nowhere to lay their head. And much like the homeless, falsely incarcerated people exist and will not simply go away if we turn the other eye and pretend not to notice.

There are innocent people in prison fighting to get out and not even the media or any reporters who still seek actual truth will listen, not even with the overwhelming evidence of corrupted federal judges, prosecutors, and civil court wins would help set someone free. Yet, everyone wants to hop on the gravy train of fighting for false freedoms in a bound and slave system worse than any third world country in the world, and no one wants to touch base on the corruption of the people who are here to serve and protect us, the very same ones who throw us behind lock and key to fatten their paychecks and please their own conceited egos of how many they can throw into America’s slave labor system.

If I was in the position to be a reporter, I’d at least fight for something worth fighting for: ivory poaching which kills and drives rhinos and elephants towards extinction, rhinos particularly; deforestation which is humanity destroying itself slowly; and people who can’t speak for themselves because the world is so corrupt that unless we’re just like them, there’s no chance for us who don’t belong to live in it.

But this is the modern age, isn’t it? And the age of technology and computers. Everyone has a Facebook and a Twitter and YouTube and followers. Perhaps one day, no thanks to all the ones who try so hard in hiding up the truth and their own wickedness, will there be a real freedom for everyone, and not simply because everyone wants to throw in their own perspective lifestyle or decisions, but a real freedom with a transparent government who is for the people instead of for themselves while riding on the backs of the people.

Have a good night.

Sincerely,
Xao Thao

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 21, 2014 in Janet Marcusse, Things Worth Fighting For

 

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