Not the Best of Possible Worlds.

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.

Stay tuned.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Friday December 11 2009at 10:12 am , filed under Squidgate . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

464 Responses to “Not the Best of Possible Worlds.”

  1. Wow, that sucks. I’ve been avoiding the US for the last 6 years or so as they seem to have gone all authoritarian weird. I think I’ll be keeping clear for at least another 6 years. Please put up somewhere to donate money for legal defense, I’ll at least send as much as I saved by downloading blindsight…

  2. A fucking outrage.
    Hope that you’re recovering physically from your thumping.

  3. Insane, man…completely insane. If there’s anything we can do, please let us know.

  4. Aside from money (coming soon), I don’t know what I can do for you here, man. I wish more. Let’s hope in the end those sons of bitches get what’s coming to them, and you get what’s right.

  5. Holy fucking shit man! That’s absolutely insane! I hope this blows over without anymore incident.

  6. Outrageous, truly outrageous. I don’t know what to say.

    I wish you all the best, you deserve it.

  7. Was this picked up by any news media yet? I could not find anything on the web except blog entries.

  8. Sorry to hear about this. That’s no way for “professionals” to behave. Or, Americans, for that matter.

  9. I’ve seen this wild fucking nonsense at the border for years. I’ve never been treated as badly as that, though… I hate to say it, they have enormous power, these border guards.

    How in heck did you manage?

  10. What the fuck?!

    This shit had better end here. In fact, it had better go back a few steps and end before it occurred.

    Let us know what you need, man.

  11. Well people are getting the word out, and a lot of us are ready to support you if you need any help with legal fees, so don’t feel bad about asking for any!

    I sincerely hope you get through this without too much further incident. Hopefully the DA will throw out the charges. Do you think you were in view of a border camera when all this happened?

    PS – Were these Canadian or US guards?

  12. I hope you are recuperating well. I am horrified to hear of your ordeal. I was too wimpy to even walk two blocks to the grocery store on Wednesday, crossing the Bluewater Bridge half-dressed would have killed me. I am a Toronto fan and run SF conventions, and I hope there is something I can do to help with fundraising for your legal defense. I’ll be attending Confusion, Ad Astra, and SFCOntario. [I’m on the Contario committee. I’m certain we will be discussing this at our committee meeting, tomorrow afternoon.]

  13. Usually you have to be black to enjoy such indigniities. Peter, were you black that day? Tell me you weren’t black!

  14. Here via Making Light. Contribution has been sent to your kibble fund. I apologize on behalf of my nation, and all the U.S. citizens who pay these idiots’ salaries.

  15. “I [got] out of the car to ask what was going on. I repeat[ed] that question when refused an answer and told to get back into the vehicle.”

    So… why didn’t you just get back in your car? Could’ve avoided some extreme unpleasantness.

  16. My household is sending money. I am so fucking sorry. I am so ashamed of how far we’ve let the country go.

  17. This is utterly horrifying. I hope you are as well as can be expected under the circumstances.

  18. Remember to document/photograph any injuries you suffered.

    Very sorry to hear about this, and hoping for the best possible outcome for you if/when the case goes to trial.

  19. Wowza! I hope you heal up! Someone owes you a huge apology.

    Miranda rights? Sounds like Americans.

    I hope that you do NOT face time in prison for this. You’d think we’d learn something after the all the Iranian border incidents this year.

  20. I’m outraged, sickened and ashamed by this. I’ve sent a donation through the kibble fund as Cory suggested. Please let me know what I can do.

  21. @mattan, i dont think canada operate with miranda rights (altho thanks to US cultural exports, even norwegian criminals thinks thats how it works in norway).

    and to peter, while i am no lawyer, i suspect you should be careful about what you blog about this, as it would really surprise me if it do not get used in the court room (homeland security probably do not back down as easily as some phone company did in relation to some “celebrities” roaming charges)…

    yet another reason for me to not visit USA any time soon, on top of me writing of airtravel until they stop pushing security theater on domestic flights in other nations…

  22. Hi Peter,

    You need to run anything by a good lawyer before posting. The prosecutors will comb through ever syllable for the least ommision or contradiction with which to discredit your testimony and evidence.

    Yes it’s a sorry state of affairs but the odds are stacked against you.

    Best wishes and good luck.

  23. Seriously?

    *SERIOUSLY?!?*

    That’s fucking insane…

  24. I just read about what happened to you on BoingBoing and my only thought is that it’s all just flat-out fucked.

    It would seem that talking back to someone in a uniform is against the law these days, and worthy of imprisonment. That is some pure unadulterated horseshit and it’s a fucking shame that it’s what the law’s become.

    I’m so sorry that you had to go through all of that. I’m doing all I can to get the word out on Twitter and reddit, so hopefully it becomes a big enough issue to make a difference.

  25. Vile, just vile. You have my deepest sympathies. I hope this turns out as well as can be (well isn’t an option after this sort of attack).

  26. Sounds to me like you got out of line and earned your way into a holding cell. That will happen when you assault an officer of the law.

  27. Of course they were US guards, the Canadian ones are cuddly like teddybears.

    I say this as a US citizen. Our guards are jackbooted thugs.

  28. Money sent. Use for cats, guns or lawyers I’m not picky.

  29. That’s horrible. I will spread the word about this.

  30. […] Not the Best of Possible Words – Dr Peter Watts […]

  31. As an American, I immediately assumed it was the US guards. The folks in Canada don’t seem to have degraded to quite this level of thuggish idiocy yet.

    I wonder what they’re going to claim set them off, since they can hardly admit to just feeling like kicking the shit out of someone. They don’t even have the pitiful ass-covering of “driving while black” in this case.

    Just when I think it might be possible to have an inkling of pride in my country again, this sort of…of…incident pops up.

  32. Michigan/US border guards:

    http://www.boingboing.net/2009/12/11/dr-peter-watts-canad.html

  33. Just sent a donation of $100 to your paypal for your legal defense.

  34. It’s Lis, from last year’s Gibraltar Point. Sorry to hear about the awful shit you went through. That’s fucking horrible. I told Dave I’ll be contributing to the defense fund, and I twittered and FBed and boosted the signal where I could.

    Also remembering with great irony our convo last summer about my border crossing experiences. Sorry yours turned out so shitty. Hopefully everything will get sorted out.

  35. […] Watt’s own words: If you buy into the Many Worlds Intepretation of quantum physics, there must be a parallel […]

  36. Michiganders:

    Please contact your representatives if you want this behavior to stop:

    Sen. Carl Levin:

    http://levin.senate.gov/contact/

    Sen. Debbie Stabenow:

    http://stabenow.senate.gov/email.cfm

    Additionally, you can find your Representative by going here:

    http://www.house.gov/

    And entering your zip code. If you don’t know your four-digit zip code extension, you can find that here:

    http://zip4.usps.com/zip4/welcome.jsp

  37. […] at the US border returning to Canada earlier this week (Peter is Canadian). He’s commented on his own blog as well now, and other sf authors have picked up the […]

  38. @Mike O’Brien

    How do you know he assaulted an officer? That sounds like the last thing he would do. Sure it wasn’t smart to get out of the car, but it is absolutely not grounds for being beaten, pepper-sprayed, and arrested.

    There are numerous other incidents where police have been the aggressors yet the victim ended up getting charges of assault against him/her. Do you really think those guards are going to be so willing to admit they were wrong (assuming they were, which I am considering what I know of Mr. Watts)?

  39. Saw this blogged by several friends, donation sent

  40. The only good of this is that you’re an articulate being who can appear on radio, newspaper, and maybe before the US Congress to raise awareness of how far off the path the US has gone. I’m sorry this happened, but I am oddly grateful that it happened to you.

  41. That’s frankly horrible. Just sent a pitifully small donation to your paypal as it’s all I can. Wishing you a speedy recovery, both physically and legally.

  42. I am so fracking angry to hear about this. Expect money for your defense fund in the New Year.

  43. WTF? I read this on the FB updates of a couple of friends and felt like I’d drifted into an alternate reality. Wasn’t it just last summer at GP where we had the conversation about aggressive border guards?

  44. My goodness Peter. I heard about this on FB a bit more than one hour ago. Jonathan McCalmont posted the link to Boing Boing and I posted it on the BSFA , ASIMOV, and TTA sites. I also sent it to some fellow-fans who have blogs and websites. One to go. I’ll send some money. Good luck.
    Best, George (Berger)

  45. […] Watts’ direct account of the matter […]

  46. This is awful. I am hoping it gets picked up some where in the media. My brother has been thrown into jail for the exact same reason. Asking why he was being stopped. They didn’t beat him. I will make sure he knows how lucky he was.

  47. Here via BoingBoing and a friend’s LJ. Have donated to the kibble defence fund.

  48. I work in law enforcement and it appears that you disobeyed a lawful order to get back in your vehicle.

    Just what are you leaving out of your blog post, sirrah? Did you get in their face? Did you swing at them after they pushed you away or come right back?

    No REAL news agency will take an interest in this because it is a non-story. Sorry, Peter, but you screwed up, not them.

  49. Cash your way and more when my next paycheque clears. Fight this and win it, Peter. We’re rooting for you.

  50. I bet those border guards have no idea how quickly this is spreading on the net, and I bet if they knew before hand about how memes work, they would never have done anything.

    Twitter has people tweeting about this every few seconds, so it will definitely get some attention.

    Hopefully this will drive more people to read your books!

  51. Best of luck in fighting this. I will send money shortly, to help with your defense, and also (as I am a Michigander) contact my elected representatives. I have also posted about this on my blog, in order to help publicize what has happened.

  52. As someone said above, they have been “avoiding the US for the last 6 years or so as they seem to have gone all authoritarian weird” and I can only agree. It’s even scarier living here, honestly.

    If I had any money to spare, I would definitely donate; as it is I can give only my sympathies though I will definitely pass on the information as to your troubles in the hopes that other people I know will be able to help better than I can.

    While I agree with Will above that it’s a good thing you’re articulate and personable, it makes me wonder and worry about how many people this sort of thing has happened to who cannot speak to people all over the world and generate interest in their troubles. I’m fairly sure that your case will turn out well; I doubt, however, that it will make any change in the policies of this increasingly tyrannical country.

  53. Sweet merciful crap, this makes me want to vomit with rage.

    In spite of my anger, I can’t help but wonder if outraged platitudes are what you want to hear right now. Nevertheless, I hope that the message is clear; friends and fans of your writing care deeply about what’s happened to you. We’re here to support you in any way you need.

    I reiterate Lila’s apologizes on behalf of my nation’s behavior towards you.

    Ward makes a good point in that you should take care with anything more you post about this incident. Who know if it can be used against you. If that’s the case, just tell us.

    Your good friend, Cory Doctorow has posted your story on BB. You can bet that a fair portion of the three million plus people that look at that blog each day are going to do what they can to support your cause.

    If you’re ever in my neck of the woods again, I’m treating you to a bottomless pitcher of beer.

  54. I get so angry every time I hear of things like this. Don’t let them get away with it! How can anyone want to visit that country anymore?

  55. I’m a little confused about this. I don’t understand why American border guards would stop a car that is entering Canada. That is twhat the Canadian border guards are for. I would think that if they wanted to search his car it would fall under the same rules as a car search anywhere else in the country. Either they would need a warrant or probable cause.

  56. Narrow-minded people with dominance issues should not be allowed to police international borders, but they seem to be a popular choice.

    I’m so sorry they did this to you.

    Legal fund donation coming soon…

  57. Well, I’m very sorry to hear that. I cannot donate any money, but I hope everything will go smoothly and the charges will be dropped.

    @maarken:
    “Of course they were US guards, the Canadian ones are cuddly like teddybears”
    Well, not always they aren’t… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Dzieka%C5%84ski_Taser_incident

  58. Y’know, I think I must be vague about the definition of a “lawful order”, then, because I’m pretty sure not getting back into your vehicle when told does not equate to “assault on a federal officer”. And, y’know, I’m pretty sure that since you weren’t there and obviously don’t know Peter, you wouldn’t amount to fuck all on the witness stand in this case. And, y’know, if you work in law enforcement and think that a beatdown and arrest for not getting back into the car is justified, then I’m glad I don’t know you.

  59. […] […]

  60. America, this is the “peace” for which you just got given a Nobel? Seriously, WTF?

    You’ve got a donation coming your way, do with it what you will. I enjoy reading you too much to allow you to go missing for two years.

  61. I call that bullshit, but I’m sure you feel the same.

  62. I’ve crossed the border more than 100 times and I have NEVER been stopped by US guards while going from Michigan to Ontario. Highly unusual. There’s a lot more to this story. What’s up, Peter?

    By the way, the key to crossing the border: “Yes, sir. No, sir.” Simple as that.

  63. “Y’know” writes, “it appears that you disobeyed a lawful order to get back in your vehicle.”

    And this justifies “punched in the face, pepper-sprayed, shit-kicked, handcuffed, thrown wet and half-naked into a holding cell …” etc etc etc, how exactly?

  64. Y’know said …. “I work in law enforcement and it appears that you disobeyed a lawful order to get back in your vehicle…. Sorry, Peter, but you screwed up, not them.”

    That just proves that the law is wrong.

  65. I cant believe you people are sending money to a guy who claims to have had this happen to him! Are you all so gullible? If thats the case I was raped by some cops in downtown detroit and they arrested me. Please send money!

  66. Y’Know, that’s part of the problem right there.

    Even accepting, arguendo, the lawfulness of the order, the result doesn’t follow.

    Former Michigan Resident: The more to the story is the US has, for more than a decade, had semi-random (mostly in accord with badly designed, “profiles”) exit searches; one of the standard flags is a rental car; the idea being people don’t want to commit crimes in their own vehicle.

  67. […] Watts, author of Blindsight, reports on his blog that he has been assaulted by US Border Patrols agents and now faces felony charges and ruinous […]

  68. Call the Upper Canada Bar Association. Ask for their Pro Bono organisation. If you’re lucky, your case will interest them and you’ll get a lawyer for free.

  69. The case is not yet visible on PACER. When it is, I will use RECAP to get the documents on archive.org and post the link here.

  70. Wow… just… wow. Let me add to the chorus of those saying that I hope you get through incident this without further problems. In other words, here hoping this story just becomes the story of the worst day of your life and ends at that.

    Though, because I am incapable of simply being friendly and sympathetic as a general rule, I should point out that this post possibly qualifies as the one of your most successful pieces of self-promotion ever, given the comments and donations.

    *ducks*

  71. this is my worst nightmare. US customs/border patrol are the worst i’ve ever encountered, and that includes visits to highly conservative/religious countries such as Malaysia, and highly militarized countries such as Colombia. All the guards at international borders I’ve crossed have been polite and respectful, even if they were being cautious and thorough. Those traits are NOT mutually exclusive. I have never personally been assaulted by border guards, though I do feel like there is an excess of posturing and demeaning behaviour on the part of US border guards, and there are TOO MANY incidents like this for us to ignore the problem. Will be writing my member of parliament on your behalf.

    good luck.

  72. Hmmm… Sometimes people get sprayed and shackled because the officers are jerks and need to be prosecuted. If this is the case I will join the band wagon bringing money and exposure to the party.

    However it is my experience that in most cases, those finding themselves sprayed and shackled went out of their way to earn it. By your own words you disobeyed the orders of the border guards and instead repeatedly questioned them about what they were doing.

    I’m willing to guess that you have zero knowledge of officer safety and steps taken for your safety as well. It is also painfully obvious that you are unaware that anyone entering the country is subject to search. That is both a function of customs and security. (If you don’t think Canada does the same thing, try bringing a police radar detector north sometime.)

    As a member of the media I am working on obtaining copies of the arrest and jail reports. As the border crossings now have more recorded video cameras then the gaming floor on a casino, I’ll see if those videos are available as well.

    A while back I think there was an experiment at some of the southern border crossings where some officers wore wireless mics that are recorded along with the video. That would be really useful here. If that system was in use then there can be no question as to who said what.

    Last but not least, entering this country as a foreign national is a privilege, not a right. When you come here you might get singled out for the search either at random or because you exhibit one or more warning signs. (Big hint here, rental cars are a red flag.)

    If you want to come here, you may have to jump through the same hoops as anyone else does. That means you have to cooperate with those that hold the hoops while doing so.

    If that is going to be a problem for you in the future, I recommend you stay on the north side of the border.

    For now here is hoping that you didn’t have it coming. I have a lot of respect for Cory and it would trouble me deeply to see him and his friendship used to excuse someone that got spanked for behaving badly.

  73. Hey Peter,

    I’m very sorry to hear about this. It sounds very traumatic, but I hope you’re recovering alright. You seem pretty hardy, so I have faith. I hope for your sake something good comes from this, but I can’t help imagine that this happens more often than we like to think, only to people who don’t do anything about it.

    Re: This Seems to be the Problem/O’Brien – While I to some extent agree that I would’ve just gotten back in the car, it is absolutely ludicrous that we have to live in such abject fear of border guards. I would’ve gotten back in the car because I just ASSUME they’re all power-abusive jackasses that are just hoping for an excuse to show off how tough they are. It’s completely ridiculous that one must make that assumption, and when someone is hurt because they didn’t make that assumption, somehow the victim is to blame. I would’ve gotten back into the car because I’m a coward, not because it’s the “right” thing to do.

    Personally, I try not to travel to the states anymore, and I purposefully book flights that do not have stop-overs there, even if they take longer. While nothing has happened to me, the fact that if anything DOES occur I would have no rights and would be totally fucked is a pretty severe downside. All they have to say is “Terrorist” and it’s over. Goddamn terrifying. I think if something happened to me visiting most countries, I could count on my government for some support. But not so with the US…

    Best, best wishes Peter. Isn’t there some saying about suffering being necessary for art? Surely you have a few more books in you now. :)

  74. @ Skeptic

    We’ll be happy to send you money.

    First, earn a PH fucking D in a complex and challenging biological science.

    Then, write a spectacular science fiction trilogy and follow that up with a critically acclaimed, Hugo Award nominated novel.

    Afterwards, open yourself up to friends and fans alike, proving yourself on each meeting to be a kind, generous, witty and friendly fellow.

    After that, we’ll believe anything you tell us.

  75. I’m thinking you’ve left some key details out.

    I’m also thinking if you’d sat in your car and hummed some random showtune to yourself, you’d be bitchin’ about something other than this.

  76. […] raised by the incident and Emma Bull has a good rant. Peter’s version of the incident is here (though it may not stay there because if I was his lawyer I’d be advising him to say nothing […]

  77. Peter, so sorry you got caught up with the jackbooted thugs who purport to protect us. I’m doing my part to spread the word and a donation is on the way – guess I won’t be standing you a round in Boston any time soon.

    Hope you’re recovering well and don’t hold it against all Americans.

    @Y’Know – you’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Disobeying a lawful order does not warrant that kind of treatment. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this.

  78. @Mattan Ingram

    It’s pretty clear what happened. Read between the lines. Peter can play with words all he wants – he’s a professional – he can do that – but … we can read between the lines.

    We’re all wringing our hands here like he’s some sort of victim who didn’t play a role in what happened. I think it’s high time that some people grow up.

  79. […] Mały przykład tego, co może się stać przy przekraczaniu granicy z U.S.A. via […]

  80. Dittoing Terry’s point about rental cars. From my wife’s write-up about this: “See, the thing is, he’s a Canadian. He isn’t reflexively afraid of border guards. Will and I crossed into the U.S. in a rental car a couple years ago, and our car was searched; so was the rental car of the white-haired couple who shared the waiting cell with us. None of the four of us questioned our temporary captors, because we knew it would, at best, cause them to take our cars apart. At worst, it would result in what happened to Peter Watts. We talked to each other, though, as prisoners do, and learned we had rental cars in common.”

  81. Mike O’Brien wrote “We’re all wringing our hands here like he’s some sort of victim who didn’t play a role in what happened. I think it’s high time that some people grow up.”

    If growing up requires me to believe that what happened is normal or acceptable, I think I’ll pass.

  82. @alternate view:
    Is the United States of America a totalitarian state, where you have no rights and any attempt to talk to a government official is an offence?

  83. @ Media:

    I was actually trying to leave the US, not enter it. I was returning home (and in that context it’s normal to be accosted by Canadian officials, not American ones as happened here). If you do work in media, you might want to read your source material a bit carefully in future.

  84. I have to agree with a couple of other people here and say if you had stayed in your car, this never would have happened. (That might have been the parallel timeline).

    That’s not to say you should have been abused the way you say you were, but staying in the car likely means it doesn’t happen that way.

    I also hope that all the Canadians who are bashing the U.S. are enjoying themselves.

    And I hope Americans who use the word “jackbooted” find themselves in a situation where the police step in and save them.

