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December 11th, 2009

Not So Proud of My Country Right Now

I just found out about the abusive treatment that SF author Peter Watts received at the hands of US Homeland Security earlier this week:

Hugo-award-nominated science fiction author Dr. Peter Watts is in serious legal trouble after he was beaten, pepper-sprayed and imprisoned by American border guards at a Canada U.S. border crossing December 8. This is a call to friends, fans and colleagues to help.

Peter, a Canadian citizen, was on his way back to Canada after helping a friend move house to Nebraska over the weekend. He was stopped at the border crossing at Port Huron, Michigan by U.S. border police for a search of his rental vehicle. When Peter got out of the car and questioned the nature of the search, the gang of border guards subjected him to a beating, restrained him and pepper sprayed him. At the end of it, local police laid a felony charge of assault against a federal officer against Peter. On Wednesday, he posted bond and walked across the border to Canada in shirtsleeves (he was released by Port Huron officials with his car and possessions locked in impound, into a winter storm that evening). He's home safe. For now. But he has to go back to Michigan to face the charge brought against him.

The charge is spurious. But it's also very serious. It could mean two years in prison in the United States, and a ban on travel in that country for the rest of Peter's life. Peter is mounting a vigorous defense, but it's going to be expensive - he's effectively going up against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and he needs the best legal help that he can get.

There's much more on this from Making Light, John Scalzi and Peter Watts's own blog.

This sort of shit just should not happen anywhere -- but especially not in my country. Our collective ideals and aspirations as a people are better than this, and this incident manages to anger, sadden and terrify me all at the same time. We shouldn't have goons engaging in this sort of thuggery in the name of protecting my country. They are not protecting it; they are engaging in terrorism, and we as a people should not tolerate it. Please consider helping to offset what are bound to be some considerable legal cost by sending a donation to him at donate@rifters.com.

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