Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Sci-Fi Author Peter Watts Beaten, Charged During Border Crossing

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the canadian-writers-are-a-threat-to-freedom-eh dept.

Sci-Fi 1079

JoeGee writes "On December 8th, Canadian sci-fi author Peter Watts, author of the Rifters trilogy and Blindsight, was crossing the US/Canadian border at Port Huron, Michigan 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 no coat. A legal consultant from the Electronic Frontier Foundation was successful in helping a civil rights lawyer in Michigan free Watts. Watts faces US charges of assaulting a federal officer. Based on the accounts, one can assume Watts did so by hitting the officer's hand with his face. If convicted, Watts faces two years in a US Federal prison."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Wow, (4, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409214)

They should give the border patrol the Nobel Peace Prize for keeping America safe.

Re:Wow, (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409242)

They should give the border patrol the Nobel Peace Prize for keeping America safe.

This probably is a horrible abuse of power... but you never know with these things.

To quote Babylon 5:

"Truth is a three-edged sword. One side is your truth, the other side is their truth, and the third side is the truth."

I'd like more information.

Re:Wow, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409256)

They should give the border patrol the Nobel Peace Prize for keeping America safe.

Well, he's certainly done more than Barack Obama.

Troops still in Iraq? Yep?

More troops in Afghanistan? Yep.

Open Letter (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409338)

To the idiots this concerns:

How do you honestly expect Obama to pull all of the troops out of Iraq with the snap of his finger? It took us years to get all the soldiers and all that crap over there, its gonna take us years to get it back. (Thousands of vehichles, shipping containers, etc etc etc).

And good Ole Afghanistan. IIRC Obama called Afghanistan the justifiable war in his campaign. I don't recall him promising to pull us out of either of these countries in the first year.

So all of you people need to get your heads out of your rears and fucking quit trying to be little bitches.

Re:Open Letter (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409476)


I believe the point people are making is that if US troops are still mired in the mess that is Afghanistan and if the Middle East is still seething with anti-American hatred because of their occupation of Iraq, why exactly is this guy getting a Nobel prize for peace? It looks, and is, a political gift, not a recognition of achievement.

Misunderstanding the office of the president as being some supreme determinator of US policy is a mistake anyway. The President is the most visible of a group of people that determine what path the US takes politically, but not some sort of one-man policy machine.
Now the US is trying its best to hold back Israel from kicking off a war with Iran, and for that they get my respect (even if it is just sanity on their part). But I fail to see what Obama has done to earn a Nobel peace prize.

Re:Open Letter (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409646)

But I fail to see what Obama has done to earn a Nobel peace prize.

He made the Norwegian leftists on the Nobel committee wet with the anticipation of what he might do?

Re:Wow, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409268)

Teh Nobbel peace prize is only given to people who did not do anything and promize LOLChange.
That's why my used car seller will never get one - he does at least sell used cars.

Re:Wow, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409558)

Apparently, they are still operating like W/neo-cons is in charge and not Obama.

Charges... (3, Interesting)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409230)

So, did they just forget about the other mandatory bullshit charge, resisting arrest?

Re:Charges... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409254)

Fuck the Police!

Re:Charges... (0)

sfled (231432) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409604)

Fuck the Police!

I FTP every day.

Re:Charges... (4, Insightful)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409294)

I love it (sarcastically) when I hear a guy's only crime was resisting arrest. On what basis was the arrest being made in the first place? Resisting arrest, of course!

Re:Charges... (5, Funny)

ddegirmenci (1644853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409342)

That actually gave me the idea that I might, somehow, be able to cause a stack overflow in the police. I guess I'll be trying that the next time I'm arrested...

Re:Charges... (5, Insightful)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409574)

Other forms of "resisting arrest":
  • Not falling down fast enough after being struck or tasered.
  • Being pushed by an officer into another officer.
  • Placing or tapping your index finger ever so gently on the officer's shoulder.
  • Cursing at the officer so that the officer's feelings are hurt.
  • Having an epileptic seizure or heart attack during arrest.
  • Not bending like a blade of grass when the officer attempts to wrap your limbs into a pretzel shape.
  • Not knowing the language or not understanding the officers commands.
  • Failing to produce a state issued ID card.
  • Uttering the phrase "I won't answer your questions; I want to speak to a lawyer".

Put him away... (-1, Troll)

gardel999 (1691708) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409236)

If he assaulted the federal officer, he deserves what he gets. Being a "sci-fi author" doesn't give him the right to break the law.

