Swarming across the Internets is news of Peter Watts’ recent horrifying experience of being beaten and arrested at the border between the U.S. and Canada.
From Peter’s own account of what happened:
If you buy into the Many Worlds Intepretation of quantum physics, there must be a parallel universe in which I crossed the US/Canada border without incident last Tuesday. In some other dimension, I was not waved over by a cluster of border guards who swarmed my car like army ants for no apparent reason; or perhaps they did, and I simply kept my eyes downcast and refrained from asking questions.
Along some other timeline, I did not get out of the car to ask what was going on. I did not repeat that question when refused an answer and told to get back into the vehicle. In that other timeline I was not punched in the face, pepper-sprayed, shit-kicked, handcuffed, thrown wet and half-naked into a holding cell for three fucking hours, thrown into an even colder jail cell overnight, arraigned, and charged with assaulting a federal officer, all without access to legal representation (although they did try to get me to waive my Miranda rights. Twice.). Nor was I finally dumped across the border in shirtsleeves: computer seized, flash drive confiscated, even my fucking paper notepad withheld until they could find someone among their number literate enough to distinguish between handwritten notes on story ideas and, I suppose, nefarious terrorist plots. I was not left without my jacket in the face of Ontario’s first winter storm, after all buses and intercity shuttles had shut down for the night.
In some other universe I am warm and content and not looking at spending two years in jail for the crime of having been punched in the face.
But that is not this universe.
If you ask me, Peter is handling this amazingly well. He was invited to participate in next week’s Mind Meld interview and emailed me this morning. He had this to say:
Sorry for not getting back to you before now. On the way back from helping a friend move to Nebraska, I got swarmed by US border guards, punched in the face, pepper-sprayed, and thrown in jail. Now, with epic irony, I’ve been charged with assaulting a federal officer, which has me looking at two years in jail (worst-case scenario), and/or ruinous legal defense fees followed by bankruptcy (best-case). The charge is bogus, but I still have to answer it; and at the moment, I’m also trying to get my personal effects out of impound (which is tough when you’re not allowed back into the country where your things are being held).
Bottom line, I won’t be able to answer Mind Meld this time around. But I bet you’ve never run into anyone with a better excuse.
Good excuse indeed.
Boing Boing has information on how you can contribute to Peter’s legal defense fund.
[via Boing Boing]