Just this week I was interviewed by the lovely Tracey Lindeman of the online arts and culture magazine Cult Montreal. We chatted about the recent Montreal book launch of Against Equality: Prisons Will Not Protect You, an anthology I edited for the Against Equality collective, as well as the politics of the book more generally.
Below is a taste of the interview where we dive into the queer and trans critiques of Hate Crime Law (HCL), the prison industrial complex, and the crucial demand to find better solutions to addressing anti-queer and anti-trans violence than the ever expanding and for-profit run prison system.
TL: How did it come to be that HCL began causing more harm than good?
RC: I don't know if one can argue that HCL ever did more good than harm from the beginning. That is not to say the intention behind them wasn't out of genuine concern for queer and trans people, or that anti-queer and anti-trans violence isn't real. What we are demanding here are better solutions to deal with violence and harm that doesn't rely on expanding the reach and surveillance power of the increasingly for-profit-run prison industrial complex. Prisons don't solve problems; they compound them, and as our book shows through a number of case studies, like those of the New Jersey Four and the Texas Four, prisons haven't worked very well for queer, trans and gender nonconforming people.
TL: What are some of the better solutions, then?
RC: This is exactly the question we want people to be asking. HCL distracts us from asking this question and from creating these better solutions collectively. There is no one right way, nor should AE (Against Equality) be dictating the ways different and diverse communities address violence and harm, but the restorative justice models that a handful of groups like Critical Resistance and Generation FIVE have been working on seem the most promising. Restorative justice, in principle, is an approach to addressing harm that focuses on the needs of the victims and the offenders, as well as the involved community, instead of focusing on abstract legal statutes predicated on punishment and revenge.
for the full interview, continue at CultMTL...