Re:Put him away... (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409252)

I think I'd like to hear both sides of the story before I decide. Everyone who gets into an altercation with any sort of law enforcement officer always claims "I was like so totalllly innocent, dude!"

first reports are often wrong (5, Funny)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409302)

on the other hand, this may be another victory in the war on tourism.

Re:Put him away... (3, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409310)

Everyone who gets into an altercation with any
              sort of law enforcement officer always claims
              "I was like so totalllly innocent, dude!"

apparently you haven't seen the video of a bart police officer shooting in the back a man who was being held face down on the ground by other officers, or the more recent case where a bart police officer grabbed someone [who did need to be taken off the train], walked the poor guy across the platform and smashed a glass barrier with the guy's face.

it is incidents like these that make me less likely to believe the law enforcement officer's side of the story.

Re:Put him away... (2, Insightful)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409416)

in the blue corner it's "hasty generalisation" weighing in at zero examples and in the red corner it's "the opposite hasty generalisation" weighing in at two anecdotes! ding ding! round one!

Re:Put him away... (1)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409448)

The opposite hasty generalization? A couple posts upstream someone said, "I think I'd like to hear both sides of the story before I decide." Is that the same as, "He must've deserved it"?

Re:Put him away... (1, Insightful)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409464)

apparently you haven't seen the video of a bart police officer shooting in the back a man who was being held face down on the ground by other officers, or the more recent case where a bart police officer grabbed someone [who did need to be taken off the train], walked the poor guy across the platform and smashed a glass barrier with the guy's face.

The BART shooting incident appears to have been incompetence in that the officer thought he pulled his taser. You'd have to be pretty brazen to shoot on purpose while surrounded by the public. The cop that threw the guy at the wall probably didn't realize that the glass would break. The guy was resisting and trying to attack the cop.

Re:Put him away... (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409576)

apparently you haven't seen the video of a bart police officer shooting in the back a man who was being held face down on the ground by other officers, or the more recent case where a bart police officer grabbed someone [who did need to be taken off the train], walked the poor guy across the platform and smashed a glass barrier with the guy's face.

The BART shooting incident appears to have been incompetence in that the officer thought he pulled his taser. You'd have to be pretty brazen to shoot on purpose while surrounded by the public. The cop that threw the guy at the wall probably didn't realize that the glass would break. The guy was resisting and trying to attack the cop.

The first cop had to be pretty damn stupid to not distinguish a gun from a taser, while the second cop should be up on charges (GLWT) - who cares if the barrier is gonna break?

Re:Put him away... (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409634)

The cop that threw the guy at the wall probably didn't realize that the glass would break. The guy was resisting and trying to attack the cop.

Actually, that nut job punched the glass.

Re:Put him away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409642)

So it's OK to assault someone with a taser who is being held down and it's fine to smash someone's face but not glass?

You, yes You, are a symptom of a sick society.

Re:Put him away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409314)

Well, that's only because I was!!!!

Re:Put him away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409492)

The guards at Port Huron are not cool. I have had problems with them in the past.
This should not be treated as an isolated incident.

Re:Put him away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409516)

I think I'd like to hear both sides of the story before I decide.

Hi, you must be new here...

Re:Put him away... (5, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409526)


When an unarmed man alone gets into a fight with multiple armed people, it's a rare case where the unarmed man is the aggressor.

Re:Put him away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409544)

I was like so totalllly innocent, dude!

Is that you Ronnie Dobbs?

Re:Put him away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409554)

Surely one of the survelliance cameras will have footage of Watts assaulting an officer... or five.

Right?

And, you may want to be careful how you answer when asked the question "Did you touch the officer?" Based on my close friend's experience who spent the night at the local police station after standing between a man who was assaulting a 14-year old and his victim (who was being seemingly kidnapped), a touch counts as assault. Turned out the man was an off duty officer who later filed assault charges. The kid was screaming with pain on a city street and trying to get away from the man.

Happily posting as AC. This is a police state already.

Re:Not the First Time (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409620)

Apparently border officers like to beat people up.

http://articles.latimes.com/2004/jul/30/world/fg-tianjin30

Re:Put him away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409260)

most federal officers should be beaten. you should probably have the shit kicked out of you too

Re:Put him away... (3, Insightful)

Zibri (1063838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409278)

If you consider the border patrols trustworthy, sure. I don't. I'd bet the only "crime" Peter Watts committed was of arguing back.

an alert border patrol officer (1, Insightful)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409316)

prevented the millennial bomber. No small thing.

