December 21, 2009
Look, nearly on-time update! We'll see how the rest of the week goes.
A bit of more serious business now. In early December, science fiction writer and Canadian citizen Peter Watts was returning to Canada after helping a friend move when his car was stopped and searched by US custom agents. He got out of the car to ask them why. For that, he was beaten, pepper-sprayed, held for over twenty-four hours, stripped of all his possessions, and finally sent back across the Canadian border on foot and in his shirtsleeves.
This is vastly upsetting to me. For one thing, I know Peter -- not well, but I've bumped into him at a number of cons as well as being a fan of his books. He is a sweet, funny, and frighteningly smart guy. For another -- I've never witnessed an incident of this magnitude, but I've crossed the border a number of times and seen the hassling that goes on. It isn't about security. It isn't even about reasonable doubt. It's about picking out the person who looks most harmless and then bullying them within an inch of their lives, because you can, because there's no oversight, because someone's given you, a power-hungry little shit, a bit of rope and you're going to beat the crap out of everyone with it.
Peter Watts is looking at two years in a US jail for assaulting US officials, one of those handy catch-all terms that in this case means 'asked questions'. He'll be mounting a legal defense. You can see his side of the story on his blog, and there's a Paypal button on this page that people have been using to send donations towards the legal costs (put 'legal costs' in the comments.) You can also send a check in his name to Bakka-Phoenix Books, which may be more convenient if you're Canadian.
Sorry for the rant, guys. This is one of those things that really steams me, because it so easily could have *been* me. And I hate feeling ashamed to be American.