Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Outrages Are Outrageous!

Thanks to Rhodopsin for tipping me off to this tidbit: last Tuesday (12/8), the Canadian sci-fi writer Peter Watts got a little out of line with border patrol, and was brutalized out of all proportion for it. (other sources)

Now, I don't know if anyone told this guy, but the police run on authoritarian dick-waving. That goes double for border patrol, who imagine themselves the defenders of Our Glorious Nation against foreign threats. Sci-fi writers aren't exactly high up on the list, as foreign threats go, but creative types in general tend to have a problem with bowing to authority for its own sake, especially of the dick-waving variety. But the people who pursue power tend to be the people who want it, and provoking such types is usually risky business as they are wont to exercise said power at the slightest provocation - such as a foreign writer asking police why they're searching his vehicle.

What we have here, you see, is a misunderstanding: Watts, reasonably enough, didn't seem to understand that when an officer of the law wants to search your vehicle, the officer gets what the officer wants whether you like it or not. This makes no sense, but it's how things work. Watts also didn't seem to understand that disobeying a direct order from a police officer, such as "return to your vehicle immediately," is a crime. Could he have been justifiably cuffed and hauled in to station, at great embarrassment and perhaps some minor financial expense? Sure.

Should he have been beaten, maced, and then dumped over the border after posting bail with no coat or vehicle during the first major storm of the season, only to be charged with felony assault by his assailants? Hell fuck no!

OK, so now the tables have turned and it's border patrol who's out of line. In order to do things like not lose all of his everything and send the message that This Shit Won't Fly, Watts needs about three metric boat-loads of cash. He has maybe a quarter of a metric boat-load of cash at present, being the critically acclaimed but not really all that popular author that he is. So if you have some extra scratch lying around, you can make a PayPal payment to donate@rifters.com, or send a check in the mail to Peter Watts. He's made his books free on the internet, so you could download them and donate the money you'd save.

Actually, I remember being intrigued by his Rifters books ever since I read Anatomy of a Rifter some years ago... I think I'll toss a twenty his way with a Christmas download and finally take a look at what he's got to say. Rhodopsin, remind me if I forget, because this is important to me.

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