Re:an alert border patrol officer (2, Insightful)

busonerd (534486) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409466)

Alert != abusive

Beating and throwing someone in jail on a charge like this doesn't protect anybody.

Re:an alert border patrol officer (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409540)

prevented the millennial bomber. No small thing.

So, you're saying Watts was going to bomb the US? Because that's what your logic implies.

Re:an alert border patrol officer (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409588)

Let's have some intellectual honesty, shall we? GP is obviously not implying that Watts was going to bomb the US. Why would you even say that? It ruins the conversation.

What he is saying is that not all border patrol people are untrustworthy. He is saying you can't just assume the agent is wrong because he is an agent. He is saying it IS a good idea to hear both sides of the story before coming to judgement. Now, I am sure if you had thought about his comment for a while, you would have understood this and wouldn't have resorted to weird tangents.

Now, your underlying point seems to be that Watts is a nice guy, so we should trust him. I don't actually know anything about him other than he is an author, and I've known enough dick-head authors to say that doesn't guarantee that he was on the right side of this situation. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. But if you have a reason to assume that he is, for example if you have personal knowledge of the character of Watts, you should say it instead of coming up with some weird distraction from the conversation.

of course not (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409612)

I am just saying that you can't tar the entire border patrol with one brush. sheesh.

Re:an alert border patrol officer (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409578)

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

He dared.... (5, Insightful)

Yo_mama (72429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409332)

In a mature society, "civil servant" is semantically equal to "civil master." - Robert Heinlein

Re:Put him away... (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409330)

It seems he didn't. Looks like he was being delayed at the checkpoint, got out of the car to ask what was going on, the officer told him to get back in the car, and instead asked a question. Now, when a police officer is in a situation like that, he usually likes to have complete control of the situation (understandable, since sometimes they end up dead when things get out of control). If he feels like you are trying to take control, things can escalate quickly. It would have been better for our author friend to instead get back in the car.

Now, from what I've read, it seems the border patrol escalated quickly and unnecessarily. In tense situations that can happen. It basically sucked to be Peter Watts at that moment.

Also it's worth noting that in some jurisdictions, assault doesn't have to be physical, it can be verbal. So if you do end up in a similar situation, the best thing is to be calm and acquiescent in the moment, and then sue the hell out of them later.

Re:Put him away... (2, Insightful)

Tawnos (1030370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409542)

In all jurisdictions, assault is *never* physical. The moment something becomes physical it is "battery."

Assault is the threat of committing harm. Battery is the carrying out of that threat.

Re:Put him away... (4, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409598)

Now, when a police officer is in a situation like that, he usually likes to have complete control of the situation (understandable, since sometimes they end up dead when things get out of control).

This is a common myth. Police officers are *rarely* killed on the job. And border guards? I'm sure it must happen, but it seems it must be exceptionally rare in their case. But somehow that's given as an excuse when they beat the shit out of someone for *daring* to ask a question.

If he feels like you are trying to take control, things can escalate quickly.

"Take control"? The border guards have fucking guns. More to the point, they beat and imprisoned the guy. Even further, they can press charges against him. What did he do? Asked a question? HOW DARE HE!

It would have been better for our author friend to instead get back in the car.

No, it would have been much, much worse. The worst thing one can do in the face of fascism is to acquiesce. Worst thing for society, specifically. Whether backing down or not was something he should do personally depends on how much he cares about personal liberty and what exactly he did. If all he did was ask a question, I can't see any way in which he should have known better.

Also it's worth noting that in some jurisdictions, assault doesn't have to be physical, it can be verbal. So if you do end up in a similar situation, the best thing is to be calm and acquiescent in the moment, and then sue the hell out of them later.

Shit, in some cases, assault can be a dirty look. But you're right, the best thing to do is be a good little slave and bow to your masters...

Re:Put him away... (1)

BoberFett (127537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409424)

Those damn sci-fi authors. You know the type. Big burly guys, lots of leather, gnarly facial hair, riding around on their "motorcycles" and causing trouble. I say throw the book at him.

he has nothing to fear (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409286)

He back in Canada, do u think he would come back to the states to face charge? if they try to extradite him I'm sure the Canadian judge will laugh in the US face for wasting the courts time.

Searching for 'Watt, charged' pun (1)

trickyrickb (910871) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409292)

I'm struggling, but don't worry when i get it, it'll be electric

Re:Searching for 'Watt, charged' pun (2, Funny)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409318)

I for one am shocked.

Re:Searching for 'Watt, charged' pun (1)

trickyrickb (910871) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409384)

You've got potential!