  85. Help out Peter Watts…

    One of my favourite contemporaries, Canadian SF writer Peter Watts, has been arrested, beaten up and pepper-sprayed on the US-Canadian border on a return trip to Canada. He is now facing felony charges for “assault against a federal officer……

  86. […] http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=932 […]

  87. That’s some really over the top, outrageous behavior on their part for sure and there’s no excuse for it. One the other hand there’s a time and a place for everything and when dealing with US law enforcement of any kind it’s best to just be really f@cking humble and mind your own business, keeping in mind that a lot of them are former military personnel who may or may not have some severe, untreated stress disorders going on. Others are just authoritarian pricks who wouldn’t have passed a psych exam if one had been administered to them. IMO it’s best to just humor them and obey everything they tell you to do (within the limits of the law of course).

    With that being said, if they did indeed assault you I hope you nail their asses to the f@cking wall.

  88. Is it possible you can lawyer up here? I know nothing about this, but it seems to me your rights were violated. Last I heard, you still have some. Even though you might be a terrorist in their eyes.

    At least they didn’t send you for an unlimited stay at Gitmo.

  89. Peter, my god, I’m so sorry! Donation when I can. In the meantime, I’m spreading the word.

  90. I just donated $5.00 CAD for your legal fund by way of your Niblet Memorial Kibble Fund. I’m sorry I can’t donate more, but I hope it helps in some small way. As an American I’m appalled at the hair-trigger personalities running the border. I’m so sorry this happened to you. :(

  91. I also think the problem is that you got out of your car and mouthed off to the officers. That is not a winning tactic in dealing with US law enforcement. I have authority issues, too, but really, next time, sit still, be nice, and STFU.

    You’ll have a better day (and probably not be facing felony assault charges).

  92. Peter
    WHat happened between

    “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. ”

    and

    “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,”

    Are you really asking us to believe that youy did not get back into the vehicle but did or said nothing, and they just started beating you? Cos if you are, I will believe you, but I’d like to be clear on this point first

  93. This makes me weep for my country. As soon as I can, I’ll donate to your defense, Peter.

    As an attorney, I second the person who advised you to photograph your injuries. I also second the advice that you be very careful about what you post, as anything you say in any forum can be used against you. If you need help in the US for a legal defense, you have a right to an attorney, but you might want to go further and contact an advocacy group such as the ACLU.

    I’d lay even money that the charges will ultimately be dismissed, but please be careful for right now.

  94. I’m sure these types of things happen all too often. Media and lawsuits will be the best way to bring the light to these scuttling cockroaches.

  95. @Mike O’Brien – I don’t think it’s clear what happened until we actually hear more about what happened.

    We are making an assumption that Peter did not do anything to deserve such treatment because of all the evidence we have about his quality of character. It is absolutely one’s right to ask why one is being detained, and as far as we know, that is all that happened.

    Yes, it was a bad idea to get out of the car, but this is something which AFAIK is not nearly as much of a problem in Canada. Perhaps the automatic fear which many authority figures generate here in the States is not as well understood to Canadians, and thus it is far more understandable why one would make the poor choice of getting out of the car. Not to mention that these guards have been known to damage cars either accidentally or on purpose while searching them, and will deny it if you didn’t see them do it yourself.

    I don’t think you are reading between the lines here, I think you are just someone who tends to side with the “authorities” having not had a bad experience with them. All of our statements about what happened are assumptions, and we cannot assert that they are absolutely true until we learn more.

  96. Can I punch in the face all the morons that are saying that you asked for it? Can I? Usually I’m a pacifist, but I have been angry to the point of nausea since I’ve read the news and some of the comments here are driving me over the top.

    Thank you for being a mensch and standing up for your rights. No matter the cost, you did the right thing.

  97. Let us know what else we can do to help. I can donate more when the time comes. In the meantime, I’m sending a letter to the management goons of the goons that brutalized you asking for an explanation. Torontonians, maybe we should get a fundraiser happening?

  98. “I work in law enforcement and it appears that you disobeyed a lawful order to get back in your vehicle.”

    I’m sorry, what? We have to obey police orders, now, even if we’re not being arrested? You realize that you can refuse a search, right? What kind of law enforcement professional are you, a mall cop? He was not at a border, he was at a pre-border checkpoint, which is not covered under the right-to-search laws that cover border checkpoints. He did NOT have to consent to a search, and they had no right to continue doing it if he did not consent.

  99. (Commenter “Y’Know” (which you clearly don’t) you can get details here: http://www.checkpointusa.org/blog)

  100. Why though? There must be some, even minor, indication as to a trigger for this incident.

  101. (Oh, and of course, http://www.flexyourrights.org/faq … )

  102. Oh, nevermind.. read the commentary. Now its time to talk about rights.. earlier though, it was time to consider respectful behavior.

  103. I realize that ideally, rattling the cage over this issue would be helpful to Mr. Watts, but given that this is a Federal issue, and given the power and resources they have, I have some worry that it might backfire if done prematurely. The case MIGHT blow over more easily if it doesn’t turn into a situation where the Feds feel the need to ‘make an example’ of Mr. Watts, if they won’t back down BECAUSE everyone is making a huge issue out of it and they feel the need to save face by pursuing this relentlessly until they win. I agree police abuse IS a huge issue, but I think I’d prefer to see Mr. Watts free of all charges rather than risk that by using him as a platform for ‘police brutality’ protest before quieter means to help him are attempted first.

    Although by now, I suppose my suggestions are moot, given the reach and intensity of the outraged citizens of the www.

  104. […] I first learned Mr. Watts had gotten into some trouble here. He’s got an update on his own site here. […]

  105. […] his account of the incident, in which he imagines an alternate timeline in which he didn’t actually get […]

  106. Donated to the defence fund via the kibble fund link. I haven’t dealt with C&BP officers who were nearly as nasty myself, but then I’ve only been through Boston Logan Airport. I do, however, find it entirely believable that something like this happens. A grand irony, then, that earlier today Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize…

    My wife is American. She’s also an author. She and I both wish you the best.

  107. I realize that ideally, rattling the cage over this issue would be helpful to Mr. Watts, but given that this is a Federal issue, and given the power and resources they have, I have some worry that it might backfire if done prematurely. The case MIGHT blow over more easily, charges dropped, if it doesn’t turn into a situation where the Feds feel the need to ‘make an example’ of Mr. Watts, if they won’t back down BECAUSE everyone is making a huge issue out of it and they feel the need to save face by pursuing this relentlessly until they win. I agree police abuse IS a huge issue, but I think I’d prefer to see Mr. Watts free of all charges rather than risk that by using him as a platform for ‘police brutality’ protest before quieter means to help him are attempted first.

    Although by now, I suppose my suggestions are moot, given the reach and intensity of the outraged citizens of the www.

  108. How in the world is it his fault because he dared to get out of his car and question why it was being searched? What would have happened if he had stayed in his car and asked the same question? Seriously, even if he asked the question sarcastically how is it HIS FAULT the boarder guards took it upon themselves to beat him up for asking a question?

    I’ve crossed the Mexico/US boarder with a friend & her father. He does business in both countries but lives in the US. He was rudely questioned by the US boarder guards because my friend (his daughter) and I were in the car with him.

    Seriously, the US needs to learn better manners (and I’m a US citizen). I do not believe it is right that Dr. Watts got beaten for asking a question, regardless of him being told to get back into the car or not. Disobeying an order does not give any law enforcement the right to BEAT anyone, period.

  109. @Zoe

    Thank you for pointing this out and providing relevant information.

    The police often assume you don’t know your rights and will take advantage of that if they think they can get away with it. I know police officers whom I like very much, so I don’t enjoy speaking ill of them and I know not all officers are like this, but I have personally experienced officers ignoring peoples’ rights even after being explicitly told that they were breaking the very laws they were meant to uphold.

    It’s sad that the “right” thing to do is to just bend over and take it so that you can avoid violence like this (or just prolonged harassment in most cases).

    Luckily cameras are getting more and more ubiquitous so claims of assault on an officer can actually be validated.

  110. @Some Guy In new York – if they act like jackbooted thugs, they derserve to be called such. I have nothing but respect for police officers (or any public servants) who respect their authority and uphold the law in the appropriate fashion.

    Based on the information available to us, that is not what happened here.

  111. I can’t comment on the legal issues, so I’ll just say I’m sorry to hear about what happened, and if I find some extra money, I’ll donate it.

  112. […] And keep in mind, most authors are not  Stephanie Meyer or JK Rowling.  This money really will mean something.  Like not having to live on the street.  This is not a joke, people. […]

  113. Peter, I was very sorry and at the same time rather astounded when I’ve read what happened to you. I’ve already made a donation to contribute to your legal defense fund, I hope you’ll be able to hire a suitably competent legal representation and ensure that the American legal system will see justice prevail (ie. go medieval on the border guards’ asses).

    Land of the Brave, Home of the Free, indeed.

  114. …Honestly, maybe you should have just obeyed them and gotten back in your car. Why didn’t you? What – with their jobs as border patrol guards, did you expect they were going to calmly sit you down and launch into a 20-minute explanation of why they were searching your rented vehicle? They have to keep things moving along in an orderly fashion. You disrupted that orderly fashion.

    I know you were just trying to get back into Canada, but Jesus. Maybe you should just fly next time. You obviously can’t handle having your car being checked.

  115. The last time I went to the states (visiting family in Hawai’i with my son a coupla years ago) we were searched 3 X! Now I’m allergic to that border, and, it seems, rightly so. I reposted Cory’s post, and repeated the call for donations. Also sent one of my own.

  116. […] will keep their promises – The finding raises the possibility of using brain scans…twittersphereNo Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) Not the Best of Possible Worlds.Data Robotics, Inc.Dr Peter Watts, Canadian science fiction writer, beaten and arrested at US border […]

  117. @Peter – I am and everything I said still goes whether or not you were entering or exiting the United Sates (or any other nation for that matter). Just had an interesting conversation with a PIO at DHS. I’m not the only one asking for the paper work on this.

    The can of worms is well and truly kicked over. What really happened will be forth coming soon from what I’m gathering.

    @Zoe – Yes, in fact if a police officer gives you an order, you must follow it. If you fail to comply you risk immediate arrest for interference, failure to follow a lawful police order and anything else the officer can think up on the spur of the moment. This can be a matter of your own safety, officer safety, to protect a crime scene or maybe protection of someone else.

    One example would be if a police officer tells you you cannot enter your city block. Never mind all those other police officers taking cover behind their cars, guns drawn. If you try to get around that officer taking both of you into the line of fire, you’ve risked both of your lives being stupid and you belong in a jail where you can’t endanger anyone else.

    And not all situations are that obvious. Better you should go with the flow at the time and protest later.

    If you don’t agree with the order, believing the officer is overstepping their bounds, the time to argue is later in the presence of the officer’s watch commander. Either that or file a civil suit. Your complaint will carry far more weight and do more toward fixing the problem if you are not facing charges at the time.

    That comes under the heading of “live to fight another day.”

  118. This sucks. Every time I cross the border in/out of this my own damn country I worry what dumb little thing about me, my car, my spouse, our stuff, our conversation might get some border cop to be suspicious and give us a hard time of one sort or another. This kind of thing is why. Law enforcement’s job is to protect, not scare us into mousy submission lest we attract their attention.

  119. Good heavens, aren’t there a lot of lickspittle aspiring Stasi around here? And so fascinating how none of them have the moral courage to post under their own names when making baseless accusations of dishonesty against a respected author.

  120. “They have to keep things moving along in an orderly fashion. You disrupted that orderly fashion.”

    Seriously, it’s OK to remove people’s rights to keep things moving in an orderly fashion? What, is this 1950s Soviet Russia, or the United States of America?

  121. @Media – and if the officer orders you to get on your knees and suck his dick?

  122. […] Watts writes on his blog: If you buy into the Many Worlds Intepretation of quantum physics, there must be a parallel […]

  123. Sent money. Have no guns. How are you on lawyers? I’m sure my dad (ex-dean of a law school) or his friends (judges and other high legal muckity-mucks) know who might be best for this kind of thing.

    Also posting, and sending a letter to my MP, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, though I think contacting media will have the best impact.

  124. Social Media to the Rescue! This should not happen. Period. What did you ask them anyways? and why did you get out of your car?
    Posted to Digg thru io9 site, Twittered. When I can afford to donate, I will. Good Luck

  125. […] a comment » * A Canadian SF writer has come down with a tough case of good old-fashioned American justice. Stay safe, […]

  126. @Media:

    “What *really* happened will be forth coming soon from what I’m gathering.”

    You clearly are only interested in what fits your preconceived notions. Matt Drudge, is that you?

  127. Hellgasts….

  128. I am going to guess my previous comment will be moderated to oblivion, so here it is in a more civilized fashion.

    @Media – what if the officer asks you for all your money? You should just go along with that? If we believe Peter and follow your example above, then if I ask the cops why I can’t go home, the response is to beat me up and arrest me?

    DId Peter do the smart thing? No. Did he do the wrong thing? No.

  129. Am English lad I know suffered much the same. He’d done nothing wrong, but they’d just taken a dislike to him. Land of the Free? I think not.

  130. must be Peter moderating…

  131. @Media: Clearly reading in context isn’t your strong suit, nor is constitutional law.

    You do NOT have to provide police offers with anything unless they have probable cause. You don’t have to speak to them, you don’t have to get out of the car (or back in), you don’t have to do thing one they say unless you are obstructing them in carrying out their lawful duties (ie: arresting somebody else, as in the example you cite, or stopping you from committing a crime).

    So to be clear, their “lawful duties” do not include infringing upon YOUR rights, unless you are committing a crime or getting in the way of them stopping one – which Peter was not. A guy sitting in a car, or getting out of a car, do not interfere with police performing their duties (and anyway, these were border guards. But whatever).

    In the case of a checkpoint there is not probable cause to suspect you of committing a crime – you are innocent, and doing them a favour by cooperating, but you DO NOT HAVE TO unless you are in very specific circumstances (like being at an actual border crossing), and even then you only have to do certain things, like let them search you.

    The only other times you have to obey them is if they either a) have probable cause to search you, or b) they arrest you.

    If you’re the state of the “media” today, no wonder the US is going to pot.

  132. I am sending money via Paypal right now.
    First of all, I am probably a bigger Jethro Tull fan than even you.
    Secondly, I enjoyed your books and appreciated how you offered them for free download.
    Thirdly, as an American, I share some responsibility for the violence that our country has visited upon the world.
    I hope all goes well and I strongly suggest that you go on the attack, Peter. Get this story out there and watch the cowards back off. It is what bullies do. They can only operate in the darkness, like cockroaches. Shine a light on them and they will scurry off to their hidey-holes.

  133. Of course, Peter was unfortunately in the “constitution-free zone”. Might want to avoid those in the future, though 2/3rds of the U.S. lives in them…

    http://www.aclu.org/national-security_technology-and-liberty/are-you-living-constitution-free-zone

  134. I am appalled. How can I help? I probably have no relevant expertise nor connections, but surely there is something, anything.

  135. The comments in support of the police and criticizing Mr Watts would be more persuasive if the US Customs officials at the Canadian crossings didn’t have a well-earned and longstanding reputation for egregious abusive behavior.

    When cops of any kind abuse, injure, or mistreat someone, it’s standard procedure for them to charge the victim with “assaulting an officer,” mainly so that later they can get any brutality charges against themselves (or lawsuits against their agency or city) dropped in a mutual deal; secondarily, so that when their actions are reviewed by their bosses they have paperwork to cover their asses and give their union something to use to protect them; and thirdly because it looks good on their arrest stats.

    Hopefully Mr. Watts’s lawyer knows this and will proceed according to the well-worn path to dismissal.

    I’m a US citizen and I’ve been insulted and harrassed by US Customs at the Detroit car crossing, at Toronto airport, and at the Maine crossing. In these instances, I did nothing belligerent or resistant and obeyed all directions. I’ve been asked questions about my bra size; I’ve been subjected to overtly racist remarks (when I was traveling with some Nigerian-American colleagues). I’ve been smirkily asked to share a joke with officers while they tossed the belongings of a nearby Hispanic family on the ground. I think it’s gotten worse since 9/11–the border officials seem to have been instructed as a matter of policy that being aggressive and insulting will somehow protect America. It goes along with the rise in abuse of immigrants by ICE, the secret jails for aliens, the home invasions. The customs officers at JFK airport are completely out of control at this point.

  136. I wish I knew what to say to you, Peter. Just hold your head high and remember you have supporters; I don’t think we can swing much in the way of financial support but if you need to get the word out about fundraising efforts, I will certainly do all I can.

    Terry
    Coquitlam

  137. Jesus, Peter. Well wishes, etc.

    Also twittered, Facebooked, and e-mailed. (Not sure I can rouster more support than Doctorow and Scalzi, but every little bit, right?)

    But the main reason I’m commenting is this: I’d like to challenge any other US authors who have sold to Canadian magazines to donate a (roughly) equivalent amount to Peter’s defense.

    And, yes, I’ve already done so.

  138. Based on experience (I’ve been there Peter) you can expect your lawyer to sit down with the pigs, ask them for proof (which they will not have) and expect the charge to be bargained down to a misdemeanor (because, if you are completely absolved, you could sue them, and they won’t allow that).
    Hopefully you will not lose your travel privileges to the U.S. (although, speaking as a woman disgusted with her country, I really can’t understand why you would want to come to this shit hole of a country, I want to get out).

    As light reading I might suggest this
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Discovery_of_America

  139. Peter, I’m truly appalled. If there’s anything I can do to help you get through this, do let me know.

  140. oh Peter.

  141. Signal boosted. Money sent — please use it however you see fit.

    To those who say that Peter was asking for it (presumably by wearing that sort of dress in that part of town, huh?), as far as I’m concerned that level of force is absolutely unacceptable regardless of provocation short of Peter pulling out a gun and pointing it at them. Which I’m quite sure is not what happened. Hence, I think there’s more than enough data already to start taking sides.

    Regardless of what Peter might have said, that is not an acceptable reaction. It is the job of law enforcement personnel to de-escalate conflict and deal with people who are not necessarily polite. It is also flatly unacceptable that anyone have to cringe submissively before anyone in a uniform. And it is completely unacceptable to use physical force except in response to physical force, and *even* in that case, with the substantial physical advantage on the side of an armed squad of border patrol agents, it is *mandatory* for them to use minimal force.

    I will be contacting my Congressional representatives, as a US citizen, and making it abundantly clear that I consider this flatly unacceptable and illegal behavior on the part of my government and that I want them to be following this situation closely. I want to see a Congressional investigation of Homeland Security and the conduct of the US border patrol in situations like this, since Peter is far from the only person who has had this happen to him. They got unlucky and picked on someone who has a voice. That opens an opportunity to bring these practices to light and put a stop to it.

  142. Bastards. The message is clear: don’t go to the USA.

  143. Dear Peter,

    I’m appalled at what happened to you and wish you the best of luck in your defence against this ludicrous charge. A lot of people are rooting for you, and you will beat this. Much love. Maura

  144. It’s all already been said, Peter, so I’m just sending all my love. Let me know if there’s anything you need.

  145. Did you have weed on you or something? I don’t doubt this is an injustice, but I have a hard time believing there was no provocation on your part.

  146. I’m torn. On the one hand, I’m really sorry this happened and would not wish this on anybody.

    On the other hand, the experience is only liable to increase the dark, cynical take I love in your work. :)

    Seriously, though, Ithis sucks, and I really hope thigns work out in your favour.

  147. Peter, can you explain what happened between you refusing to get back into your car (after you had asked them twice what was going on) and the physical response from them?

  148. Sorry. Canadian borders suck!!

  149. Crysis 2 is awsome

  150. […] a parallel universe in which I crossed the US/Canadian border without incident last Tuesday,” writes Dr. Watts. “In some other dimension, I was not waved over by a cluster of border guards who swarmed my […]

  151. @Everybody inside US borders: Try to get out asap … if not a citizen of that great nation. If you are a citizen: try to make your fellow citizens aware of incidents like the one discussed here and hope that “change will come to America” (you can start right here with changing “America” to – no, not “The US”, but “USA”)
    @Everybody outside: I would recommend to stay ouside. If you would like to spend some time in America can also do that outside of the USA. For example in Canada.
    Why? I have been wondering … used to live there, even got my BA and MA there in the 90s, went back and forth from Europe frequently. I liked it – people were generally friendly, so I really would never have imagined then what I have written just now. Even entering (from Canada) in September 2001 was not too bad. However, after a short trip in 2005 where I definitely noticed that some kind of change had come to the country (and to far too many people) I decided to leave the US alone for whatever time people there need to understand / learn more about the world outside of their borders.
    @Peter: this might be your chance to have a drink with B. Obama – I remember people get invited when they are treated the way it seems you have also been treated.
    Disclaimer: Not related to P. Watts in any way (have read one novel, but it was not really what I had expected after reading some reviews); also not working for any Canadian tourism board,

  152. Zoe,
    thank you for the clear and concise posting of what i wanted to say in lesser form. I’ve dealt with police who have been kind, respectful and decent in dealing with me in situations as well as ones who immediately go into their ‘I am wearing the uniform and holding the badge and you are shit’ attitudes. It’s amazing how there are still people who believe that cops, border guards, soldiers, etc. can do no wrong unless extraordinary evidence is presented that they did. There is more evidence today due to camera phones and the prevalence of video cameras that officers can and do abuse their positions of authority and ability to use violence. Not all officers do this by any means, but when someone comes forward and states matter of factly a very believable story like this, these sorts of people leap out to blame the victim. Very sad.

