Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

The Watts Incident

I hope that by now most of the people on my friends list have heard of the Peter Watts Incident. Watts, a Hugo Award-nominated writer, was detained and charged with assaulting Customs & Border Patrol Agents as he was returning to Canada. (Yes, CBP agents do apparently sometimes inspect people leaving the USA.) The Port Huron Times-Herald has what amounts to the CBP's version of events here and here.

Many of the places I've seen people writing about this, there have been those jumping into the fray with versions of, "He must have deserved it because the CBP said so." Well, no, not necessarily. You aren't guilty just because someone in a uniform says you are. And I'm very skeptical of the CBP's reported version of the story (as filtered through the Times-Herald) right off the bat because the story gets a basic fact (the direction of Watts' travel) wrong. That raises all sorts of red flags to me. While getting one fact wrong doesn't necessarily invalidate the others, it does in my mind require closer scrutiny of the others.

I was sufficiently moved by this to register for some of the sites where the discussion is happening and to post several comments on the Port Huron stories. If I sound angry in my comments, that's because I am. If Peter's story is even half-true, it's a further example of the deterioration of the rule of law in this country, being slowly replaced by a rule of arbitrary individuals who, because they wear uniforms and can say "9/11! Terrorism! Security!" have managed to terrorize the population into subservience and ritual humiliation. I'm as bad as anyone else, because I have to travel by air regularly, and have learned how to tug the forelock at the TSA.

As I've said elsewhere, as a white, male, native-born American with a family pedigree stretching back before the founding of the USA, it's relatively unlikely that I'll ever run afoul of the CBP. I don't meet their profile, mostly. I know how to act meek and quiet and answer their tick-box questions the way they want to hear them. But that makes it that much more incumbent upon me to protest when incidents like this happen, lest there be nobody to speak for me when the Security Police comes for me.
Tags: peter watts, politics

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