Re:Searching for 'Watt, charged' pun (2, Funny)

trickyrickb (910871) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409334)

infact once i get one, they'll be a whole battery of them to follow

Re:Searching for 'Watt, charged' pun (5, Funny)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409440)

watt charged with resistance

Re:Searching for 'Watt, charged' pun (5, Funny)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409494)

Maybe they thought that he'd stolen some precious joules.

Assault on an Agent... (4, Informative)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409304)

What most people don't realize is ANY "unwanted" contact with any officer or agent of a government entity is assault. Tapping them on the shoulder when they're yelling at your friend would constitute assault on an officer. Something as innocent as brushing the agent's hand away would provoke that charge, which I suspect is the case here.

Wake up people, our laws are broken.

Re:Assault on an Agent... (2, Insightful)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409362)

Wake up people, our laws are broken.

That's a very ambiguous statement. Cool.

Re:Assault on an Agent... (3, Insightful)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409378)

Actually, you're thinking battery of an Agent, which is unwanted contact of any form, including brushing their hand away when they're punching you. Assault is anything that makes them think you might batter them, such as shaking your fist or raising your voice.

Re:Assault on an Agent... (3, Informative)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409638)

Assault is anything that makes them think you might batter them, such as shaking your fist or raising your voice.

Don't forget fending off punches, baton strikes, or kicks. That's definitely assault.

Let's not leap to conclusions. (4, Insightful)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409306)

It sounds like the facts aren't all in yet, so let's not leap to conclusions. We're hearing the account of Cory Doctorow -- who in his novel "Little Brother" had an obvious axe to grind against Homeland Security and law enforcement, to the point of suggesting "9/11 was an inside job". (Says one of the leaflets dropped by the novel's heroic protesters.) We're also hearing second-hand from Watts and the other people in the car. We're not yet hearing the guards' account. Maybe Doctorow et. al. are completely right, but let's not assume so right off the bat, eh?

The Doctorow account quotes Watts saying that he got out of his car when questioned (mistake #1), then refused the order to get back in (mistake #2). No, of course that doesn't justify a beating. It just suggests we don't have the whole story.

Re:Let's not leap to conclusions. (5, Insightful)

IICV (652597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409374)

The Doctorow account quotes Watts saying that he got out of his car when questioned (mistake #1), then refused the order to get back in (mistake #2). No, of course that doesn't justify a beating. It just suggests we don't have the whole story.

Sorry, absolutely nothing justifies a beating. The only two options are either A. Arrest the man or B. Let him go. "Beat him" is not acceptable under any circumstances whatsoever.

Re:Let's not leap to conclusions. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409496)

Sorry, absolutely nothing justifies a beating.

Especially when it comes to beating your wife, which I can only assume you're not still doing.

(And I really hope my point wasn't lost amid my subtlety.)

Re:Let's not leap to conclusions. (1)

muffel (42979) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409570)

(And I really hope my point wasn't lost amid my subtlety.) It was.

Re:Let's not leap to conclusions. (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409514)

Sorry, absolutely nothing justifies a beating. The only two options are either A. Arrest the man or B. Let him go. "Beat him" is not acceptable under any circumstances whatsoever.

Not to mention that once the cops have pepper sprayed someone, the last thing on that person's mind will be "let's fight."

Re:Let's not leap to conclusions. (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409586)

Sorry, absolutely nothing justifies a beating. The only two options are either A. Arrest the man or B. Let him go.

Yes, because we all know how cooperative everyone becomes when they are told they are being arrested. Or are you suggesting that if option A doesn't result in passive cooperation on the part of the arrestee that option B happens? Cool!

"I say, chap, I'm putting you under arrest." "No, bean, I don't think I want to be arrested." "Very well then, off you go. Have a nice day."

As for the next responder's comment about pepper spray and how "everybody reacts", you haven't seen many people pepper sprayed, have you? For some people, it doesn't shut them down, it makes them madder.

Re:Let's not leap to conclusions. (5, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409392)

who in his novel "Little Brother" had an obvious axe to grind against Homeland Security and law enforcement

Him and millions of other people who realize that a posted sign saying "Don't hijack the plane" would be about as effective and far less annoying than homeland security.

Re:Let's not leap to conclusions. (1)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409472)

My point is: would you accept at face value, without even needing to hear Homeland Security's side, the account of a guy who is known for being particularly vocal about the evils of Homeland Security?