  153. The USA is actually one of the only countries in the world which requires people to stay in their cars when they get pulled over. I don’t know for certain, but I believe Canada is one of the countries which doesn’t have this requirement, so it’s much more understandable than some of my countrymen might think that Peter exited the vehicle. Maybe this can be brought up in trial? I don’t know.

    The other issue is that the REASON the US is one of the few countries with that requirement is that so many officers die every year from complications during routine stops. Every cop that bullies you is scared shitless that you’re going to pull out a gun and end it for him, so he does everything he can to intimidate YOU out of pulling out your hypothetical gun. Which is terrible, because it leads to escalating desperation out of escalating fear– for both parties.

    I’m sorry this happened to you.

  154. To those who say that Peter was asking for it (presumably by wearing that sort of dress in that part of town, huh?), as far as I’m concerned that level of force is absolutely unacceptable regardless of provocation short of Peter pulling out a gun and pointing it at them.

    Bravo

  155. Just another fucking intellectual who thinks he’s better than law enforcement. Enjoy jail

  156. anything I can do let me know, as well. Would love to go over this with you if you ever felt to spare the time for a local blog. How devastating.

  157. i’m kinda at a loss for words. donating a little something when i know what i can spare.

  158. […] on his own blog Peter has described events: “If you buy into the Many Worlds Intepretation of quantum […]

  159. I have no idea what how this incident unfolded and have no intention of laying blame on anyone.
    That said, anyone who is familiar with dealing with any sort of law enforcement agency in the USA, knows that if you are stopped in your car, you NEVER exit your vehicle, unless expressly asked to do so.
    If Dr Watts got out of his vehicle without being instructed to do so, the US border guards will have taken that as a threatening gesture. If – IF – he was ordered to get back into his vehicle and he refused, then no-one should be surprised that the US border guards acted aggressively, and we can all argue till the cows come home at the proportionality of their response, but anyone with any common sense knows that these fellows are not to be fucked with, and that you should give them not the slightest excuse to fuck with you.
    These are not your average Highway Patrol, these are Federal officers, with a wide degree of latitude and power. Do not try anything smart or provocative and you will almost certainly get through to where you are going in reasonably good shape.

    Secondly, as to the issue of why US border guards are searching travellers EXITING the USA: I don’t know if anyone has noticed but Canada has become quite the narco-state and hotbed of organized crime. I’m a US citizen who lives in Vancouver and have to say that from the West Coast at least, law enforcement and the Canadian justice system have completely lost control of organized crime such that I suspect it has corrupted even the judiciary (how else do these maggots keep being let go?)
    Over here on the BC WA border, people exiting the United States are subject to being stopped and questioned because the US Border agencies are aware that Canadian organized crime moves BC bud into the USA, and on the return trip, brings home cash, weapons and cocaine.

  160. While this is not definitive – I was curious about the legality of exit searches, and it does appear to be lawful.

    http://www.ggandhlaw.com/CM/Custom/MOTIONS%20TO%20SUPPRESS.pdf

    The border search exception to the Forth Amendment’s warrant requirement usually applied to incoming cargo and baggage is equally enforceable to outgoing items.See U.S. v. Odutayo, 406 F.3d 386 (5th Cir 2005)

    Since the standard for an extended border search requires a showing beyond a reasonable certainty that the border has been crossed, it is logical to assume the standard for an exit search would, at a minimum, be a showing of reasonable certainty that a border crossing is intended.” See U.S. v. Niver, 689 F.2d 520, 526 (1982).

    Good luck finding justice if these jerkoffs assaulted you Peter. I can’t understand why people find instances of abuse by law enforcement so difficult to fathom – it’s not like it’s an infrequent occurrence.

  161. …and every time that cash, coke and guns goes through, it makes Canadian organized crime that much more profitable and powerful.
    Just today there’s a story on one of these thugs who I’m happy to say has a good chance of languishing for a very long time is a US jail.
    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Secret+recordings+gang+leader+Clay+Roueche+life+caught+tape/2327292/story.html
    If the Canadians were serious about border security, they would take the training and role of their border guards – who are unarmed and sometime include college students on summer break FFS – much more seriously, so that American law enforcement wouldn’t have to do their work for them.

  162. I am sad and ashamed and mad.

    I have sent a small contribution to the cat food fund to help with the legal fees. I’m sorry; I couldn’t figure out how to hang a message on it that it was the the legal fund rather than the cats. But you can’t have gotten all that many contributions from people named Faber :-)

    If the legal fees are covered, use it for the cats with my good will.

  163. leaveUSalone “@Peter: this might be your chance to have a drink with B. Obama – I remember people get invited when they are treated the way it seems you have also been treated.”

    …Wow. Just…wow. Using this experience as a way to meet President Obama? As a way to gain instant “celebrity” status? ….that just smacks of opportunism. That’s disgusting.

    Kind of (retardedly) contrary advice, right after you’ve advised non-US citizens to “stay away” from us.

  164. Um, Anonymous, intellectuals ARE, in fact, better to several powers than law enforcement garbage, most of whom lack basic comprehension skills and are authoritarian perversions of this thing called human.

  165. If you’re convicted of something, for doing nothing, I will personally make sure the corrupt people who put you behind bars pay. Along with every other corrupt cop, judge, agent or person in a position of authority.

  166. Y’know, I’ll bet the anonymous coward who “works in law enforcement” and thinks the order to get back in the vehicle was “lawful” but won’t post his name is neither a real cop nor a lawyer. He’s just an ANONYMOUS FREAKING COWARD.

    Border guards ought not to have this power. If they do under some law or other then the law is a ass.

  167. Apparently to the apologists, moving to maximum force for minimum insult is The American Law Enforcement Way. Elizabeth, above, had one of the only rational responses on this side. But as someone who since 1994 has served as a community member of a law enforcement civilian oversight committee, the assault and overreaction is not acceptable. In the USA as well as Canada. No matter how chippy the innocent civilian might get. Blaming the victim, as Sylvia points out, is stupid.

    People need to remember a couple of basic things about the basis for the US and Canadian legal code: the first, of course, is innocent until proven guilty. Which means you don’t assume a Canadian who gets out of his car and asks what’s up is worthy of max-force assault and arrest. (Neither, as pointed out above, though I will note the offenders were not border cops but RCMP, is a Polish immigrant with low blood sugar and a serious case of confusion, but that’s another story.)

    There is also in most law enforcement agencies in the US and Canada a policy of reacting with minimum necessary response. When that policy is exceeded, the officers involved are wrong.

    Border cops especially should understand that, given that the people they meet are not all US nationals who might know all the ins and outs of what being treated as a dangerous offender is about in the US.

    Oh, dammit, why am I trying to argue with any of you apologists? Peter, I’m sorry you had to go through this, and a small amount of kibble is coming your way. All the best, and wish I could do more.

    Also I hope the media attention makes someone come to their senses. I hope that the US media are also being alerted to this, as well as the Canadian media and government. And Peter, I hope you also have a lawyer in Toronto who is ready to do some legal butt-kicking.

  168. A lot of law enforcement are conditioned to think anyone opening a door or getting out of a car is going to shoot them dead. This really doesn’t excuse their reaction, they should be trained better, but it might explain it.

    Last time I got pulled over, I opened the door, and the police already were warning me to stay seated. Seems the right way of doing things. I also find I have to shield my eyes from the lights or risk seizure, which seems to annoy them.

    Any time people have authority over others, some will abuse this. I don’t see how the cop-huggers here can’t understand this.

  169. Made a facebook support group.
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=348936790393

  170. Let us know when you have your legal defense fund set up so that we can help!

  171. Threw in some extra money for the Kibble Fund. Mostly because this kind of treatment is an outrage but partly to watch your brain explode.

    I know how freaked out you get at altruism. It will be fun to watch you explain why people with no genetic relation to you are sending resources that could be used to attract mates for themselves.

  172. As an American, this sickens me the way you were treated. I’m moving to Canada.

  173. so incredibly sorry to hear this. sadly many other stories like this go unreported. making matters worse is that the general public is either immune or indifferent to the stream of outrageous police stories. i live in the states, where i tell people, “you won’t understand until it happens to you, which i pray doesn’t” sorry for your troubles.

  174. dude get your hands on the ear of students at the U of W (windsor) who are in the dual LLB/JD program and beg them to file injunctions for the video/audio

    it’ll disappear if your version of events is honest

  175. Nosiwoda@The Dziekanski incident to which you refer had nothing to do with border guards. Dziekanski had already been admitted to Canada. He got confused and frustrated just inside the exit from the customs area, started acting strangely, and when the police arrived, was tasered and died. The behavior of the police was quite unjustified, but they were not border guards and they were not dealing with border-crossing issues.

  176. According to this, the border guard claimed that Peter “…choked an officer during the struggle. I hope this isn’t true!

    http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20091211/NEWS01/91211010/1002/Science+fiction+writer+charged+after+bridge+struggle

  177. Hm, sounds like posting a sob story with no real evidence is a good way to get a boatload of money “donated” to you.

    I think I see a business plan in all this…

  178. donated $100 to the niblet. get the best representation you can buy based on their reputation and who has federal background. and dont forget, this too will pass.

  179. This happends when you live in a 3rd world country ruled by dictatorship.
    Wait, where was this incident? In the US?, oooops

    I hope you are all ok, just give some time to heal and forgot about the incident. This happends all the time in all mayor US borders. Sorry but it is true.

  180. Anyone who wants a glimpse of what law enforcement officers think of y’all should float over to officer.com for an eye-opener. I’m sure this incident will make it there in a day or two, and the comments will be 99% against our hero regardless of the facts.

    These situations are rarely as clear-cut as people make them out to be. Here in the Untied Snakes, if a customs agent or a peace officer gives you an order in the course of their duties, and you refuse to comply, they can detain or arrest you. If you fight the arrest, you will lose on the ground, and then you will lose in court. Use of force is ugly, but quite legal, and at a border crossing you have very few rights.

    I am looking forward to the video, which is just about the only nice thing about border checkpoints. As another commenter remarked, if the video disappears, the agents are completely in the wrong.

    As for all the people who have so much outrage to share and so little knowledge of law enforcement, I would strongly encourage you to do a “ride along” with your local peace agency. We are already in grave danger of turning into an “us” (citizens) and “them” (police) society. Try to see things from the other side.

  181. you know theirs always a little more to the story, it would be interesting to compare note/paperwork in account to the incident. You know it may be funny if the agents were ext ream fans attempting to get advanced copies of your work.

  182. @Candas Jane Dorsey:

    I’m not actually an apologist. I don’t know what the crap happened. I know this sort of thing happens without cause– I was eight months pregnant when my fiance was pulled over for Driving While Brown, and after seeing him get physically assaulted, having our car impounded, and being forced to stand outside in the snow for an hour before the cops separated us and took us back to the police station (even though our friends were picking us up from the gas station down the street, as we told the officer) so that we had to walk a mile and a half back to where we were pulled over.

    But I also know good cops who are scared shitless every day, and people who badger and belittle and provoke them because we’ve always been brought up believing cops are the enemy. Which makes us treat them like the enemy. Which makes them treat us like the enemy. It’s sick and sorry and there has to be a way to stop the bad behavior on both ends, somehow, but I don’t know how.

    It’s easy for me to see both sides. I wholeheartedly agree that there is no reason to treat someone the way those cops treated Peter, although I can understand the mindset that lead to them doing so. Peter didn’t do the right thing, but the border patrol did a horrific thing, and THEY’re the ones who need to be punished, not Peter. But more than that, this whole system needs to be dismantled and reformed. I hope that makes sense.

  183. Oh, this sucks immensely.

    I’ve donated a little, and can only hope that the exposure helps both avoid this kind of thing in future, plus convinces publishers you’re worth as much as we all know you are.

  184. I am astounded at the number of boot-lickers in attendance.

    Fight on, Peter.

  185. Really upset to see this happen to you. Will keep my fingers crossed for a good outcome. Hope it all works out.

  186. The US is becoming ever more antagonistic. While the US continually fails in diplomacy, other countries with more resilient economies and smarter approaches to immigration (like the Netherlands or even the UK) cash in on globalzing sentiment. Acts like this send a clear message: leave our authoritarian, disrespectful fear-mongering land alone. Of more import is the implicit message: we can handle our dumbed down masses, please do not interfere. I especially like the fact that even though you have some fo the strongest constitutional law protecting you, and you KNOW this law, nothing can help against 5 hicks on a power rage and the political necessity of defending their inexplicable and violent behaviour from the point of view of the DHS. They are correct, there is danger and ANYTHING they do is warranted to keep the “majority” safe.

  187. The treatment and violence offered to Mr. Watts was clearly unacceptable.

    I am unclear on where this incident took place. According to Zoe above it wasn’t at the actual border crossing but at a homeland security ‘internal checkpoint’, in which case Mr. Watts was under no obligation to agree to a search of his vehicle (as spelled out by a representative of the border authority itself, link below). However, the Times Herald report indicates that it did actually take place at the border crossing point, where unprovoked and random stop and searches are, although dubious, apparently legal. I imagine that the border crossing point would be covered in security cameras which might prove useful in this case.

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2008/10/aclu-assails-10/

  188. Despicable behavior by these sickos. Y’know, and anyone else who would defend this behavior should go join the North Korea regime, where they belong, and get the @#$@ out of my country. We have, or had freedom of speech, before you tyrants jacked our country up beyond recognition, and no, I don’t care how fragile your little despot ego is, beating someone up and imprisoning them is not an appropriate response to someone who gives you lip.

    Anyone involved with this outrageous assault should be thrown in jail — or better yet, fired, at which point they can serve fries (a job they’re qualified for) and send checks to Mr. Watts as restitution for the rest of their lives.

    What a bunch of disgusting excuses for human beings. Violence is appropriate for stopping people who are in the act of harming others, not enforcing your arbitrary diktats on peaceful people.

    I know of a few other examples of people who enforce “respect” through violence, but they’re all members of street gangs. Perhaps I should say *other* street gangs.

  189. Anyone defending the police in any way here deserves cancer. That is all.

  190. I’m sorry this happened.

    Subpeona the videos as quickly as you can before they are destroyed. If they are destroyed, have your lawyer question what they are hiding.

    It’s at the point where everyone should video record their interactions with border guards. If they assault someone, they pre-emptively slap assault charges on the assaulted.

    Press for them to be charged with assault.

  191. Hi, Elizabeth. I’m another Elizabeth too.

    re: cops and guards – I know that if they make a mistake, they can pay for it with their lives. I ALSO know that if they make a mistake, other people–innocent people–can also pay with their lives. Or as could turn out in this case, their livelihood and two years. I hope it won’t go that far, but if the procedures that border patrols and cops follow endanger innocent people, we should certainly look into changing that. If that’s what you are arguing, and I think you are, I can stand by that. Change the system, make it better.

    But in the meantime, Peter shouldn’t have been beaten up because he didn’t seem intimidated or because he questioned why he was being detained.

  192. The Times Herald has a little news story on the event (link). Here is the rebuttal from the border officers, take with salt grains as needed:

    [QUOTE]Jones said Watts was crossing into Michigan from Point Edward when he was selected at random for a secondary Customs inspection. Watts exited his vehicle “angrily” and border officers began checking the black sport utility vehicle he was driving, Jones said.

    Border officers ordered Watts back into the vehicle, and when he refused, officers attempted to handcuff him, Jones said. At that point, Watts began to resist and pull away from the officers “and became aggressive toward officers,” Jones said.

    Jones said a border officer used pepper spray to subdue Watts. Jones said Watts “choked” an officer during the struggle. [/QUOTE]

  193. I don’t get it… the middle of this story is sort of missing… why did the border folk start freaking out on you?

  194. For whatever reason Canadians aren’t raised to instinctively fear law enforcement officers.

    I do, and I’m Canadian, but that wariness comes from being a border-town Policy junkie and having an acute awareness of just how few rights we have when we decide to enter that hazy area between nations.

    I can’t begin to understand what will happen in this situation, and I am so sorry that you have to go through this.

    Canadians aren’t told that when we cross that line we are not allowed to ask questions, or expect accountability, or to have any pride or any respect for ourselves.

    Such behaviour is merely occasionally tolerated, and is always grounds for abuse.

    Our government has an agreement with their government. US border guards are allowed to violate our rights as individuals.

    And that’s it.

    I sincerely hope you can negotiate a resolution in your favour.

  195. PixelFish, we’re saying the same thing. Basically, my point was, it’s more nuanced than all authority figures are jerkwads, but there’s still no excuse for what happened to Peter.

  196. There’s a reason people rarely feel sympathy for authority figures. Many, in fact most cops and security persons are normal people doing an abnormal job. They are unfortunately overshadowed by people with ego problems who let the authority go to their heads, or simply don’t have the personality to remain grounded enough to realize that while some percentage of people coming through are bad, the vast majority are just normal people going about their business.

    The fact that even if you’ve done nothing, your skin always crawls a little & you always have to wonder what kind of hassle you will face because of some pumped up little scrote is obnoxious. Heinlein said it best; In a mature society, “civil servant” is semantically equal to “civil master.”

    Border patrol as it exists is security theater, nothing more. You really think any serious criminal is gonna look at the vast expanse of unpatrolled borderland and think “hey, I’ll just go where the cops are!”.

    Even if Peter did something that was interpreted as aggressive, I find it extraordinarily difficult to be believe he ‘choked’ a cop, when there were so many there. It’s an old cop joke. “What’d you book him for?” “Resisting arrest.” “Yeah but what did he initially do?” “Resisted arrest.”

    I donated money. I’m with you Peter, for all the people that get jerked around by pumped up little ignorants given a modicum of power gone stupid with it.

    When are people gonna realize that there are very real, active elements of the totalitarian systems we all fear? They exist in the actions of individuals who cross the line, with the systematic backing of the bodies in power.

  197. Why the fuck were you so stupid to get out of your car and not get back in when asked to? God damn you’re an idiot.

  198. Get the tapes. The surveillance tapes from both sides of the border. Before they are misfiled, lost or somehow damaged.

    If your lawyer hasn’t already filed for them as part of your evidentiary discovery process, ask him/her to do it now. Get the tapes. You’ll want them for civil proceedings even if they drop charges.

  199. My sympathies and best wishes for a speedy dismissal of the charges.

    Whatever happened in this universe (or any other timeline) the important aspect at this point is the charges levied against you. Provoked/unprovoked, sane/insane, whatever level the behavior of the agents involved was can be debated by others. I simply hope that you can find an attorney who can get the charges dropped with the first motion. A lengthy, soul-sucking, expensive, time-consuming legal battle will not undo what has been done to you. Nor will it likely stop others from enduring the same. Yes, there’s the “principle of the thing” but no one ever really wants to be the legal precedent. Being the legal precedent means you’re the guy who had to endure years of lawsuits.

    Best of luck to you.

  200. I really hope all those responsible for such brutal acts of this ‘Power Whoreism’ will be the ones to be beaten and confined for their acts.

    No, people like these make me wish I had a Death Note, alas, that itself is merely in a dimension I cannot enter :(

  201. While the following two articles from Homeland Security Watch (one report and a followup) pertain specifically to TSA procedure in airports, I find the observations made by the author to be extremely telling, and relevant to this discussion:

    http://www.hlswatch.com/2009/10/15/%E2%80%9Cdo-i-have-the-right-to-refuse-this-search%E2%80%9D/

    http://www.hlswatch.com/2009/11/10/where-are-all-the-white-guys-update-on-do-i-have-the-right-to-refuse-this-search/

    The author points out that what we have *permitted* security personnel to do does not necessarily match, in any way, what we *need* them to do, with the very dangerous result that security personnel have been allowed to forget what the actual nature of their job is. She details a lack of training in proper search method, data-gathering procedure, and – most relevant here, I think – training the staff AND citizens to understand the citizens’ rights during the search, including the right to refuse a search at all.

    If someone knowledgeable could let us all know how much of TSA policy applies to border patrol officers – as both are part of Homeland Security – I would be grateful.

    But I’m pretty sure the right to ask what the HELL is going on, is still permitted by law. And that beating a tourist on the way back to his home country, for daring to ask that question, is still prohibited.

  202. Peter – $10 US to the defense fund.
    Good luck and perhaps I can nag at my elected representatives on this.

  203. Also, a police report read to Port Huron Times Herald states that you were entering the US at the time of the search, contrary to published reports on the Web that have you entering Canada at the time. Perhaps you can clarify?

    http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20091211/NEWS01/91211010/1002/Science+fiction+writer+charged+after+bridge+struggle

  204. Poor baby. Maybe next time the guy with the gun says get back in the car, you’ll get back in the car. Lumps are learning.

