Because government is essentially force – a tool used by those who wield it to achieve their own (or their benefactors’) selfish goals – it is not the proper source of addressing what some people commonly refer to as social problems or social injustice. A good example of this can be found in the area of homelessness. While many well-meaning people are sensitive to the plight and quality of life of homeless people, they often fail to see how governments not only contribute to and perpetuate homelessness, but often stand in opposition to those attempting to help in any meaningful way.
Look, for example, at: wars that leave service members psychologically unstable, destroy their families, and render them unfit to restore any kind of “normal” life; overzealous, and often self-serving regulations that create barriers to entry in the marketplace; an education system geared more to creating obedient citizens than developing educated, independent people; and then attempting to “fix” these problems by the creation of government programs that serve to only further establish and perpetuate the victimization of the people hurt by these policies.
More than serving as just another example of government ineptitude, this subject also highlights a real challenge in communicating principles of libertarianism. Not because the principles are incompatible with effectively dealing with social issues, but because the issues are far more complex than we’re accustomed to believing, and because if we are only focusing on the emotional side of things, we inevitably fall into the trap of looking to the creators of the problem for the solution. This does nothing but guarantee that the problems continue, and become part of the way our society functions, making it increasingly difficult to break free. To solve the problems that face individuals, we need to harness the power that only individuals possess – compassion, imagination, ingenuity, ambition, self-preservation, and so on.
Sadly, governments aren’t the only ones to blame, making the complexity even worse. Sometimes, other institutions (family, religious, educational, and social) assist in the creation of social problems, including homelessness. When a young person is struggling with homosexuality, for example, that person may not be connected to safe and supporting sources of help and understanding. In fact, the natural places from which most people find their support may be the very ones driving them away. This helps to explain why some calculate the percentage of LGBT youth as being 40% of the homeless youth population. Unfortunately, when the more organic social structures fail these people, they often find themselves stuck battling another set of problems created by governments. Florida is home to several well-known examples of this scenario. From feeding bans in Orlando to “camping” bans in Pensacola, governments have proven themselves to be incapable of not only providing help, but of providing at the very least, equal protection under the law. Instead, those claiming power over others’ lives, all too often make things even more difficult for the suffering among us.
Jail Awaits Texas Woman for Protecting Her LGBT Student from Bullying
Sierra Wood, 16, Attacked for Advocating Marriage Equality at School
HALE CENTER, TX - A Texas woman is facing jail today after her sister was accosted for verbalizing support for gay marriage in class. Kayla McLaughlin, 27, says she was threatened with confinement in jail for refusing to force her traumatized sister to return to Hale Center High School.
The issue began when teacher Diane Ivy asked students for one wish they dreamed to see fulfilled. Sierra Wood, 16, an openly bisexual student, she said she wished for marriage equality around the world. The Health Education teacher delivered this stern rebuke before she kicked her out of class: “This is a boy-girl class, not a boy-boy or girl-girl class.”
As she exited the classroom, Sierra greeted a friend with the simple phrase, “Sup,” and was subsequently sent to the office for disrupting the class with “gang-related language.” She was given the choice: suspension or JJAP, a program for unruly teens. Sierra chose suspension.
Kayla, her sister and guardian, says Sierra was punished for seeking the school nurse after she returned from suspension, had her cell phone confiscated, and was a victim to name-calling, rumors, tripping, spitting, and projectile attacks. Sierra is now suffering mental anguish at no fault of her own, Kayla says, and will not be forced to return to class for her protection.
The dilemma is typical of coercive systems that rely on force to achieve social goals. First, she is compelled to attend. Then, she is disciplined for doing so. The conflict is impossible for a teen to resolve.
This is dehumanizing, abusive, and traumatizing behavior by adults who are charged with her care. No child should have the abuse of their peers legitimized by authority figures in their schools, nor should either students or their guardians face a threat of enforcement for the act of courage and honesty represented by Sierra Wood’s actions.
Outright Libertarians of Texas joins our national organization in calling for an immediate response by the public. We are asking for investigative journalists, talk radio hosts, human rights activists, and LGBT advocacy organizations to join with everyday people in bringing transparency and a merciful resolution to this situation, immediately.
Programming Note: Kayla and Sierrawill appear in a joint interview on the Outright Libertarians of Arizona podcast on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, at 8 p.m. MST. You can hear the full interview at: http://tinyurl.com/justice-for-sierra
This is one of the most awesome things I've seen in a while. We would do well to adopt some of this language into how we articulate our ideology as something truly liberatory for those suffering the most under state power.