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”. In the words of his friend and fellow SF writer, David Nickle :
Peter, a Canadian citizen, was on his way back to Canada after helping a friend move house to Nebraska over the weekend. He was stopped at the border crossing at Port Huron, Michigan by U.S. border police for a search of his rental vehicle. When Peter got out of the car and questioned the nature of the search, the gang of border guards subjected him to a beating, restrained him and pepper sprayed him. At the end of it, local police laid a felony charge of assault against a federal officer against Peter. On Wednesday, he posted bond and walked across the border to Canada in shirtsleeves (he was released by Port Huron
officials with his car and possessions locked in impound, into a winter storm that evening). He’s home safe. For now. But he has to go back to Michigan to face the charge brought against him.
Several blogs have taken up this story, most notably Cory Doctorow over on boingboing and John Scalzi on Whatever. Compared to those two oceans this post is just a raindrop, but I’ve decided to put this up anyway, because I like Peter Watts both as a writer and as a blogger – reading his ‘crawl is so enjoyable it must be illegal, at least in the State of Michigan. Also, because the perspective of going through what he did just for crossing a border – in this day and age – scares the hell outta me.
I’ve donated some of my cold hard cash to go towards his legal defence fund – it’s the least I can do after reading his books for free. That’s right, you’ll find all of his books freely available to download on his site.Read them, copy them, send them to your friends. I’m sure Peter wouldn’t mind. Here’s a donation link to the backlist page on Peter’s website.