  205. Here via commodorified–have donated to the kibble fund for your legal defense.

  206. I’ve found the cctv footage:

    http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/150368/?searchterm=Chickenlover

  207. Sadly , Guards on both sides of the bridge can get rather nasty , I drove cab in this area for a number of years and have had run ins on both sides. Sadly , this has made me refuse to cross the border anymore ,i no longer get to visit with our great canadian neighbors or spend time in their beautiful country.

  208. As a recent Canadian permanent resident who has traveled a lot in and out the US, I totally sympathize with you. Given that I’ve always read your work for free, I thought I will ease my conscience sending you some small contribution. Use it for cats (I like them) or lawyers (I DON’T like them…) as you see fit. Best of luck with the legal stuff.

    If you ever pass by Edmonton shoot me a mail so I’ll treat you with a pitcher of beer and we can exchange some “border stories”. Unless you happen to like Italian food, then I’ll have you at dinner. :-)

  209. I used to have some basic LE roles during my time in the military. There is obviously a lot missing here, but if you physically went after one of the agents, they were following standard textbook procedure. Once they feel their safety is in danger, they will respond with the appropriate force to ensure their own safety, and get control of the situation.

    LE agents aren’t looking to pepper spray random people, that’s not the stuff they “live” for. I hope the truth comes into light, but your posting is very one sides (as can be expected). People here are posting as if that is the only side to the story. But this is the appropriate response from law enforcement if they are assaulted by someone who is unarmed.

    I hope the truth does come out, and if the border agents were out of line, I hope they are disciplined accordingly. But if you were the one that started assaulting them, you should have realized at the time that was going to be a losing battle, and not many people will feel sympathy for someone that assaulted an officer, and in turn got sprayed and arrested/detained.

  210. I’ve posted a new entry to address some of the points raised here (well, some of the legitimate points, anyway), with some focus on the erroneous Times-Herald piece.

  211. I think most of us get that police work involves some stress, contrary to what the apologists for authority would try to pretend to believe. What I don’t get is why these same apologists have a great deal of difficulty ever finding examples where the officers involved were wrong in behaving the way they did, and then apologizing for their actions to the victim.

    Never happens, does it? I’ve actually seen this defended as being contrary to good policing – apparently admitting that you are wrong and taking various hits for it, financial and otherwise, would just encourage more criminal behaviour elsewhere.

  212. […] Watts' account of what happened to him. http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=932 (via @tobiasbuckell) […]

  213. […] “If you buy into the Many Worlds Intepretation of quantum physics, there must be a parallel un…rifters.com […]

  214. Will send a donation and I’ve linked to this on my Facebook page to spread the word. It will go viral more quickly if everyone does the same. Peter, let me know if there’s any way I can help.

  215. […] Canadian SF author beaten at US boarder at Port Huron document.write(''); Draw your own conclusions: http://io9.com/5424502/sf-writer-pet…anadian-border http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=932 […]

  216. […] here:  No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) » Not the Best … By admin | category: naked | tags: elbow-or-knee, even-colder, face, his-knee, […]

  217. maybe next time you’ll shut the fuck up and do what you’re told. Maybe………

  218. When I had my encounter at the Blue Water Bridge (I was intending to enter the U.S. and sent back at gunpoint, but not roughed up), the Canadian border guard, seeing me crying as I was returning said, “There, there. It happens here all the time.”
    Since I was a Canadian citizen and resident traveling on papers issued by the U.S. State Department, I phoned them to ask what happened and they told me the border patrol is not governed by the same rules as most police forces but “they are a law unto themselves.” When I suggested they could have been less aggressive and it seemed incredibly rude to treat visitors this way, he said, “Then you haven’t tried Detroit.” I am so U.S. border shy, now, that I haven’t seen my family in years.

  219. Don’t believe it…. attention whore

  220. Peter, dude, the felchers running with the law will continue to fuck you up if you bring it to them.

    Instead, bring it to the public. The public will support. We all know that while these peggers are running around loose, we could be next.

  221. That’s terrible, man. Best of luck in getting this all sorted out. Whatever you do, don’t stay silent and don’t back down. The world (especially Americans) need to hear your story.

  222. You can run, but you can’t hide… wondered where you had disappeared to these past couple of years as last year’s Christmas card was returned. My son sent me this news. Sorry to hear about your troubles, but knowing you, you will take today’s adversity and make it tomorrow’s best seller. Wish you well, and Merry Christmas,
    Rose

  223. Seems to me that this is Mr. Watts’s own web site. To those who are asserting facts not in evidence, that he somehow provoked the situation, why bother saying so? Mr. Watts was there, he knows what happened, and you’re not likely to persuade him that he did something he didn’t.

    And to those who think that citizens of friendly countries should just stay on their sides of the border, well, that would be extraordinarily bad for anyone who works in a tourist industry. (I had a Michigan Coney dog in Port Huron when I crossed there last month.) And in free societies, the government is just an administrative bureaucracy we have to deal with from time to time, not the defining principle of our lives. I happen to live in Toronto and have family and friends in Montreal, southeast Michigan, upstate New York, Chicagoland, Seattle, Vancouver, and parts of Iowa; the fact that some of these places happen to be in the “USA” or “Canada” has nothing to do with why I would go there. Just like taxes, customs is something we deal with from time to time. Tyrannies in the past have been overthrown, peacefully or otherwise, when they infringed too much in the lives of their people; today’s civil servants, including law enforcement, sometimes need to be reminded that they work for the people, not against them.

  224. Please do not judge us by the ham handed mental midgets in the SWAT uniforms at our border. Why our government chose to employ these retarded thugs to be the representatives of the United States is beyond my ability to comprehend. These fools do not reflect the average American. I hope at some point sanity returns and we replace these idiots with professional border guards. I wish you luck.

  225. As someone who gets stopped and searched all the time because I fit a profile, I can tell you that your first mistake was getting out of the car. They overreacted but clearly interpreted what you did as a threat. It doesn’t matter what your rights are — or especially what they *ought* to be — they have the guns and the law on their side.

  226. Land of the free, home of the brave! Go USA!

  227. Hey Peter.

    Sorry that this happened to you. Sent $, boosted transmission. Hope things work out.

  228. […] ashamed of my country again. I’m posting about the Peter Watts thing, of […]

  229. Please file criminal charges against those who assaulted. you. I don’t want such criminals working for my government.

    – enraged U.S. citizen

  230. Why did you get out of the car in the first place? Unless you were told to, you violated one of the major rules when dealing with law enforcement in any country.

    I don’t know Watts, but this diatribe implying that all officers are bad is just crap. Who’s power tripping? Who decided to play the power card first (you getting out without being told to…)?

    It’s sad that someone posting their story about what happened involving many officers instantly engenders hate and distrust for those officers. Did it occur to any of you that Watts might be lying to cover his ass?

    Either way, I don’t know. I just don’t have the FACTS to decide. A single person’s recollections are not facts. My guess is there’s a video or audio recording of the incident and that will tell the truth. For Watts sake, I hope it backs up his story.

  231. Reading all the comments is almost as aggravating as reading the original post. Oy.

    Color me moderate – Did you do the smartest thing? Probably not. Did you do the right thing? I have no idea. Did you deserve the treatment you got in response? Abso-fucking-lutely NOT.

    I don’t have money to give, I’m afraid, though I do recognize you as an honored member of the greater Fannish community, and thus worthy of some trust in this area.

    I will, however, do my bit to say “WTF?!” to our (that is, the USA) government. Unfortunately, as some folks may have pointed out, our government is not a single body (and none can be on this scale, alas). What one bit says is wrong, another bit does without immediate consequence. At least we can hope to make it NOT no consequence at all.

    –Ember–

  232. Peter,

    You probably don’t remember me, but we met at some con or another in Toronto; it was either TorCon or Ad Astra 2002. I’ve sent $50 your way, and will kick in more as the budget permits.

  233. I left the USA about 3 months ago. I am not surprised that something like that would happen. That is just the beginning. I advise others to be careful. If I ever leave where I am now, I will see if Canada will take me in.

  234. Where are these people who imply that because you didn’t follow an order it is JUSTIFIED that you were beaten and peppersprayed?

    Is it just me or are some people in the US so brainwashed as to have already accepted that government security people have a right to behave in any thuggish way for ANY infraction?

    Cowards.

  235. […] be a parallel universe in which I crossed the US/Canadian border without incident last Tuesday,” writes Dr. Watts. “In some other dimension, I was not waved over by a cluster of border guards who swarmed my car […]

  236. […] Cory Doctorow în BoingBoing, John Scalzi pe blogul său Whatever şi Peter Watts însuşi, aici. S-a creat o emulaţie online în jurul scandaloasei întîmplări şi s-a decis trimiterea de […]

  237. I must say as one who is a US citizen, I am sorry that our public servants are mindless fuck holes with nothing better to do but over theorize there own mindless self indulgences of terrorist attacks and wompy bullshit of the like! Just like most if not all law enforcement in the united states, they all think because they have guns and a badge, that the can get 6 or so of there but pirate cop buddies and beat the shit out of anyone they want and frame them for it.

    It’s just another day in the good ol’ U.S. of A. I’m sorry that you had to experience that. And trust me, if your poor, your more of a target. If you have proof and the funds to do so, sue them all for a discussing amount of money.

  238. “But I also know good cops who are scared shitless every day, and people who badger and belittle and provoke them because we’ve always been brought up believing cops are the enemy. Which makes us treat them like the enemy. Which makes them treat us like the enemy.”

    I’m white and was raised middle class. Priviledged status on a whole bunch of axes. I was raised to believe that the police were always the good guys, and were there to protect us … or at least people who look like me.

    Bitter first-hand experience undid that, and taught me that cops may be occasionally useful (when they’re not taking _twelve_hours_ to respond to a 911 call) but are _not_ on my side.

    So even people not brought up to see cops as the enemy are starting to do so, and I’m finding it hard to believe that folks who were brought up that way were taught that for good reasons. It does not take a very large number of bad cops, percentage-wise, to make it a bad bet to trust any random cop not to be the enemy, especially when so-called good cops aren’t making sure their worse bretheren get punished for their wrongs. If you have a ninety five professionals and five thugs, but the ninety five turn a blind eye when the thugs abuse a civilian, then the fact that “95% of the cops wouldn’t do that” isn’t much help. The cost of guessing wrong and expecting a random officer to be decent is high enough that the safest course _is_ to treat them as the enemy until you know for sure which kind of cop you’re dealing with.

  239. As one who has enjoyed the hospitality of US border guards, my heart goes out to you. People who have never been trapped at a border do not understand what it is like. These places are mo-man’s lands where the usual laws do not apply. You would be lucky if lawyer-client privilege will be respected at the border, one of the most fundamental rights. The broad powers of border guards means every person crossing is vulnerable. I was held for 6 hours and questioned twice about my political associations. Eventually I was refused entry, but nothing could have made me happier. One of the greatest moments of my life was getting back home. I will never enter the Police State of America.

  240. Jesus Christ…. Somebody needs to start a lawsuit against these jumped up twerps with way far too much power…. US Customs are just as bad. I feel for you and i hope you get some form of restitution.

  241. Sounds like you made a bad call here. There are always two sides to a story, and the police report has you choking one of the officers. Why on Earth would you get out of your car when officers with guns are telling you to get back in. Sounds like you were the idiot here…

  242. Horrified.

    On the upside, this was brought to my attention by an outraged American friend. There is hope for our neighbours, Peter.

    I hope to see this on the CBC. I am sharing this everywhere.

  243. […] untouchable border cops. I would want my friends to help me out if it ever happened to me. Update: Here's more from Peter, in his own words: "Along some other timeline, I did not get out of the car to ask what was going on. I did not […]

  244. “Just another fucking intellectual who thinks he’s better than law enforcement. Enjoy jail”
    Intellectuals ARE in fact better than law enforcement. Superior human beings in my experience. I’ve worked with both groups.
    Love what you’ve done to your country .. enjoy hell on earth. Your kind talks tough until they get their due and something like this happens to them or a loved one.
    Here’s a little psychological experiment. Look up the definition of “narcissistic disorder” in Wikipedia. When you read it, ask yourself why you’re getting so mad.

  245. This chain of comments is precisely why we have courts of law. I have no way of knowing what happened from this story. Did you antagonize the border guards, who live their lives in the constant threat of mortal danger appearing from nowhere? If so, I can only presume that men with families to go home to responded appropriately and I am sorry my country is going to have to spend more tax dollars on locking you up for 2 years.

  246. To all those from the “My country right or wrong/there’s no smoke without fire” moron squad, who have decided he MUST be guilty just because he didn’t respect your border guards authoritaaah:

    The US will continue to have an awful reputation around the world so long as this kind of crap continues. Remember, yours is the nation that was openly justifying TORTURE not so long ago.

    The whole world is watching…

  247. […] guards. The main article can be read here, a thoughtful follow-up here, and from his own blog here. Sherwood Smith writes about it here, including a plea for […]

  248. Unbelievable! An absolute disgrace… land of the free my arse. Here in the UK that tends not to happen. but if it did you have the legal right (after paying a £10 admin fee) to view any and all video recording of your image from any public authority. See if you can counter-prosecute and requisition the footage from the border station.
    I mean, the post MUST have cameras… right? It’s an international border.

    All the best, sincerely, and I hope the guys get fired if not prosecuted and jailed.

  249. Being a Windsor born Canadian, I am familiar with the winter snow storms and the various border issues and the leaking corruption of America, i at least know how ineffectual police are most of the time, i say most of the time because there are times when they do manage to do there jobs and protect people, i say most of the time because they can’t be everywhere at once to catch every criminal. Its the reason why i went and learned TSD, i was taught by ex-military that was training to be a police officer or rcmp, and we went over things such as police use of force, and pepper spray shouldn’t have come out unless Peter had pulled a knife or a gun, and they shouldn’t have touched Peter till he had shown aggression that was going to escalate to violence, instead they beat him and pepper sprayed him for asking “whats going on?”.

    Asking questions is not a crime,
    how who what where and why,
    guilty? maybe, maybe not, but a court date is in order!

    Peter best of luck with the lawsuit, hopefully the surveillance tapes will make quick work of things, and hopefully we can see a book come out of this dealing with totalitarian states =).

    The people shouldn’t fear its government, the government should fear its people.

  250. […] arrested him. But don’t take my word for it. He’s written about it in his own blog, here and […]

  251. I am very sad this has happened to you, Peter, and wish you well in dealing with the rest of this sordid affair.

  252. Hi Peter,

    A monstrous course of events, and another anti-democratic outrage from the US authorities. For what it’s worth, I’ve highlighted your plight on my Facebook page (which ANYBODY with a Facebook account can access), and on my proto-blog:
    http://windfromnowhere.blogspot.com/2009/12/defend-support-peter-watts.html

    Wishing you the best – and look forward even more to your next novel!

    DANNY O’DARE

  253. Crap that’s awful. I’m sorry you had to go through that. I’ll contribute to your legal fund and hope you avoid any further shit from this. Guess I’ll be coming to Tronnneau to buy you those beers.

  254. Peter, I just donated $20 to your Kibble fund. You are an amazing writer and one of the few that has the guts to take an informed critical stand on issues in your books and a very interesting person and I thoroughly enjoyed our email conversation a few years ago.

    I’m not a lawyer but I would file charges myself if I were you. Better yet, raise the issue with the Canadian media. They’ll have a field day with it. This kind of behaviour is simply disgusting. Worthy of corrupt 3rd world police states. I should point out the obvious, though, since no one else seems to have done it: The charges filed against you were pretty obviously filed by the thugs who beat you to cover their own arses.

    Good luck, and if you need more financial help with your case, I will gladly donate again.

  255. Sorry, but I don’t believe you. Because you exaggerate the description, and because you don’t offer any alternative reason why they have targeted you in this way, I just don’t believe you. You’d need much more credibility, but your blog and site are predominantly complaints and you set an angry, unreasonable tone throughout. Please don’t besmirch the US unnecessarily. Surely it has problems, but as someone who has crossed the border and who himself has been detained, this seems unbelievable without further confirmation.

    Freddy

  256. So sorry to hear that this happened to you. I’ve alerted the local (Pacific Northwest) SF fans and will be contributing to your kibble fund for your legal defense. In the last decade, being an American has gone from being an embarrassment to an occasional cause of deep shame; this is one of those times. I am very, very sorry.

  257. Please, put in a request with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that these guards be tested for use of steroids. Beating up civilians has been something of a plague inside America. The situation coincides with outfits such as Gold’s Gym popping up all over the place, then the patrons using steroids and HGF to achieve proportions similar to professional wrestlers. This attack on you reads similar to the Chris Benoit catastrophe in 2007. Cops are using the same drugs. These leaps over into irrational violence are all of a similar pattern. DHS will respond to official Canadian correspondence; please go through your government and stress the irrational over-the-top behavior of those officers. Roid Rage is a plague, a major contributor to America’s high level of violence. Thank you.

  258. You’ll get over it.

  259. This story just doesn’t pass the smell test…”Peter, a Canadian citizen, was on his way back to Canada after helping a friend move house to Nebraska over the weekend.” If you were on the way back to Canada you don’t encounter the U.S. Boarder patrol, only the Canadian border guards. Now perhaps the story was wrong and Peter was going the other way into the U.S. While some U.S. boarder guards do have a thuggish attitude (like many cops do), they don’t just go rogue for no particular reason. I suspect Peter got mouthy and failed to follow instructions and things escalated and he got stupid. I’ve crossed the Canadian/U.S. boarder around 15 times this year, on two of those crossings I encountered some bad attitudes by boarder guards but if you simply follow their instructions, you have no problems. Peter is a fiction writer, not a journalist, we are not getting the whole story here folks.

  260. Um, cops don’t just randomly beat the tar out of a …hrm….how to say this…person with the complexion for the protection. Story is awfully light on detail and sounds like you left out or softened some facts…the incident should be on cctv you should get a copy.

  261. Mistake #1: Getting out of the car
    Mistake #2: Not immediately getting back into the car

    People forget the distinction between assault and battery. It’s only battery when you attack somebody. The guard can say he “felt threatened” and then it’s up to judge and jury to rule on your assault _of_ the agent and whether the agent is guilty of battery in return or used “reasonable force.” . I can guess how the latter will turn out.

    Not a lawyer, just playing one — but those are the distinctions I’ve read about.

  262. Peter,

    I will send support funds asap. I wish you the best and am sickened by such actions.

  263. It’s called fascism, and it’s spreading.

  264. Peter,

    I just wanted to say how sorry I am about what happened to you.
    The police in my country are drunk on power (Remember what happened to Henry Louis Gates Jr earlier this year? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/20/henry-louis-gates-jr-arre_n_241407.html – and he was a friend of our president, no less!) I read the boing-boing article at work yesterday and became so incensed that I trembled with rage for the rest of the day.
    At any rate, I just wanted to express my feelings of solidarity with you, and also tell you that you are a great writer (one of my favorites, have all of your novels) and, from what I can tell, a really decent human being.

  265. I think you’re dealing with assault and attempted murder here – throwing you out without the smallest protection from the weather in itself is enough cause to go legal. However, I do recommend that you commit the exact details of the incident to paper as soon as possible – memory fades and teh details may be important. See if you can recall a badge number, describe a face (maybe get some help and get an impression drawn of the respective officer’s face – do NOT publish it but add it to the legal case).

    Customs is a black hole when it comes to law enforcement and human rights – this could be a good start to clean that up because for the 10 idiots in that profession there are hundreds *without* ego problems – you don’t notice those because your passage just happens.

  266. Fuck those guys and fuck all the fascist apologists posting in here. Stay on your knees guys, those power whore cops have to polish their guns somehow.

  267. Well son of a bitch. This is the last thing our hole of a town Port Huron needed right now. I’m so sorry this happened to you, but I cannot say I’m surprised. The Border Patrol at the Blue Water Bridge is Trash. *Sigh* I hope you get them sir.

  268. For the person who is writing as Montana, stromm, Trike, Phrost, jim, LAG, etc, etc, etc.:

    First, can you please stop posting under different names to say the same thing? We heard you the first time.

    Second, the only country in the whole wide world where you are required to STAY in the car is the USA, MORON. Everywhere else, you are supposed to get out so that you can’t hit the accelerator and drive off.

  269. It is, to me at least, who threw bricks on the Boston Commons in the 60s, very sketchy. Difficult to obtain the a clear picture here, and unremarkable that such a massive majority are ready to believe without further inquiry that crossing into Canada, will get you beaten by US border patrol. (Maybe there is some confusion in the record, on that matter) I find that the intellectual prowess and social awareness of the population, at large, is on the decline. You don’t EVER put your hands on a police officer, of any kind, even if he’s guarding the public library, and expect it to work out well. Whatever, happened, good luck – but seriously, becoming a big mouthed beacon of liberties in the middle of a snowstorm, at the borders of a nation that is having some security issues, is not bright. If you want to spontaneously demonstrate and cross borders without much significance, try Europe (maybe).

  270. For all those who say he must have deserved it for not licking their boots in the right direction for the prescribed number of strokes or whatever…

    As free people, we have a right (even a duty) to question authorities. And we have the right to refuse unreasonable requests from authorities – and a badge does not make everything they demand automatically reasonable.

    If your reason for obedience is fear of sudden and appalling violence rather than cooperation with reasonable requests, then YOU ARE NOT FREE. You might as well be living in a police state, or getting mugged.

  271. damn, sometimes i dont want to be an american anymore! umm for those of you who dont know : obama is preparing for civil war. hes asked the head of USNORTHCOMM for an additional 1 milliom more troops on US soil to combat an “aggressive 220 million who are armed to the teeth.” (www.infowars.com / subject heading Obama preparing for civil war?)

  272. Once again, for anyone confused as to why he was stopped by US border guards when _leaving_ the US, he was stopped prior to reaching the Canadian border guards, at a US checkpoint. This is, apparently, a moderately new and only sometimes used feature at certain borders. At a guess, confusion over this is part of why he asked what was going on. I’d have been confused too, as (oit would seem) are all those questioning why he was stopped by US guards.

  273. DON’T FORGET JEWS GOT WORSE VISITING GERMANY. USA ISN’T HALF AS BAD AS GERMANY.

  274. Since when is asking what’s going on a crime, you’re a citizen and you have rights, at least to know why you are being singled out. So basically insisting on an answer got you pepper sprayed.
    Sorry man and all the best for your fight. Tales of this paranoid gung-ho attitude have kept me from visiting the US for 40 years, and I don’t think that will change now.

    I just pity the people in countries the US army is in, they gotta put up with this sort of rubbish every day. Without recourse to litigation. May be that’s why they’re fighting back?

  275. As an American, I would like to apologize. I’ve noticed the trend of belligerent law enforcement over the last 15+ years. It began in the Clinton years, when the militarization of law enf really began in earnest (100k new cops program). Many of my retired friends (former cops, highway patrol) have expressed the same level of disgust at these ‘new public servants’. It’s only going to get worse. Archimedes (ancient Greek engineer) was killed by Two roman guards for giving them lip when the Romans came to his shores on an island in the med. Hence, I am seeing a general level of disciplined brutality not seen since then. Fortunately, the California Highway patrol has a culture that is still people friendly. Not so with most local cops.

  276. Having experience with both American and Chinese police, I have to say I prefer Chinese police. They don’t beat half to death because you pointed a finger at them.

  277. He wasn’t asked to lick their boots, for all the poetic hyperbole. He was asked, we are told, to get back in the car. You drive on the opposite side of the road, with respect to other commonwealth countries, too.. but that happened to be the requirement of the day. Some make the sophomoric point that” you don’t have to do what you are told”, but the question will be asked, “To what degree is the failure to cooperate with law enforcement efforts simply antisocial in nature, and pointless?” I hope it goes easy for you, but disagree strongly with the assertion that this is a case of being required to question authority. Go to Times Square and question the authority of the traffic lights, or demand to go to the front of the line at Buckingham Palace.

  278. @Anna Feruglio Dal Dan
    “the only country in the whole wide world where you are required to STAY in the car is the USA, MORON”

    No, of course not. In Eastern Europe (certainly in Russia and Poland, probably elsewhere too) it is required by the law that you stay in the car when pulled over and keep your hands on the wheel where they can be seen. You can only leave the car with the officer’s permission. Getting out by yourself and asking questions is often enough for things to get ugly, and disobeying an order usually guarantees a certain amount of manhandling and sometimes a fist to the face for good measure (HOWEVER, the officer should always explain to you why you’re being pulled over without prompting. This is not always the case).
    Now – I’m not advocating such behaviour on the part of police officers or any other authorities, but it is so common here that most people quickly develop the necessary survival instincts. It saddens me deeply that one would need survival strategies in dealing with people who are supposed to be the good guys, but that’s just the way it is. I suppose that folks who come from other parts of the world might easily get in trouble abroad because of those… erm, cultural differences. Money has been sent, BTW.

  279. Y’know – typical response from a LEO. You see any questioning of your aurthority as an assault and respond violently. Most people who want to be law enforcment officers should automatically excluded from the position. They have chips on their shoulders, and were either picked on by bullies as children and want to pay back the world, or were/are bullies themselves and want a license to be one.

  280. […] EDIT: Dr. Watts’s first-person account is here. […]

  281. It has nothing to do with not being an American citizen. I was on a trip to Waterton two years ago, and when coming back into the states after my visit, I was one of the “random” vehicles pulled over to the side for further “questioning”.

    Upon looking into my vehicle I was literally given HELL for having a pillbox with aspirin in it, and while you could plainly see the Bayer mark on it, I was treated like I was smuggling prescription drugs over the border. Apparently, this was a “good enough” reason to search my vehicle, dump my bags, and even question my legitimate US prescription to Zoloft, and make sure my husbands loose tobacco was actual tobacco, and not pot – which any moron on the planet can tell the effing difference between. We were interrogated beyond measure, asked about our entire history, where we went to school, who our parents were, and other very personal and embarrassing questions that were none of their damn business, let along anything that would contribute to their “investigation” of us.

    Three hours and over thirty minutes later they were finished with us, after looking through the photos on my camera, patting us down, and other embarrassing things. It took me another 30 minutes to put the baggage back together, which they made me shove everything back in the car and “move along” – forcing me to pull over further up the road to straighten things out again. Funny thing is, a very nice bracelet I purchased on the trip was lost in the mess. Whether they stole it or not, or it got left behind, I have no idea. It was not worth the hassle.

    Border patrol agents, while a necessity in any country, have every right to do what they do, but what they DO NOT have the right to do is treat people worse than you would a rabid dog. I am so sorry that this happened to you, and it makes the particular situation I faced – which upset me greatly – seem like a friendly chat over coffee in comparison. There is a difference between being an enforcer of the law and thinking you are above the law ad have every right to do what you feel just because of your badge or position. Our country is becoming a police state more and more, and it’s high time people stopped taking it lying down. I don’t know what I can do for you personally, but know that the majority of Americans (outside of the extremists) do not support this type of behavior from our law enforcement agencies, nor do we condone beating, harassing or treating our neighbors like pieces of garbage. Best of luck to you. I hope like hell you beat this.

  282. send it to CNN.

  283. Sounds like what we were told happened in S. Hussein’s Iraq. A fascist state where people in powerful positions can do and get away with whatever they like, invent trumped up charges and so on. Just a matter of how you play the game. Call it democracy and Land of the free and it’s ok.

  284. […] Watts’ own account of the event is here. It’s also being discussed on Boing Boing, Making Light, and many other places around the […]

  285. @Bill Poser: if that’s so, I’m sorry, I was misinformed.

  286. If your injuries are visible make sure you take pictures of them and have them clearly labled and dated in case you need to use them in court. Perhaps go do a doctor and make sure they see your injuries too.

  287. For whoever is interested in going to Michigan to protest, I’m volunteering to be the contact point for US caravans, particularly ones going North from or through SW Ohio.

    No event is scheduled at this time, but, if you would like to stay informed of events or be included in carpooling, send me an email at

    peterwattscaravan@yahoo.com

    Feel free to post the above email address and its purpose (coordinating US protest caravans) far and wide.

    Please be open to altering events based on requests for prudence from Dr. Watts’s legal team.

    ,Dora P.

  288. With all the gnashing of teeth going on here one would think that no one voted for democrats or republicans in the last 100 years or so and this power of the state is shockingly new. But if you desire change, the first thing is to understand that you need to change your own views of the state. It is not a benevolent entity. It is designed to take away your liberties piece by piece and is why Jefferson and others wanted to bind it down with the chains of the Constitution.

    Voters who believe they can vote in prosperity if they can only choose the right politician are delusional. These voters must change from being sheep calling for a shepherd and his dogs into human beings with some small bit of self-reliance and intelligence. It was not hard at all for anyone to discover facts about OBAMA!, for example, whose swill was gulped down by so many fools in the last election. People hear what they want to hear and the facts be damned. If you voted for any of these people now in power, your outrage here is nothing short of pathetic, but you don’t have to remain as you are. Change is possible if you can see what you are, but not possible if you continue to see yourself as you think you are: noble and good and informed. Obviously, the vast majority of voters are nothing of the sort.

  289. Well, I had my own police experience a couple of years ago. I don’t think that there’s much ground to cover, but I’ll offer some observations.

    First, despite what illiterate hacks like ‘Media’ say, there is no general legal duty to obey the orders of a police officer or any other officer of the law. There is, for instance, no duty when walking down the street to stop at an officers demand or to provide your name. Shocking, isn’t it. A police officer may not detain a person, except for probable cause that the person has committed or is witness to an offence. The truth of the matter is that police are in the habit of exceeding their lawful authority on a regular basis, relying on combination of ignorance and intimidation.

    In this case, they may have been within their legal rights to order Peter Watts to remain in his vehicle during the car search. If this is the case, it is not some general nebulous airy fairy part of ‘police superpower’. Rather, it is a specific authority spelled out in legislation or regulation.

    While ignorance of the law is not a defense to breaking the law. Peter is still within his right to inquire as to the statutory authority. He had a right to be told what was going on.

    So much for theory. In a practical sense, there is something very wrong with the American approach to law enforcement. The overall policy or practice of American and increasingly Canadian law enforcement is to escalate confrontations dramatically at any sign of resistance.

    Officers often escalate on issues of ‘respect.’ ie, if a civilian is not sufficiently obedient or aquiescent, this is seen as a challenge to the officer’s authority, and is met with an immediate escalation. There is no legal duty to ‘respect’ a police officer. However, there is a long history of officer’s escalating, often proceeding directly to violence in response to the officer’s own psychological perception of lack of respect or disrespect. This is just a fact.

    American culture for the last 50 years in film and television have lionized police and provided cultural license for their right to employ violence. The ‘cop who doesn’t play by the rules but gets the job done’ is a cultural staple. At the same time, there has been an expansion of police powers, police weaponry and a militarisation of police tactics.

    Perhaps for this reason, America has essentially turned into a police state, with all the negative connotations associated with that truth.

    In regards to the commenter who observed that there were many good cops. I’m sure there are. But 50% of police, by definition, are below average. And 20% are significantly below average. This isn’t disparagement, but simple acknowledgement of a curve.

    Good police officers may experience substantial stress and intimidation and have worries about a hostile civilian population. Unfortunately, much as I sympathize with them as people, they are still products and parts of a system which creates that hostility and intimidation. One could imagine that there were decent and humane Khmer Rouge prison camp guards. That doesn’t change the overall horror.

    Instead, we’re left with the bell curve, and the knowledge that we have a fifty fifty chance of dealing with an officer of less than average competence. That we have a one in three chance of dealing with a bad officer, a one in ten chance of dealing with a bottom of the barrel scumbag, and a one in twenty chance of dealing with an out and out monster.

    So, we buy our ticket and take our chances. But odds are, in many situations, it’s going to be tense and unanticipated. And a one in three, or ten, or twenty chance that we may end up getting assaulted, pepper sprayed, arrested or shot is a real concern.

    So when you see that badge coming towards you, what do you do?

  290. @mark… are you deliberately ignoring my point, or just being dense? I’m not suggesting that we simply flout the law. As the beneficiary of a comfortable middle class lifestyle, I LIKE the police. And as someone who works around federal police everyday, I’m respectful and appreciative. But again… are ALL commands from police to be obeyed without question, and is ANY on-the-spot punishment meted out for disobedience appropriate?

    Unless you’re suggesting that Dr Watts posed a real physical threat to the border guards, then consider what happened and its results. He was beaten and maced (ever been maced? It HURTS), charged with a crime that could cost him two years in prison. He may no longer be allowed into the US, severely damaging his career. He could lose his home to legal costs. He may have suffered serious injuries. He was left without appropriate clothing in a fracking blizzard. His computer and notes – essentially, his livelihood – were confiscated.

    I ask you again, Mark and all other apologists for unlimited police authority – IS THIS APPROPRIATE? Was this response either necessary or just? His life may be ruined, his liberty taken, his livelihood destroyed, because he DARED to ask the police a question? Is this RIGHT?

    If you think it isn’t right but he should still have been a sheep, then you’re comfortable with a police state. If you think ruining someone’s life is okay for questioning a cop, then I daresay you might ENJOY living in a police state.

  291. Checkpoints Near the Border
    Be aware that DHS agents have recently set up constitutionally-questionable “security checkpoints” up to 100 miles inside U.S. territory. If you should drive into one of these roadblocks, you are not required to answer the agent’s questions (usually starting with “Are you a United States citizen?”). Nor are you required to consent to any searches.

    thats probably what he ran into, considering he was leaving the states

  292. […] Watts’ own words: If you buy into the Many Worlds Intepretation of quantum physics, there must be a parallel […]

  293. > For whatever reason Canadians aren’t raised to instinctively fear law enforcement officers.

    I’ll agree to that. There’s still bad cops, but it’s not part and parcel of a whole culture of violence and intimidation. But I refuse to believe that he put up any serious struggle on the theory that he’s not a complete and total moron.

    Another fifty to the kibble fund.

  294. […] description of the incident posted on his blog, says he was punched in the face, pepper sprayed and unceremoniously dumped across the border the […]

  295. Had several happy holiday road-trips in the US in my 20’s, the best being our honeymoon in New England. Loved the scenery and found most everyone friendly. But a black cloud has descended since the USA’s extreme over-reaction to 9-11 — it’s no longer a country we wish to visit or have anything to do with. We actively avoid the place even if we have to pay more for airline tickets.

    USA: Land of the fearful, home of jack-booted thugs.

    Donation made to the kibble fund, but please use it for lawyers and fight.

  296. I’ll tell you what you must do:
    Call up Michael Moore and make a documentary like Capitalism – A Love Story.
    GM humiliated him for 20 years by not letting him into their premises.
    Now that they have imploded, he held his movie premiere in their main auditorium.
    The movie is about how GM and other corporations have destroyed American society and ecology.
    Yep – that movie premiered in the same GM premises that Moore was not allowed entry for 20 years.
    That is what you must do.
    And you get a REAL SURE WAY of getting all your lawyers fees back.
    This is your real chance to fix the system. Don’t waste it. EFF has all the know-how needed
    Don’t let them get away with this.
    Thanks for paying from your pocket for OUR fight!!

  297. All you crazy mother fuckers out there must be smoking some of that good BC Bud! Thinking this asshole did nothing to attract attention to himself or to be singled out.
    First get your facts straight, the agents at the border are NOT Border Patrol! Border Patroil doesn’t work at a Port of Entry, the work in between ports of entries. This asshole you’re all so worrried about did not comply with the instructions given to him. When I go to Canada, I respect your laws and your officers working your border. If Mr. Asshole had gotten out of his vehicle, answered their questions, none of this would be happening. None of you were there except the asshole and you’re all taking his word that for no reason, after 10,000 cars a day are going through and being inspected, and nobody but him were assaulted by the Customs agents. Duhhhhhh you dumb mother fuckers, I can see your national pride and sticking up for your country, but did it ever occur to you that this asshole just didn’t want to go along with the program and paid the price. Wheather he got his ass kicked or not, depends on how he reacted when they realized they had an asshole on their hands.
    Whatever your personal feelings are about the USA, I could give a shit.
    Believe it or not, all the assholes aren’t just from one country, every country has their assholes. And an asshole from your country got called out and now he wants to cry to everybody because they didn’t take any shit from him. Fuck him, I hope he froze his ass off walking back home.

  298. “…What’s interesting to note here, assuming the reports I’ve read are accurate, is that the federal agents turned him over to local law enforcement. This is suspicious because federal agents are not considered state police officers in most circumstances and state laws governing the alleged assault of a police officer don’t normally cover federal agents. This is especially true given the fact that there are federal laws making it a crime to assault a federal agent.

    Why then was Mr. Watts not arrested and charged federally if he did indeed physically assault a federal agent? Does anyone really think the federal government wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to prosecute someone who had clearly assaulted one of its own in the performance of his or her duties? Not hardly…”

  299. First of all, the question has to be asked, why on earth would the border policeman beat someone up for no reason? I really think there’s a lot of creative writing going on here.

    I happen to be a creative artist myself, and a minority, and I have never been anything but exceedingly polite to the border officers on both sides of our border with Canada, and in the many countries I have visited, and I have never, ever once had a single problem with any of them.

    And I have the common sense to know that you never, ever get out of a car without being specifically asked by the officer.

  300. This is perfectly consistent with how I’ve seen the police operate. The assault of an officer charge is a proactive way of defending themselves when they rough someone up with no cause. It also allows them to arrest you for resisting arrest, ie, without cause.

    People find this unbelievable because the police are a small minority and can only violate the rights of the poor and those that look poor so many hours per day. Statistically, you will never have problems with them yourself.

  301. Just amazing. We’ve got “Bob” who’s so hateful I’m ashamed to admit I’m from the same country as him. I wrote to my representative and asked him to look into the matter. Since he’s black then perhaps someone getting mistreated will be a concern for him. I’m not holding my breath though given my past experience. It’s no wonder we get terrorists if this is how we Americans act.

  302. Yes “Bob”, we all know an asshole when we see one. How old are you? More than likely you are on “some of that good BC Bud” with this sort of language spewing out of your shithole.

  303. Welcome to the Land of Hope and Change!

    Dr. Watts, I am shamed that you were treated so. I hope it all goes the right way for you.

  304. Wow, I had a bad experience once trying to cross into Canada not long ago. Not nearly as bad as this, but the border agents were dead set on not letting me into Canada at mid-night when I had a two hour drive to Toronto before I could get to my hotel. Extremely sucky time, but nothing compared to that.

  305. Wrong place, wrong time I think. It’s pretty unusual for American C&I to stop somebody on the way to the Canadian side of the border. The usual routine is you stop at the Canadian side and deal w/Canadians. They must have been looking for somebody. Maybe on that gig all day long and sick of it, sick of taking shit from everybody. If I listen closely, I can almost hear them talking about it – “the next son of a bitch that won’t get back in the car is gonna get it, I swear, I’m sick of this shit”, and then the next son of a bitch got it. It doesn’t excuse them, but it almost had to be a situation like that.

    Remember, if you are not on a first name basis with the cop, border official or whatever, he does not know you are not dangerous, in fact, he is trained to assume you are. Listen to him – and shut up.

  306. Peter, posted about this (basing it on Cory Doctorow’s piece at BoingBoing) over at ePluribus Media — hopefully it’ll help get some notice and help for you.

    http://discuss.epluribusmedia.net/content/dhs-border-guards-assault-imprison-and-file-false-charges-against-canadian-writer

    Included at the bottom of the post is information for various border patrol and DHS contact points.

  307. I’m routinely ashamed that this is a country that soldiers die defending.

  308. On behalf of the handful of Americans who still believe in a civilized society of law and not brutal force, I apologize.

    I have traveled between the US and Canada several times, into and out of most of the states and provinces on our border. Canadian border patrol officers are generally polite and civil in their duties. American border patrol officers are still pissed off that the Marine Corps wouldn’t take them due to mental instability. The sad fact is that if you were an ring of Colombian drug dealers, or an terrorist with a truck load of explosives, we would have waved you into the country with a big smile. A Canadian wanting to leave? Well that is a genuine by God national crisis. Be thankful you weren’t shot. Our police generally save that sort of treatment for innocent citizens , but you never know.

  309. This is nothing new: http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/2009/12/thin-blue-whine-pt-i-petulant-police.html

    Or, check out this map: http://www.cato.org/raidmap/index.php

    These fascists need to be stopped, now.

  310. Your entering a foriegn coutry boozo. I’ve crosse that border a thousand times with no problems. but if you start to be a loud mouth on either side you will get shut up He probably needed it. and in the US 2 Years means 2 yrs not 2 mos

  311. I am not sure of the situation behind why you were detained. I may have something to do with it. I am willing to help testify to certain information that may help keep you free.

    Contact me at

    ms_fatalefemme@yahoo.com

    Best of Luck,

  312. joooe

    I get it, according to your twisted worldview, we’re all serfs. We need to bootlick, “yes master, no master, right away master”, and then we’ll be more likely to escape without a beating. If one of us gives our masters lip, that certainly means we need a beating.

    B.S. We’re free men and women, and we have a right to free speech. The only justifiable use of violence is to defend innocent people — not to protect these border thugs’ megalomaniac delusions, or punish someone for “disrespecting” them.

    A society in which violence is used for these purposes is called a police state. But, since you’re apparently proud of being a good little slave, I guess you’d welcome it.

  313. […] Peter Watts Beaten, Pepper-sprayed Before Leaving US, Charged with Assaulting a Federal Officer By wildrote Science fiction author and science commentator Peter Watts has had an altercation with US border officials while attempting to return to Canada from the US. He is being charged with assaulting a federal officer, which could result in two years jail time if he is convicted. The whole situation seems highly irregular and my bias and support are firmly behind Watt’s, who says he was assaulted without provocation after exiting his vehicle and repeatedly asking why he was being searched. Read his account on his blog here. […]

  314. joooe:

    1. Learn to spell. (But I’m barely willing to cut you a little slack there, given that this commenting system doesn’t allow you to edit comments.)

    2. Peter was leaving the USA and going home to Canada. Get your facts straight.

    3. I look forward to the day when you happen to come across a CBP agent who had a fight with his wife the night before and decides to take it out on you, and will shed no tears when people start telling you that “you must have deserved it.”

    4. You don’t seem to realize that this is symptomatic of a system that assumes that accusation = guilt and that people in uniforms are always right, no matter what.

    5. Let’s see some real proof — not just assertions from CBP agents with no independent evidence — of Peter’s guilt. It’s the CBP’s responsibility, as the accuser, to prove guilt, not Peter’s, as the defendant, to prove innocence.

    6. Further to the above, maybe you like the idea of living in a country where the Government can arbitrarily accuse you of anything in the name of National Security and you are obliged to prove you didn’t do anything wrong — with the burden of proof being to prove a negative. Good luck with that, Jack.

    7. Blaming the victim: you sound like the kind of person who tells a woman who was raped that she probably deserved it, too.

    -=-=-

    I can only hope that it’s still possible to reverse the decline of the USA and halt the slide of this country into a place that is governed only by the whims of individuals, and where the rule of law continues to become more of a joke all of the time. But then, joooe probably is comfortably ensconced behind his shield of it’ll-never-happen-to-me and immune to reasonable doubt.

  315. […] border back into his home country of Canada last Thursday. You can read his account of the actions here, but as the language may not be appropriate for some readers, here’s a safe for work […]

  316. Enjoy your little pity party. When you’re ready to discuss his like an adult, c’mon over to my blog.

  317. It is tragic how it takes an incident like this to get people to pop their head up. Now the people who have popped their head up will expect SOMEONE ELSE to fix it, when they are perfectly capable. Too bad you don’t know who you really are.

    The border “gaurds” have no power or authority UNTIL you VOLUNTEER IT.

    I know, you are going to say I am nuts. Let me ask you this, next time you try to “cross the border” tell them you are going to the LAND KNOWN AS XXXX, and see what happens…. I can tell you from personal experience they only have jurisdiction and the ability to “do something” if you VOLUNTEER to go to the CORPORATION. They have nothing and can not impede your ability to travel when you tell them you are going to the land known as xxxx.

    What gets even better, you think i am full of shit. But am I really? Why don’t you check out Marc Stevens at http://www.marcstevens.net who promotes a voluntary society where you are not forced at gunpoint to do business.

    It is tragic that you were harmed, and there is remedy. Using the court system to go after “one of their own” with “one of their own – a lawyer”… to be adjudicated by “one of their own – a judge appointed by the federal (or state) government”.

    Really, tell me this is NOT collusion and racketeering.

    To the reset of the ‘swarm’ who want some else to fix it, good luck. Lemmings.

  318. Hey Peter:

    Y’know, when Obama was elected I thought maybe, just maybe I could stop apologizing for being an American. But alas, proven wrong yet again. I’m sorry you had to go through this, Peter, and am glad we’re pooling resources to help your defense. Best wishes in a speedy and just outcome.

  319. It’s important to remember that “just touching an officer could get you tasered or beaten and stuck with a felony charge for assaulting a police officer.”

    http://www.flexyourrights.org/faq

    I crossed the border for decades.These guys have a ton of cache, and if they’ve gotten PO’d at something, they’re free to punish however many unfortunate people they want until they’ve got it out of their system. Like police, some are friendly and professional, some are not. Considering that this is a crossing north of -Detroit-, I imagine the guys hired to work there aren’t noobs or known for their ‘liberal’ sympathies.

  320. Peter,

    That’s rough. But you’re still alive and at least you’ve got lots of publicity, so Canadians can get a wake up call. At least you didn’t get tazed a dozen times like so many children have for “not following an order” fast enough, which could have killed you.

    This shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone whose been following what’s been going on in the US since 911. I say that as a former NYC resident (currently live in Toronto but was living in NYC on 911) and dual US/Canadian citizen.

    It’s time to face the fact that we’re living next to a rogue fascist state, and quickly becoming one ourselves. Time to whip out that Phillip K Dick.

    http://www.ae911truth.org
    http://www.journalof911studies.com
    http://www.911truth.org
    http://www.globalresearch.ca

    Best,

    svf

  321. […] 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, s___-kicked, handcuffed, thrown wet and half-naked into a holding cell for three f___ing 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.). Dr. Watts' Blog (Not work safe for language) […]

  322. Dave,

    We are discussing a serious matter with few words imagining extremes, on both sides. I am not an apologist for limited police authority. I do not, however, accept the foaming at the mouth propensity to mischaracterize law enforcement which has been demonstrated in the majority of posts.

    I doubt – very seriously- that the good doctor’s actual behavior has been characterized fully in the descriptions. As stated in the original post, no matter what country you are, you do not get pissed off, imagine yourself a civil rights martyr and attempt to grapple police, especially border patrol.

    In the end, most situations where someone has been hurt in an altercation of police can be described as a case where, should they have stood out of the way and let the emotionally distended person have his space, nothing would have happened besides the idiot wearing himself out.

    Is that what we are talking about, because I seriously doubt that it was merely “asking a question” that precipitated the violence.

    Ive been searched legitimately, and the canadian border reentering the USA, were asked questions, and have crossed in and out a hundred times, without incident. Furthermore, Ive never SEEN an incident. So -some- of this hysteria is a load of crap, and basically just hype and bullshit. Want to know the real truth? Maybe no one ever will, but people will believe whatever they want mostly.

    Again, good luck. Im not worried about going back and forth to Canada, and do it regularly. And when I get searched, I don’t freak out.

  323. “The sad fact is that if you were an ring of Colombian drug dealers, or an terrorist with a truck load of explosives, we would have waved you into the country with a big smile. A Canadian wanting to leave? Well that is a genuine by God national crisis. Be thankful you weren’t shot.”

    I think, after reading this whole page several times, this one deserves the prize.

    Enjoy the oxygen you are able to get.

  324. “I’ve never had a problem with the police, ergo your story of police brutality must be a complete fabrication!”

    What sort of illogical bullshit is this? Ask for your tuition money back – your education was a failure.

  325. First I would like to apologize for the US Customs actions. They have felt entitled to treat people like they are less than human. This came from The Bush Administration and it will take decades to wash the dirt that the administration bought into. There are many other areas where the US has been lost any amount of credibility because of the Bush Administration.

    Second I hope you follow through and sue the people involved. On the other hand you are probably lucky(?) that they didn’t prosecute you for asking questions. The patriot act gave the government carte blanche to pretty much do what ever they wanted to do. That is what lead to this, as it gave free reign to police state tactics.

  326. Unbelievable, but the sad fact is that this kind of abuse can happen to anyone. I’m sorry as hell that you have to be the poster boy for this, Peter. I hope you encounter someone with common sense and the ability to help with this. Good luck!

  327. […] recently author Peter Watts had an encounter with US border guards as he was returning to Canada. Read through his account, but when you return […]

  328. Don’t come to America. It’s bad here. Cops feel entitled by some form of Naziesque training program that went down after 9/11 to manhandle the citizenry in any fashion they please. Up until that point it was pretty much a “hands-off” assessment, but now there’s just the suspension of habeas corpus to the point that they (the ‘authorities’) are all of the opinion that every single American citizen is out to kill them. And they continue being spoonfed citizen hate on a daily basis. What sucks most about this is that they are feeding their own hysteria by making the people of America afraid of them; when people get scared, they get angry and then they get violent. It’s crazy and we’re all – all classes of us – coming to the point that something is going to boil over if they don’t settle down and just start doing their jobs without harming us any longer. It’s one thing to suspend habeas corpus during wartime to extend it to enemy combatants – it’s another thing altogether to use it’s suspension against the populace as if every citizen is suspected of being terrorists from the get-go, and that’s exactly what they’re doing on an unparalleled scale. Until it improves (and it’s going to take a lot of cops going to a lot of jails) – stay away from the USA.

  329. Dear Peter,
    My sincere sympathies to the ordeal you had to undergo.

    The US border guards(CBP) believe you should always be obeisant and subservient to them, like a small child in kindergarten.
    When an intelligent adult confronts them and starts asking logical questions, it hurts their small mind like a razor cutting through what little gray matter they have.

    Simply put, they are animals wearning smart looking uniforms

    Peace

    Srinivas(Ex-detainee at US border)

  330. “taking his word that for no reason, after 10,000 cars a day are going through and being inspected, and nobody but him were assaulted by the Customs agents”

    ITYM “nobody else _with_as_big_a_microphone_ was assaulted”. Which is, frankly, much easier to believe.

  331. Hi,

    Just discovered your case of ill-treatment via Richard Morgan’s site. I don’t know what’s up with the US these days, I mean I like America and hopefully there’s plenty of nice people still living there – might just be the calibre of employees in their Border Guard. Hope you are on the mend.

    You know what they say about the UK, Canada and America though? At least we in the UK have 3000 miles of ocean between us and them, you poor buggers have to live next door!

    There! That should get me a visit by the black helicopters should it, unless that clown in the White (Black?) house is too busy turning the US into a 3rd world country with too many noisy mosques…. apart from Utah – don’t think even he could change the Bible Belt.. (cue more black helicopters!!)

    Cheers,
    Mark.

  332. I hope tey put you in jail where you belong.

  333. […] http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=932 […]

  334. Me he quedado alucinado con la noticia. Try to move media otherwise these wild people will manage to hang you two years of jail while they keep commiting abuses,

    really sorry!!! I wish you the best from Spain

  335. Peter – that must have been a shocking experience; were it me, my own imagination would have been running riot, just making up the very worst that could happen. But thankfully you didn’t end up in some grand guignol Twin-Peaks high-freakery episode and are still in there, kicking and scratching. I find it interesting, though, that this thread has attracted some glittering examples of the heartless, dead-eyed trolls who get off on acting like some righteous Hand o God, star-spangled thugbot just itching to show us all the error of our radically swinish ways. Yeah, Bob, Joooe and Dave – y`all reading this?

    For me, a British writer who hasnae yet ventured to the Land of Brave, it seems utterly clear that you should assume that almost anyone wearing a badge could be a psycho. A sad assumption but in the cause of living to write another day, a necessary one. Ten semolians to the fund. Venceremos!

  336. I work in immigration (an attorney, not a border guard of any kind) and it’s the same story as always – there was a poster talking about a bell curve, and it’s absolutely true. Some border personnel, whatever agency they work for, are disgusting creeps. Some are good people. ALL of them have been trained to think that if you exit your car, you are going to try to hurt them. I don’t think that training is extreme; I really don’t.

    I think the alleged beating, pepper-spraying, etc. is appalling, and highly recommend filing suit, but governmental agencies in the U.S. are immune from several kinds of suit (something I don’t entirely agree with). Did you get badge numbers or anything of that kind? It might be better to pursue these people as individuals if possible.

    As someone who likely visits the U.S. fairly often for his work, Mr. Watts ought to have known that getting out of a vehicle would provoke a strong response. Ignorance is no excuse and really, it doesn’t take a savant to assume that exiting a vehicle is a bad idea. HOWEVER – the aforementioned “strong response” ought to have been merely holding him for further questioning. NOT any kind of physical violence. Mr. Watts also DOES have a right to inquire as to the statutory authority, and ought to have been answered.

    In short – the border personnel’s reaction was absolutely unwarranted unless we are not receiving the full story, and some sort of remedy is due Mr. Watts. However, that remedy should be mitigated by the fact that he willingly made what is perceived as a threatening gesture at the very least (exiting his vehicle).

    I personally feel annoyance and shame when my car is searched (though it’s never been searched so thoroughly as some of the posters’ here). However, at the exact moment of the search, there is NOTHING I can do to stop it. Right now, people can protest to their elected officials or to the superiors of the border officers themselves, but until the law is changed? For better or (decidedly) worse, it is the LAW. If you break a law, you will be thrown in jail. Your remedy is not to loudly declare that the law doesn’t apply to you; it is to try and change the law. It does not change the fact that the law is inviolable. Full stop.

  337. Hello,

    First, let me say how sorry I am for you having had to have lived through this.
    Now, on to the police’s actions against you.

    Let me start by saying I am a police officer as well…….and I find these actions you were subjected to both objectionable and, unfortunately, fairly typical.

    A search of a person’s vehicle by a large group of police, at the side of the road with no reasonable explanation(not at a Border crossing station), while the owner/occupant is ordered to remain inside would cause a holy legal hell of a mess in Canada. (Look up Operation Pipeline, it’s “suspicious” vehicle template (slightly modified) is still taught both sides of the border)

    To not explain to the owner/driver/occupants what is happening, and why they must remain inside (if for so called “officer safety”) is something that would raise legal hell in Canada and should do so in the U.S as well.

    The problem is the cost of defending ones self in court against spurious charges laid by those who would take the authority entrusted to them by the public to protect and serve and then turn into rights trampling jack booted thugs.

    Most police officers are good hearted people who just want to do their job and go home at end of shift. I am sorry you had to be subjected to this kind of incident.

    Even I, as a policeman, am cautious when crossing the US border and dealing with their Border Services. With their hyper-paranoia against threats to their nation and their crazy drug war I just follow the Border Guards directions to the letter…….. and avoid going to the US as much as possible .
    It’s a shame because they are a wonderful people….after getting past the hyper-paranoia.

  338. At first I couldn’t understand the people who were blaming the man for being assaulted. Then I realized that they must have been horribly abused their whole lives and learned to blame themselves for being victimized. Now I just feel sorry for the people who are defending the border guards for the horrible life long abuse they must have suffered.

  339. >“I [got] out of the car to ask what was going on. I repeat[ed] that question
    >when refused an answer and told to get back into the vehicle.”
    >So… why didn’t you just get back in your car? Could’ve avoided some
    >extreme unpleasantness.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when an otherwise innocent man becomes guilty of the unofficial crime of not cowering before authority. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  340. @Fred

    In America, you generally stay in the car. Don’t know how it is in Canada.

    Which is not to suggest that what happened to Peter was in any way justified. But that’s where people are coming from. If Peter had stayed in the car, this probably would not have happened. However, being as there’s no law that you must stay in the car, you can’t _blame_ Peter for what happened just because he got out.

  341. I’ve got a feeling, that being a recognized writer, he may have become a little “lofty” in his attitude. Artsyfartsy attitudes may fly in Toronto…but not in a serious location.

    You have to realize what sort of job the Border Guards have to do. They face drug dealers/users, armed miscreants, fleeing felons, drunks, terrorists, and any number of other scum bags. So they don’t have the leeway of being smarmy with people. If they ask you to do something , do it! If they ask a question, answer it the best you can, with no extra verbiage! They aren’t there to be your buddy!

  342. CityNEWS (Toronto) has picked up the story: http://www.citytv.com/toronto/citynews/news/international/article/65813–toronto-writer-arrested-at-u-s-border

  343. Nobody cares about you, your encounter, or your “version” of events (no doubt made up after the fact).

    Other more reputable news agencies have already reported that you ended up choking a border guard.

    Tell you what – when the border guards tell you to get back into the car – protip: do it.

  344. > We are discussing a serious matter with few words imagining extremes, on both sides.
    The situation IS extreme! He was beaten! Maced! Jailed! Robbed! Border guards aren’t supposed to do this unless someone’s fighting or running. I refuse to believe he’s that stupid, and continually amazed anyone would.

  345. And I’ll repeat what many others have said: “acting lofty” doesn’t qualify as “fighting” or “running”. Attitude is not a crime.

  346. >In America, you generally stay in the car. Don’t know how it is in Canada.
    >Which is not to suggest that what happened to Peter was in any way
    >justified. But that’s where people are coming from. If Peter had stayed in
    >the car, this probably would not have happened. However, being as there’s
    >no law that you must stay in the car, you can’t _blame_ Peter for what
    >happened just because he got out.

    That’s just sad then. Getting out of the car and asking what the problem was would not be considered aggressive behaviour to anyone that I know.

    >”The question is what is attitude?” he said. “I’ve been told … that the
    >mere act of getting out of a car, the mere act of taking any action at all,
    >not simply responding to an order … is considered attitude. … What they
    >take offence to is not necessarily what anyone else would find
    >offensive.”
    http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/738193–war-of-words-ends-in-author-s-arrest-at-border?bn=1

  347. The attitude of people who are willing to accept the new paradigm of law enforcement, “law enforcement through overwhelming force” is quite amazing to me. The police are supposed “to protect and to serve”, and they are supposed to protect and to serve THE PUBLIC, not themselves. Yes, they have a dangerous job. That is why they carry guns, armour, pepper spray, handcuffs and radioes, that is why they don’t operate alone, and why they have a wide array of legal powers.

    However, that does not mean that they have the right to answer to any perceived level of thread with overwhelming force. They are not soldiers fighting a war, they are civil servants, FFS! “If somebody gets out, the cop may feel threatened because cops are shot during traffic stops” is not a valid argument. If a law enforcement officer can’t deal with the pressures of his ultra-dangerous job maybe he should find a safer job, like being a lumberjack, a fisherman, a construction labourer, a truck driver or a farmer.

    BTW, for people who are not aware of the statistics, that was sarcasm. All these abovementioned professions have a higher annual rate of occupational deaths per 100 000 workers than law enforcement. In case of lumberjacks or fishermen, approximately 10 times as much of them die in the line of duty as cops. So spare my your tears. Lumberjacks and fishermen die so you can build your houses and feed your children, but you don’t give them the right to punch, pepper spray and taze members of general public with impunity. I blame the media for the uniform fetish which causes this general admiration of “respect my authoritay”.

    Yes, being a policeman is approximately three times more risky then being Joe Average working in an office. If you can’t deal with this level of risk without trampling over the civil rights of people you are supposed to protect, then don’t fucking join and go work in the office. Oh, wait, then you won’t get a gun and a tazer and a licence to smash faces against the pavement. Sight.

    And, BTW, I was and still am considering a career in law enforcement. Somebody has to and because society needs LEOs. But somebody should watch over the watchmen. The DHS seems to severely lack in oversight right now, which is why I’m not planning on visiting the Land Formerly Known As Of The Free anytime soon. I hope this changes. :-)

  348. […] Watts writes: If you buy into the Many Worlds Intepretation of quantum physics, there must be a parallel […]

  349. A deeper question here is: what gives border guards (or cops generally) the right to stop peaceful travellers in the first place? If, as the founding documents of the u.s. proclaim, all human beings are equal, then how can having a badge and a uniform license one group of human beings to forcibly seize another human being’s person and property without probable cause?

    Given what notorious liars cops are, I’m not inclined to put much faith in their claim that Watts assaulted them. But even if he had, it would be perfectly justified as self-defense. (Imprudent, no doubt, but that’s a different question.

  350. […] attacking a border guard’s fist with your face now appears to qualify for an assault charge. Via Watts’ blog: In that other timeline I was not punched in the face, pepper-sprayed, shit-kicked, handcuffed, […]

  351. Horrible. But unfortunately not uncommon. As much as I sympathise with you, most people falling victim to police and official brutality do not have the network and support that you have. Their stories are forgotten.

    We need to stand united against the terrors of governments and their fascist lackeys worldwide.

  352. I found the post confusing. It doesn’t specify in which direction the author tried to cross the U.S./ Canadian border. I also wasn’t sure if he was arrested or left outside without his jacket to take a bus once the station opened. Of course, whatever the specifics, the incident is an outrage. I suppose I should be thankful I’ve only been harrassed verbally when moving between countries.

  353. USA = United States of Abuse? Sad.

  354. Getting out of the car is not an offense if you consult common sense. It might be a moral imperative for US citizens dealing with US police & customs, but this doesn’t mean it’s a perfectly normal behavior and every human being should automatically know they are “attacking” someone just by stepping out of the car.

    I’m sorry to hear this happened to you. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

  355. I do not pretend to understand the minutia of law enforcement across the atlantic but I’m dismayed at the people who take the attitude of rather smugly suggesting that it serves the guy right for not getting back in the car and what did he expect. What sort of mindset do you have, it is truly tragic you accept this a justifiable course of events.

    How about when asked why they were searching his car giving a polite and to the point answer and then asking him again to sit back in his car whilst they continued their search and that they’d answer any other questions he might have while doing so.

    That to me sounds like a more reasonable response from a civil and sane point of view.

  356. One moron actually defended the trashing of the Fourth Amendment in the service of whatever power-grab the border guards were attempting. That’s the one which says that unreasonable search and seizure is unreasonable.

  357. This is all very fascinating, but the support for your fictional account will evaporate once the video is released, showing your ‘unprovoked’ assault was not quite in keeping with your self-serving one-sided revisionist account.

    Nice try, but the ability to distinguish fact from fiction has not completely vanished, on either side of the border.

  358. I’ve associated with Peter for many years and although I’ve only seen him annually, I’ve never known him to be anything but affable and easy going.

    @those who are skeptics regarding legal fund donations being some sort of scam – well, believe what you want. The vast majority of those that have made donations are people who know Peter personally. Those of us that know him, defend him based on what we know of him, what our experience is. His contact-cred is very high. On the other hand, border-guards, as a group, don’t have much cred for *instances such as this. At the end of the day, we believe (a) direct empirical evidence or (b) the story that, in the absence of (a) has the most credibility.

    Even accepting that the border guards may have actually interpreted Peter’s actions and words in a way other than Peter intended, Peter delivered or as might be seen by an objective third party – their reaction was over-the-top and not inconsistent with past and ongoing border-guard organizational history.

    At the very least, dropping Peter off (or rather … “evicting” him) without his winter jacket is, in the absence of a *verifiable need to withhold it as evidence*, is not only unconscionable, but a pretty good indication of the mal intent on the part of the guards. Even if the evicters were upset over the incident, even if they were evicting Professor James Moriarity, one would expect that professional conduct would be applied and either his jacket returned *or some means of winter protection* provided.

    I find it curious that according to http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/091212/entertainment/michigan_cda_writer_arrested :

    Smith said the U.S. attorney’s office declined to prosecute and that the case was turned over to city police in Port Huron.

    I wonder why US Customs and the US attorney would decline to prosecute, but would turn the case over to local police?

    Hopefully this will resolve itself in Peter’s favour very quickly. It’s a good way to ruin the holiday season.

  359. Can’t wait for you to share my cell with me. You sure do have a pretty mouth.

  360. @Michael Green – “I wonder why US Customs and the US attorney would decline to prosecute, but would turn the case over to local police?”

    – distancing themself from the political fallout of this event..

  361. @all those who are so certain that Peter’s account is fictional and that they will be vindicated once the video is released … apply the same filter to yourself … perhaps it is Peter who will be vindicated.

    Do you know the border guards personally such that you can vouch for either of their characters – as those of us who know Peter are clearly comfortable in vouching for his?

    Do you know Peter personally such that you are certain his account is self-serving, one-sided and revisionist?

    If you know neither the border guards nor Peter, then what are you basing your conclusive certainty on? What makes you so “right” when clearly there are many people who have posted here that know Peter personally who are clearly prepared to accept his version.

    Maybe you are right and the video evidence will show Peter’s account as incorrect. If so, so be it. On the other hand, if the evidence vindicates Peter, will you be so quick to return here to give him his due?

  362. “It’s a sad state of affairs when an otherwise innocent man becomes guilty of the unofficial crime of not cowering before authority.”

    Well said Fred Derf. But this does seem to be the American way, which is odd considering how nice and friendly they can be as well. I recall a friend in London telling me about the marked contrast between the US and Canadian officials on that border. He was allowed to cross without incident, but had felt sufficiently unnerved by the undue hostility on the US side to mention it.

    What a horrible thing to happen to you Peter…I wish there was something I could do to help (so long as it doesn’t involve crossing the US border of course :D) That’s one place I don’t think I’ll be visiting next year.

  363. @James Wayne –

    “Nobody cares about you, your encounter, or your “version” of events (no doubt made up after the fact).”

    … um … have you read any of the posts here? *You* may not care about Peter, his encounter or his “version” of events … but, clearly more that a few people do care. How many? A couple hundred … on this site alone? Well, at least more than *zero*.

    “Other more reputable news agencies have already reported that you ended up choking a border guard.”

    Are they reporting on independent eye-witness accounts, or are they simply repeating the official US Customs statement-to-the-press. If the former, by all means, post the link.

    If the latter, then yeah, of course they are reporting that he “ended up choking a border guard”, because THAT’S US CUSTOMS’ VERSION. Don’t try to imply greater credibility from “other more reputable news agencies” if they are all repeating the same Customs official release statement.

  364. I don’t know if anyone’s mentioned this yet–there are way too many posts for me to get through today–but this reminded me forcefully of the Stanford prison experiment of 1971. Here’s the website for it if you’d like to go poking around for more info:

    prisonexp.org

    It might help your defense, especially if you can prove that these guys lacked oversight or proper training. Zimbardo actually testified at one of the Abu Ghraib trials. It didn’t help the guard get off culpability-wise, but then that might be in your favor, too.

    Just don’t go to the afore-mentioned website on a full stomach: the details are pretty nasty.

  365. I think it is amusing that there are so many comments like this one ..

    I apologize on behalf of my nation, and all the U.S. citizens who pay these idiots’ salaries.

    As if there is something unique about cops in America. Any cop, anywhere, is going to do what he needs to do to get on top of a perceived threat.

    If you think this is unique to America, you’ve got another think coming.

  366. Perhaps some of what happened could be understood by reference to this article. http://petermoskos.com/readings/Van_Maanen_1978.pdf Note that I said understood, not justified.

  367. Here’s a small statistic for you, then. The number of police brutality reports per 100 000 population in 1991 was 0,7 in France, 6 in the UK and 92.5 in the USA.

    American police is not uniquely violent. But in the community of democratic countries USA is certainly the leader in the industry of state-sponsored violence, just as it is the leader in the percentage of population in prisons, the amount of death sentences and so on.

  368. Here’s a small statistic for you, then.

    It’s great that you pulled out some statistics to counter a point I did not make, Leslie. Do you have a cite for those? I did google but nothing obvious jumped out at me.

    My point remains. Present a cop with what he perceives as a threat in Chicago or Glasgow, and you’ll see similar results. Cops must honor the threat: they’ll use the tools they have to make the threat go away.

  369. […] ore dopo i fatti (ringrazio Zebulon Carter per la segnalazione) e Watts ne parlava sul suo blog (da oggi tra i miei preferiti, nella barra dei link qui a destra) in termini tanto […]

  370. The number is from here: http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-toughcrime.htm

    Anyway, the issue is that the reaction of a cop to a perceived threat will be similar both in Chicago and in Glassgow – escalation of force in order to subdue the potential threat. However, what differs significantly is:
    a) what cops constitute a threat (many commenters from the US seem to think that “getting out of your car” is a threat sufficient to warrant beating, tazering, pepper spray, arrest and overnight stay in jail)
    b) what measures will be used to contain the threat (the US police seems to immediately escalate to a much higher level of force then the police here in Europe).

    The issue is not unique to cops in America, but in the civilized countries, American cops clearly stand out above and beyond their colleagues in the willful use of force on civilians they are supposed to serve and protect. A pity, really, especially this model is exported to the entire world via movies and TV shows, desensitising people to the issues of use of force by governmental agencies authorised to do it, and of the oversight over the use of force in question.

  371. @ Brian Dunbar

    “I think it is amusing that there are so many comments like this one ..”
    >I apologize on behalf of my nation, and all the U.S. citizens who pay these idiots’ salaries.
    “As if there is something unique about cops in America. Any cop, anywhere, is going to do what he needs to do to get on top of a perceived threat. If you think this is unique to America, you’ve got another think coming.”

    It would be odd though, wouldn’t it, for an American citizen to apologize for a cop behaving badly in Italy, Japan, elsewhere?

  372. Truly sorry for whats happend to you.
    Can’t you just stay in Canada, avoid the trial and wait for the U.S.A to tear it self apart?

    Otherwise I recommend moving to Sweden.

    Good luck.

  373. You deserve everything coming to you. Its just like a canadian to embellish the truth. I can’t believe how many idiots would actually send you money. Take whats coming to you and maybe learn a lesson, stop with the pity party would you

  374. […] Here’s more from Peter, in his own words: “Along some other timeline, I did not get out of the car to ask what was going on. I did not […]

  375. And once again, Mr. Watts is proven prophetic in predicting that vicious collections of data flying about the maelstrom are not self-aware and do not understand punctuation.

  376. […] Here’s more from Peter, in his own words: “Along some other timeline, I did not get out of the car to ask what was going on. I did not […]

  377. […] himself has since spoken a little bit about the incident (twice actually), but for obvious reasons can only say a certain […]

  378. Peter, I’m truly sorry to hear this, man!

    I sincerely hope your lawyer is able to get this case dismissed. This whole fiasco sounds like a complete and utter waste of your time and U.S tax payer’s money.

    -Greg.

  379. I first read about what happened to you on the cbc.ca news site. I am a big fan of your books and I’m pissed.

    I made sure to write a comment on with that article, http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/12/12/watts-arrest-us012.html , about how you’d certainly know better than to assault any border guards, even more specifically noting how the kind of things you wrote in Maelstrom just only kind of sort of implies you know what the consequences would be.

    You can’t see that comment, of course. Because it’s been censored 3 times since my first attempt to put it to that article.

  380. I’m posting this simultanously in the comment streams of all relevant newscrawl posts.

    This is a moderated blog. I’ve nonetheless approved pretty much every comment made to this point, including— especially — those of the trolls and LE-apologists, because I figured what the hell: both sides, right? I’ve allowed pros and cons and even lip-smacking threats of buggery from Deliverence hillbillies. I kept silent, and was accused of not answering simple questions. I made a comment, and simply drew in more trolls.

    Enough.

    I have two things to say on this matter before the filter goes up. Anyone whose IQ is set anywhere above room temperature will know that I can not discuss blow-by-blow details of this incident because they are evidentiary: I am not going to hand the prosecution advance details of my defense any more than I am going to announce how much money’s been raised to fight this thing. This case is too important to jeopardise in a futile attempt to satisfy a supercilious doofus like JMG8.

    Secondly, there are those who think that this was an act of grandstanding on my part, that I took pleasure in it somehow, that I was looking for a fight and wanted things to escalate. Think about that. These people are saying that I deliberated waded, unarmed and alone, into a nest of heavilly-armed and ill-tempered border guards who wield as close to carte-blanche on the use of force as you can get outside a Sopranos episode — and went out of my way to provoke them. That I enjoyed it. That I did it for fun.

    These people are idiots.

    Previous posts stand. Subsequent posts at moderator’s discretion.

  381. I live in South Africa, I have seen the exact same behaviour before.

    Those border guards were looking for a bribe. When they didn’t get one, you got “consequences.”

  382. Brian Dunbar, on December 14th, 2009 at 11:36 am
    Pfft

    Percieved threat – more like a percieved buck. They targetted Watts precisely because they thought he wouldn’t question what they were doing and once they were done with their “search” could bully him into greasing their sticky little palms.

    When he actually did question what they were doing, well they weren’t going to get that bribe so they decided to do what any crimnal gang member would do and mugged him.

  383. That sucks. Getting mugged like that and all. Remember, by defending your rights you’re defending all of us. I’m grateful for that.

  384. Peter,
    I witnessed some of the traumatic dealings you had with the American Border goons. It was horrific. My husband and I sat in our vehicle totally dumbfounded. You were in total compliance with what they asked you to do.
    At no time did we witness you being beligerent. I hope that you win your case.
    Read the Globe and Mail, Dec. 14 re Security- Canadians don’t forfeit right to privacy at border, says Mary Ellen Callahan, chief privacy officer for the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.

  385. The US is becoming a fine newborn Christian police state, isn’t it. A majority of people believes in invisible magical zombies and becoming a zombie themselves, there are obviously too many trigger happy Dirty Harry figures in position, teenagers are sent to jail for showing affection, there is serious discussion whether evolution is just an opinion despite tremendous research and working technology, and there is a government that needs to spy upon everybody. At least until Obama came. Nice. But not really. Imho, it’s time the US comes back to its senses again. That overreacting attitude merely based on bronze age myths from the middle east weakens that once so great modern and free country. The depicted incident is one of many. We’ve seen a record producer arrested for not Twittering for instance. We’ve seen lost people being tasered to death at the airport.

  386. Peter,
    I witnessed some of the traumatic dealings you had with the American Border goons. It was horrific. My husband and I sat in our vehicle totally dumbfounded. You were in total compliance with what they asked you to do.
    At no time did we witness you being beligerent.”

    Assuming this is not some kind of cruel hoax, would whoever posted the above please please please contact me privately (fb@rifters.com). You must know how important this is.

  387. I wish you well sir. You are now a champion for the rights of citizens.

  388. […] Gardinen. Der Kanadier hatte einem Freund bei einem Umzug innerhalb der USA geholfen und wurde – warum auch immer – dort an der Grenze von US-Beamten aufgehalten. Sein Fahrzeug war Gegenstand einer Durchsuchung […]

  389. […] http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=932 […]

  390. Terrible incident, my sympathies, poor as they are for real help. Surfed in from a link on Pharyngula.

  391. Unfortunately, it happens more than you think. Get a lawyer in the US, try the ACLU or NYCLU and sue under Bivins v. United States – more suits the better. They are goons, they are trained to be so, and they must be stopped. Also contact the office of Sen Patrick Laehy, D. Vermont. They are working on this.

  392. […] Cory Doctorow alerted the blogosphere via Boing Boing. Peter quickly gave a summary of the incident from his perspective on his web site. […]

  393. […] } In a strange turn of events, sci-fi author Peter Watts was attacked by a pack of wild rabid dogs at the United States/Canadian border recently. While he suffered significant injuries and lost his […]

  394. Fuck them. I fucking knew the US is becoming a goddamn police state. Just another example. Since when is having one person in power not a dictatorship, anyway?

    Hope you recover fine and definitely hoping those assholes land a jail term for that shit. At the very least I hope they drop the case against you. Please, PLEASE let us know if there’s any way we can help.

  395. If it’s any consolation, it’s not just outbound Canadians who are being subject to excessive use of force and unwarranted, intrusive, aggressive tactics. Inbound to the US, an American citizen with passport, I was handcuffed and detained after refusing to answer questions for which they lack any statutory authority to demand answers to, after politely explaining that my refusal was pursuant to my civil and Constitutional rights, and their total lack of authority to compel an answer from me. I would also contact the Canadian consulate in Michigan, or the Canadian department of state; they have an interest in protecting their citizens from gross violation of civil rights. Sen. Charles Schumer (D, NY) and Sen.Carl Levin (D, MI) should also be contacted. It was just a matter of time before something like this happened, I’m sorry it was to you. As a American citizen I’m outraged and embarrassed, and you have my apology for the actions of our government.

  396. That is seriously fuct. I have been quite concerned about the increasingly totalitarian nature of my beloved country for some years, and this episode further validates those concerns.

    A donation to your legal defence and a letter to my congressmen and representatives is on the way.

    Rich

  397. Some important details may be unclear, but I feel comfortable making some inferences. I’ve seen enough of the American law enforcement attitude on TV shows like COPS to know that they are not the least bit interested in communicating with suspects. Most seem to have the “we’re the ones asking the questions here” attitude.

    Getting out of the car? Bad idea. No question; however, I doubt any of the officers took the 15 seconds to calmly say, “Sir, we are conducting a legal, routine search of your vehicle. For your safety, please get back in the car, or we are authorized to use physical force. If you wish to complain after the search, contact ….” If someone wants to resist after hearing that, they are taking their chances.

  398. http://notiziefantascienzaedintorni.blogspot.com/2009/12/autore-canadese-pestato-da-squadraccia.html

    Here is the faithful translation of this post into Italian published in my blog.
    Let us know how we can help.

  399. […] Watts responded in the only way a great writer can, with words of gold. […]

  400. For what it’s worth, I’m also appalled by the incident you had to bare at the hands of U.S. authorities. It seems to be fashionable these days for law enforcement all over my country these days to exercise the brutality that you experienced. For this I’m sorry. I am beginning to wonder if things like this are a portent of things to come. I hope you sue and I hope you win.

  401. Mr. Watts,
    As a native of California, my sincerest apologies on behalf of the USA. As a human, I share your outrage and you have my sympathies and support.

    Please understand that the gestapo border guards do no represent me, nor the country that I was born into. If they attempt to imprison you, I will personally come to fight for your freedom. Do not give in (they will try to buy you off and/or silence you). Do not despair and, most importantly, do not ever surrender.

    Oppressors and ignorant thugs must always be resisted and not allowed to prevail, no matter what uniform or tin-badge that they hide behind.

    Once again, my apologies and support to you.

  402. […] Science Fiction writer Peter Watts beaten up and arrested by US border guards. Hooray Uhhmmerica! Land of the plebe, home of the slave. Comments (0) […]

  403. Fucking jackboots.

  404. Wow, the number of people willing to accept the idea that something as trivial as even repeated questioning of why one is being stopped constitutes sufficient provocation for a beating, spraying and a night in jail really must have had their figurative and/or literal balls drop off after 9/11. I grew up in the sort of neighborhood where walking through the park was (in the minds of the jackass bunch of cops that patrolled it) sufficient cause to be stopped and searched or otherwise rousted. So while i’m not going to paint every cop or border guard as a deranged authoritarian wacko, there’s enough of them out there that shouldn’t be and one really does have to be a total sheep to accept it without challenge or question

  405. As an American I find the whole situation seriously messed up. I wasn’t standing out there so I have no idea what happened, I also have no reason to take or disbelieve your word on what happened just based on the fact that I’ve never met you and have no idea what kind of person you are. Unfortunately given the freaky bizarro world direction my country has traveled in last decade I really have no reason to doubt what you say is true. America isn’t the same place that it was just twelve years ago let alone fifty. There are some of us trying to turn things around but the bad guys have gotten so adept at gaming the system it seems like nothing we do to fix the Republican years actually matters in the slightest. Whether it be the weak, cowardly and ineffectual Democratic party ignoring all abuses (even the most heinous – you will no doubt note that Dick Cheney is still a free man), or the corrupt, criminal, and malignant cancer that is the Republican party twisting all laws, rules, and rights any way they want with impunity and braggadocio.

    Personally I hope you bring a lawsuit against the US border patrol in general and against these fools in particular as this is the only way things will change. The current crop of Americans are too weak and blinded to affect change – change is going to have to come in the form of our neighbors and ally’s refusing to associate with us anymore and actively condemning our actions and calling us to task.

    On behalf of those of us who still aren’t fascist nationalist idiots, I apologize for your treatment. I hope you realize that not all of us down here are like that. As someone else noted I will write to my representatives about it – however like any of the dozens of other letters I have written to them over the last six years I believe it to be a mission of futility.

  406. > Previous posts stand. Subsequent posts at moderator’s discretion.

    Absolutely necessary. Your story has attracted the attention of several politically motivated blogs so you will now be bombarded by mindless drones who have no purpose other than defamation and baseless accusations in order to discredit you. The facts don’t matter to them nearly so much as their ideological beliefs.

    These smear campaign operators have nothing of value to offer. You will be doing us all a favour by blocking their worthless comments.

  407. The link below is about the guy who was detained and threatened by TSA on a domestic flight while carrying $4700.00; which is in no way illegal (even crossing the Canadian border, you are only required to declare amounts over $10,000.00, which is one of the few things that CBP can even check you for in the first place, when you are leaving US soil). The ACLU sued on his behalf, and got the DHS (of which TSA is a part) to change its policy. This is encouraging, regarding your case. But, while a drastic change in policy is necessary; it’s not enough in this case. Someone needs to lose their job, and a huge punitive judgment should be awarded for what you were put through, which is what the goon squad that mauled you had been specifically trained to do. :

    http://blogs.wsj.com/middleseat/2009/11/11/tsa-tells-airport-screeners-to-stick-to-weapons-and-explosives/

  408. Good luck to you, Peter. Maybe your case will help change things, miserable though the experience must be for you. My husband and I encountered one of these internal checkpoints once, while returning from an Adirondacks trip, and thought it strange, chilling and very Orwellian.

    I haven’t visited Canada since the 1990s, but others have told me that the border crossing has gone seriously downhill on the US side, even if you’re a US citizen returning home. The absolute power the guards have reminds me of crossing Eastern European borders under the Russian communists – and that’s frightening and sad. Even back in the 90s, the Canadian guards were professional, pleasant and human, while the US guards scared me. I can’t imagine what it’s like now.

    Incidentally, not all US citizens know the “rule” that you are supposed to stay in your car when pulled over. Never having had that dubious pleasure, it would have made more sense to me to get out, where they could see me and see what I was doing.

  409. Good luck to you — erosion of rights is something we should all be concerned about.

    Left a little bit in the kitty fund. Use it for whatever you need it for.

  410. As an US citizen, I humbly offer my sincere apologies. The US used to be a decent place.

  411. You know what’s funny to me?

    In reading up on this unfortunate story over the last week or so, I’ve read literally dozen and dozens of different accounts on different discussion forums where people who were outraged at this story posted accounts of themselves or people close to them being treated badly by US border agents at the US-Canada border.

    Yet I haven’t seen a single one where someone claimed they were subject to any violence, unprovoked or otherwise.

    Weird!

  412. I haven’t crossed the US border in over 20 years. Your experience doesn’t make me want to change that. Lucky my profession doesn’t require it.

    Karen and I are hopeful the DA takes a look at the Video and drops the charges (at least in THIS version of reality).

    I look forward to reading the Short that this experience inspires.

    Good luck next week!

  413. As a US citizen and a Michigan resident, I apologize for the actions taken by these officers.

    I kind of realized something was wrong here, starting during the Vietnam war. But it’s clearly worse than I thought. Please do not let them get away with this.

    -Steve

  414. Mr. Watts, feel free to commiserate with your fellow Canadian Alex Lifeson (of the band Rush) and how he was abused and beaten by rabid pigs back on January 1 2004 (including being tazered and having his nasal cavity crushed by a violent beating).

    And like you, he was innocent. The witnesses at his trial, hotel employees, backed up Lifeson’s story that it was the pigs who were violent, not him.

  415. I have to say – I’m pretty disgusted by the automatic genuflection to authority of my fellow Americans. To paraphrase, “this would’ve never happened if you had kept your mouth shut…no sir, yes sir…don’t ask questions….submit…..” This from a nation who prides itself on being tough and independent. One of the cornerstones of the American legal system is to have some fucking idea why you’re being stopped, arrested, etc.
    I’m also of course highly disgusted with Media. His automatic defense of power and suspicion of the citizenry is pretty emblematic of the US media…definitely has the right mindset to work his way up the media ladder.
    And, before you think I’m somebody who doesn’t “get what cops have to deal with” I work with military and police forces regularly. I’ve been on both sides of the situations: falsely arrested and watching cop friends deal out-of-control assclowns. there are some very good people in law enforcement but there are PLENTY of ex-High School Bullies who want that job for life. And, given how poorly the US pays its cops you get a lot more of the latter than the former.

  416. I’m not an attorney but I play one on TV.

    One thing you could do here.
    File a Motion to have a trial. Don’t let em take the easy way out.
    That’s right, make these goons go the distance here.
    Make em put on the stupidest trial in history. make the prosecutor pissed off
    these charges even got filed.
    The whole charade, let it unfold.
    A guy did this in Texas when ABC goons tried to get him for
    “pre-emptive” DUI. That’s right, drinking in beer a bar (GASP!)

  417. Yes, and somewhere there’s a parallel universe where you simply remain in your nice, warm vehicle and **none of this ever happens**.

    Or, maybe there’s a universe where you later activate your brain and decide that maybe you will just follow a lawful order and simply return to the vehicle when asked to do so.

    Finally, maybe there’s a universe where you don’t do everything in your power to ESCALATE what is clearly an already-tense situation.

    Oh, wait … silly me, I forgot: in any of those universes you’re not a self-absorbed “artist” who thinks he is above the law.

    A final thought: it is DEEPLY ironic that you seem to take such pride in mocking those who disagree with you with labels such as “stupid” or “idiot” or “troll.” Put simply: I can’t think of a single person I’ve ever known for any length of time who would be so outrageously, breathtakingly STUPID as to turn a simple border stop that would have been over in less than 10 minutes into an international incident.

  418. I’m aghast. This seems to be the norm lately and it disturbs me greatly. Is there even a Canada left? Or are we only US puppets now?

    I hope and pray that the person who posted here attesting to be a witness has the decency to do the right thing and contact you and your lawyer to help.

  419. This is a strange story indeed, because I have only ever experienced professional and courteous treatment on both sides of the border.

    If a border officer requested to search you or your vehicle (which is their right at a border crossing), you must respectfully comply. Period.

    There is something else that happened here for the officers to feel threatened for their safety, sufficient for them to call in backup, use pepper spray and arrest him for assaulting a federal officer. There are cameras and microphones everywhere at the border recording everything that goes on, so it’s doubtful that border officers threw the first punch.

    In any case, I hope for his sake that he can get the charges dropped as this could cascade into one heck of a nightmare (already has actually).

  420. Good luck Peter,

    I happily contributed to Watts’ defense fund and am disgusted by the individuals attempting to defame him with lies and innuendo. He has clearly and repeatedly indicated that his actions did not warrant a violent response on the part of the authorities. His response is credible — read his books; read his blog. I do not trust the official version of events and look forward to the relevant details coming to light.

    This sort of incident is not good for anyone, American or Canadian. It does not help commerce, tourism, or security. Neither does denial.

    > This is a strange story indeed, because I have only ever experienced ?
    > professional and courteous treatment on both sides of the border.

    I hear just the opposite when I discuss this news item with neighbors, friends and colleagues. Nobody seems surprised at the story. The common opinion is that things are getting worse, and that the american border officials are becoming increasingly rude, hostile, and downright abusive. It’s been a couple of years since I crossed the border, but my own memories consist of an irate US official flinging our passports back through the open window at the Detroit-Windsor crossing, and another incident when a loud overbearing man screamed at me and my family because we had brought some apples for the kids to eat on a trip via Bar Harbor. Most of us just grin and bear it, and travel less, and become more cynical, but is this the best thing?

    There is a problem at the border. Denial on the part of officialdom and their defenders is an unproductive response. Watts is not the problem here. You can try to “fix Watts” or you can try to fix the problem. I vote for the latter.

  421. This is @ Common Sense:

    Minister beaten, tasered by border guards (Warning: Some may find it disturbing):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVMZUgmrJrk

    (It is a little ironic to me that this one is a minister getting abused.)

  422. Thanks for the link Chris, that’s too bad for that minister, but it doesn’t really apply here.

    That minister was being placed under arrest by a police officer (not a border guard). The officer clearly stated he is placing him under arrest and that he needs to get out of the car. Yet the guy didn’t; he resisted arrest.

  423. The US has aways been welcoming to foreiners. Untill the last few years, at least. Its Sad.

  424. LEOs – This week in my hometown of Modesto, CA, a schizophrenic woman was shot to death when she advanced toward police officers while wielding a knive. She was shot rather than tased because officers wanted to avoid a repeat of recent taser-caused deaths.

  425. “The officer clearly stated he is placing him under arrest and that he needs to get out of the car. Yet the guy didn’t; he resisted arrest.”

    It’s the idea of being arrested for no other reason that resisting arrest that’s troublesome in a country where the Constitution is supposed to be in effect. The irony here is, if the Constitution IS indeed suspended 100 miles from all borders and ports, then what document is giving law enforcement and the judicial system the authority to operate? Our Founding Fathers were smart on that one: keep the power and it’s limitations in one document.

  426. Here’s my blog on police brutality:

    http://philosborn.joeuser.com/article/372066/Police_Brutality

  427. I’d really like to be able to say “please stuff your comments about US enforcement agencies somewhere dark and damp”, but entirely too many things have gone unfortunately in the recent past for me to do so honestly.

    Mr. Watts, you have my gruidging support. ^_^

  428. Your anonymous supporter — of course I hope that she has responded by now — can you trace her post to an Internet provider, to a subscription, to an address, a name? Good luck.

  429. For people here defending the border guards:

    What happened here is routine. If you doubt Watts’ version of events you should see this video:

    http://eclipptv.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=7086

    I spent many years living in the US on both coasts and I was brutally assaulted by officers at least twice, simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time or asking a question. If I’d resisted at all I could have been seriously injured or even killed. I had and have no criminal record.

    This happens to people hundreds of times a day, it just doesn’t get any media coverage in most cases.

    That said I’ve also known some good cops, but their numbers are dwindling. The problem is not so much the officers themselves, but the way they are trained. This brutality is coming from the top down, don’t doubt it. They are not trained to try and be helpful to the public that pays their salaries. They are trained to give orders and “enforce” right off the bat, and then start tazing if those orders aren’t followed immediately. The pack mentality and God complex are encouraged by the administration. They are being trained to be the enforcers of a dictatorial regime, rather than protectors of the public good.

    If you don’t see this now, you will someday soon.

    Police have a tough job and should be treated with respect. But respect implies responsibility: if they break the law, the penalty should be more severe than for an average citizen. They are in a position of authority and public trust and because of this they can break many laws with impunity otherwise.

    When they start doing that routinely, and treat the citizen whose taxes pays their salary as an enemy and/or subordinate, they lose that respect. Then they just become govt thugs.

    That’s what’s happening and it it needs to stop, for the sake of all the good police and the nation as a whole.

  430. By law, not only are you entitled to compensation, but those guards should lose their jobs. Sadly the “good ol’ boy” system seems to run rampant in America.

  431. […] “No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded)” (Catherine comments on Peter Watt’s blog) […]

  432. Oh, dear, it looks as if Sol Wachtler was right.

  433. […] Not the Best of Possible Worlds. […]

  434. […] No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) » Not the Best … (rifters.com) – December 11, 2009One of my favourite contemporaries, Canadian SF writer Peter Watts, has been arrested, beaten up and pepper-sprayed on the US-Canadian border on a return trip to Canada. He is now facing felony charge… […]

  435. […] נשמע מוזר מכדי להיות אמיתי אבל כן, הסופר הקנדי שכתב את סדרת Rifters (עוד לא יצא לי) ו-Blindsight (נהדר, רוצו לקרוא) נעצר על ידי משמר הגבול של ארצות הברית ביציאה מהארץ. לטענתם, הוא התחצף לשוטרים והכה אחד מהם. לטענתו (ולטענת עוד כמה אנשים שהיו שם) הוא שאל אותם מה הבעיה והם ריססו אותו בתרסיס פלפל. ועכשיו, הוא צפוי למשפט ואולי אפילו לקנס או זמן כלא. הכל נשמע נורא הזוי. כתבו על זה בעיתון אבל כדאי לקרוא את מה שהוא אומר על זה בעצמו. […]

  436. Dear Mr. Peter,
    I wrote about the US border accident in Polish newspaper. I’m Polish with Canadian citizen. Believe me I went trough the very similar case few time crossing US/Canada border . Last time my car has been confiscated and I had to come to Canada by TAXI. If I can help you to testify against the cruelties, insults and abusive behavior of US emigration officers – You have me any time !

    your truly,

    Lucas Schuch
    416 604-2996

  437. […] that’s why I’m donating to Watts’s defense fund.UPDATE: Watts on what happened: Along some other timeline, I did not get out of the car to ask what was going on. I did not repeat […]

  438. sounds like you had your self a grand old time with the border cops. first off don’t get out of the f-ing car unless asked to, these guys are psychos and on a hair trigger and will kill you if they even think you are trying something (aand we all don’t want that!). Last time few times i went down to the states i did not enjoy the hospitality of the people down there and whereas i know there are some really nice people down there
    i don’t quite enjoy how the bad ones abuse their power/rights. This includes the border guards alright. I didn’t get shit kicked by them like you, but i did get to see them reach for their guns when i just looked at them (i chose to stay in the car). Your experience pretty much justifies my suspicions of them. Still i hope that you have success in your court case, i don’t like arrogant cops who clearly push the limits of their powers not to mention the definition of how a human being can be mistreated for no good reason (then again i am used to polite police). And by about 2010 it is probably going to be as bad down there as it is in Mexico city because of their imploded economy so i think these guys may going have their hands full with their OWN people trying to flee up here. So it doesn’t really look good for any of us up in Canada and this may be an clue that it may be time to begin returning the favor to a certain extant (as necessary)
    to them coming up here as well. Anyways good luck with your court case.
    their own p

  439. I’m disgusted by all the pigs who have commented on this blog with crap about “disobeying a lawful order” and other suchlike nonsense.

    Bottom line: You have to be a sadistic, fascist, pervert to think there is ever any excuse to assault, beat, use chemical torture agents against and kidnap a non-violent, non-criminal.

    Doing so, or attempting to rationalize doing so, evinces the belligerent, authoritarian, mindset of a brain-dead thug with the ethical faculties of a three year old, stuck in a primitive command-obedience mentality, possessing a superstitious regard for the supposed “powers” of his own badge and haberdashery, and regarding us peaceful folk as mere peons, property to be fleeced and ridden, needful of being beaten, intimidated and terrorized into submission when we get too uppity.

    All those “law enforcement officers” with this attitude can go f#&k themselves.

    Fair warning: You are currently in the process of pushing us too far, and the day of reckoning approaches.

  440. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsaw_Ghetto_Uprising

    Each individual sovereign human being must resist the jackbooted thugs. Someday no one will desire to be a bureaucrat or a jackboot or a mercenary. That day cannot come soon enough.

    There are only two types of human beings on the planet

    One type just wants everyone to leave everyone else alone

    The other type refuses to do so while they still breathe

    Starving The Monkeys,
    John and Dagny Galt
    Atlas Shrugged, Owners Manual For The Universe!(tm)

    .

  441. […] Border I noticed an increase in network traffic to the blog recently so took a closer look. What I discovered was that Peter Watts, an award-winning Canadian science fiction writer, was recently roughed up […]

  442. […] with different national custom agencies.  One science fiction writer from Canada, Peter Watts, was manhandled by United States border guards whilst crossing the Canadian border.  He apparently failed to do anything that could come off as […]

  443. […] Peter Watts, Hugo-nominated author of Blindsight, had a very bad experience at the U.S./Canadian border, and may need some legal help. His account of the incident is here. […]

  444. From Europe: we live in a real free country, not like the US.

    Sorry to say to US guys: your land is no more the land of the free, and absolutely not the land of the brave anymore.

    The US deserves a war. A war within the borders of the US. Let them know how does it feel to have a fear in your mind even after 60 years later if you dig up some metal in your own garden: is it a bomb or not ? Will it blow me and my house&family ?

    And I am very-very far from any terrorist thinking.

    I did not and will not enter that fascist state.

  445. Com’on, people, they say we are all a little ruder, but the behavior of the alternate universe morons is way over the top.

    I would donate if I could, but I hope you get some measure of justice (and maybe teach the morons a lesson.)

    Cheers,
    abc

  446. […] about Nazi Germany – “Your papers please?” – well, it was nothing like the treatment that Canadian science fiction writer Peter Watts received at the hands of US Customs and Border […]

  447. I am scared to leave the house in my own country because the police act this way. The “security professional” that directed us over to their blog for an “adult” discussion of the matter, give me a freaking break. All that told me was that you are just another military pig who thinks this kind of crap is right and good. NO, none of you should have to use force like this just because someone got out of the car. NO, you do not have the right to stomp all over the constitution to protect your personal safety. NEWSFLASH: Ya signed up for the job kids, learn to do it without being thugs. Yes, most law enforcement in the US are thugs. Unless you live in a small town, and then they’re only thugs to the tokens in the population. I will more than likely never cross a US border except to get the fuck out of here because this kind of behavior has gone on for years, and has only increased because 9-11 was the republican’s golden ticket to get the kind of totalitarian capitalist state they have wanted since the 50’s ended. I appreciate the soldiers of my country, but they don’t even need to be dying, they should have never been sent over to finish daddy’s war in the first place. You think the USA hasn’t been taken over by conservative pigs that will twist the constitution any way they can to make further excuses to bleed our country dry? I ask you to google Dick Cheney and Haliburton. Shit, watch Fox News if you can stomach it. I can’t. Shoot, I’ve gotten indigestion from watching anything on the news but weather since the idiot W got elected. Does anyone remember how shady THAT was? Gah, I am done for the rest of the day from reading this. How about all the fucking sheep get the hell out of my country so it can actually be the land of the free again? YOU are the ones letting them do this, with your bleats and your bible thumping, and your oh-my-god-I-wanted-to-carry-a-gun-and-shoot-everybody military indoctrinated bullshit. I don’t have the means currently to donate, or I would. Please take this as far as you can and roast those fuckers. I’m tired of being afraid to leave the house.

  448. I was harassed on New Years coming back into the US and my luggage torn apart and dumped into the wheel well in my trunk. I did not know until I got home. Was that necessary? Then the asshole slammed my trunk hard twice because he caught my sweater in the lock and it would not close.

    We just went accross and got pulled over by both the Canadians and then the US coming back. WTF? He wanted me to go in and complain at midnight like I have nothing better to do? What an asshole.

    We can thank Bush and his stupid adiminstration for making people cower and for every ass hole in a 50 mile radius under 40 signing up to be asshole patrol. The sign says to welcome you in to the US, yeah right.

    I refuse to not cross into Canada- I refuse to give up my freedom.

    To those of you who have never been harassed, your time is coming. They want us all shitting our pants at the site of border patrol.

    they can eat shit first

  449. This is, of course, what we have learned to expect from the USA.

    This Christmas, a known terrorist (known to the USA because British Intelligence informed their American counterparts about this individual quite clearly) tried to blow up a plane with his underpants. Of course, he had no problem gaining access to a US flight because … hey … none of the officials in the USA whose job it is to oversee this kind of thing can actually be bothered to do their job when there are real villains like SF authors around for them to assault.

    Peter, keep us posted. We’ve got to stand together against these new Nazis.

  450. I’d like to apologize on behalf of all non-fascist Americans. Our law enforcement agencies have always been horrible, that’s what you get when you pay people a measly salary to deal with criminals.

    Plus you have to take into consideration the type of people who get into that kind of work, they were usually the bullies in elementary school who decided to gain respect with a badge when they realized that no one can stand them….

    Please don’t think that all Americans are like that or that all are willing to allow that type of behavior. I’m not sure they will help a Canadian but I think it would be worth a try to get the ACLU involved. They have a very loud voice and could get this out to the mainstream media.

  451. fucking psychos, best of luck getting this sorted out without further incident, hopefull even some kind of compensation

  452. I saw you had a criminal lawyer. Do you have an immigration lawyer also? At least be thorough about investigating what immigration consequences may pertain even if you are cleared of criminal charges.

    BTW I just stumbled across the account of this contretemps b/c I read and very much liked “Blind Sight,” and was looking you up on the internet. Since I work in an immigration law office (though am not a lawyer myself) I thought I’d put my two cents in here. I’m sorry you had such a miserable experience.

  453. I surely hope your experiences of the U.S Border patrol do not change the rather Jingoistic tone of Crysis 2 -> 3 videogame story.

    Sadly what you say is true but you can’t expect the U.S to be a very enligthened country, alot of it’s own citizens get treated like 2nd class trash based on being minorities, incomes, etc.. etc..

  454. Repeat after me: Peter Watts is not writing Crysis 2. Peter Watts did not write Crysis 1

  455. I am slow to find this, but frankly, is there not anything we can do? There seem to be a lot of us here, and elsewhere on the web.

  456. C’mon Peter…..you know what really happened!!!!! You arrogant pompous Ass!!! Do not come to our country if you think our laws do not apply to you!!!

  457. Why, yes, “John”, I do know what happened. I was there. Were you?

    If so — and your IP address does put you just south of Port Huron — then perhaps I’ll see you in court with your buddies, maybe even appearing under your own name. Hopefully the lot of you will have figured out how to spell “swerve” by then.

    If not, maybe you should limit your outraged splutterings to subjects about which you actually know something. Even if that is tantamount to a vow of silence in your case.

    Either way, consider dialing back back your fetish for exclamations points. It makes you look a like a fucking eight-year-old.

  458. Zoe said:

    You realize that you can refuse a search, right? ……He was not at a border, he was at a pre-border checkpoint, which is not covered under the right-to-search laws that cover border checkpoints. …..He did NOT have to consent to a search, and they had no right to continue doing it if he did not consent……….In the case of a checkpoint there is not probable cause to suspect you of committing a crime – you are innocent, and doing them a favour by cooperating, but you DO NOT HAVE TO unless you are in very specific circumstances …..

    Zoe, you are WRONG on ALL grounds. Hopefully NO one listens to this person because he/she could get people in alot of trouble. Do not try to speak as if you know something when you do not. What are you basing your comments on….mad because your favorite author got in trouble?

  459. “Swerve”??? But anyway, I do not have any friends on the US or Canadian side of the Blue Water Bridge nor do I care to. But your reply did confirm my initial message.

    Your supporters on this site should also heed your advice: “…..limit your outraged splutterings to subjects about which you actually know something. Even if that is tantamount to a vow of silence in your case.”

    I have been following this story since I saw it in the PH paper. It is too bad IF the officers overstepped their bounds but everything is facilitated…Everything. I have nothing against you, I just do not like how everyone on this forum makes it sound as if you were an innocent participant and how the US sucks. Like another poster said, “say yes sir, no sir” then you will be gone!

  460. You know what I said about exclamation points? It applies to questions marks too.

    Some of my supporters in this thread know me personally. Others know me through me through my work or my ramblings here on this blog, which has been live for some years now. Others have had personal experience with the brownshirts at the border, and find my experiences consistent with theirs. They have empirical grounds for their opinions on my behavior. You, in contrast, didn’t know that I even existed until you read something in the Times-Herald. And sorry, but your backpeddling notwithstanding, you sure as shit do have something against me. No one uses phrases like “arrogant pompous ass” unless they’ve got some kind of hard-on up front.

    I also call bullshit on your advice to simply keep eyes down and mumble yes-sir-no-sir-how-hi-sir. No. We get to ask questions. Despite the craven unthinking servility of you and yours to anything with a badge on its nipple, we still get to do that much.

    Have a nice life.

  461. […] convingere asta, fiindcă azi-noapte am fost stupefiat să aflu că Peter Watts, care a avut un conflict cu poliţia de frontieră americană (sau mai degrabă invers, poliţia de frontieră a avut ceva cu el)  în urmă cu ceva timp (am […]

  462. […] His post after he was arrested. […]

  463. […] when he was involved in an altercation with US Border Patrol agents. According to Watts, he was beaten, left half-naked in a cold cell, and finally dumped on the Canadian side of the border with n…. A legal consultant from the Electronic Frontier Foundation was successful in helping a civil […]

  464. […] Here’s more from Peter, in his own words: “Along some other timeline, I did not get out of the car to ask what was going on. I did not […]