Re:Let's not leap to conclusions. (1)

Samgilljoy (1147203) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409408)

True, it's not like a car full of middle-aged, affluent men have never griefed some guy with a lousy job, because they felt entitled to less inconvenience.

Re:Let's not leap to conclusions. (2, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409412)

The Doctorow account quotes Watts saying that he got out of his car when questioned (mistake #1), then refused the order to get back in (mistake #2). No, of course that doesn't justify a beating. It just suggests we don't have the whole story.

Why does it suggest that?

If you take it as a given that a large number of border patrol officers are gigantic dicks given excessive amounts of power with little oversight, with victims who are essentially powerless, with almost no access to legal representation, then it adds up just fine with no additional information.

Based on my experiences crossing the US-Canada border (either way) I can take that as a given.

Re:Let's not leap to conclusions. (1)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409536)

Why? Because it's possible -- not saying it's true yet, mind you -- that just maybe the guards thought Watts was dangerous. And by Watts' own admission he first broke protocol for dealing with border guards (by getting out of the car), then violated a direct order by a law enforcement officer. So to leap without further evidence to the conclusion that the officers were being "gigantic dicks given excessive amounts of power" requires that you don't care what the guards thought was happening.

It's interesting to compare this incident to the "flying imams" event a few years back. I've read the police report of that, citing multiple passengers' and crewmembers' testimony. Should we have heard early articles saying "a couple of Muslims were thrown off a plane!" and said no more evidence is necessary; it's clearly the work of abusive, racist, anti-Muslim guards? (And no, I don't have reason to think Watts was nearly as alarming as the imams.)

Re:Let's not leap to conclusions. (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409572)

"If you take it as a given that a large number of border patrol officers are gigantic dicks "

why is it you would take that as a given but fail to believe this guy with an axe to grind isn't a huge dick himself? this form of selective hearing people seem to have is whats wrong with the world.

I've crossed many borders many times including the US, and it've never had a single problem. you know why? because i don't act like an asshole the moment one of these guys tries to do his job. i've been scanned, sniffed, searched the whole lot and the grand total time in 10 years of travel that this has cost me wouldn't be more then 1 hour tops.

next time some over worked under paid public servant stops you and asks to look in your bag, how about you try being polite, smiling ask them how their day is going and say thanks have a nice day when they are done? i'd bet money that's not what this guy did...

Re:Let's not leap to conclusions. (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409470)

Aha. Maybe he just did what he had to do: Maybe he had the trunk full of plutonium, illegal child laborers wearing suicide vests or whatever and two years for an assault charge seemed like a bargain all things considered? So his devious plan was to make these basic "mistakes" to foil the law. Seems about as plausible as the bizarre notion of a hair triggered, power abusing, violence prone border guard going off like a maniac. At least it will in a court of law - he's totally screwed.

Re:Let's not leap to conclusions. (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409648)

Is your sig meant to be ironic?

[post in favor of beating someone for getting out of his car, asking a question, then not getting back into his car]
--
Revive the Constitution

I'm entirely inclined to believe Watts (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409324)

We visited Canada this summer and our experience with the US border patrol when we were returning home leads me to entirely believe the story as told by Watts. I've honestly had better and more pleasant experiences with the East German border patrol in the mid-80s.

Re:I'm entirely inclined to believe Watts (4, Insightful)

HBI (604924) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409622)

I agree. I found the US-Canada border in particular to be the home of the most unimpressive border guards I have seen, though to be honest, Homeland Security personnel in general are unimpressive. Rude, nasty, undereducated and morally/ethically small people abound in those uniforms. Not a fucking 'welcome home' to be heard from this bunch.

I come from a family full of cops, I work daily with actual combatant US soldiers and have immense respect for them, but seeing these Homeland Security pricks from their various ill-run agencies acting as officers of the United States makes me want to vomit. The whole organization needs to be deconstructed and re-imagined in some kind of intelligent form.

Something stinks here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409352)

...but I'm not sure what.

The initial interaction with the officers was most likely his own damn fault. Getting out of the car uninvited is an aggressive act. How were the officers to know whether or not he was a threat. Moreover, the guy is STILL upset and self-righteous over it, so I'd bet that at the time, he wasn't exactly calm and level-headed, either.

But his account of the following hours? There's more to the story that we aren't being told. Frankly, I'm calling bullshit.

Re:Something stinks here... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409434)

Walking into a public police station is an aggressive act. The member of the public may be carrying a lethal threat to the officers inside the station, and therefore should be detained and strip searched immediately. It's for the officers' safety, they cannot know what kind of weapons that person possesses. Any resistance should be due cause for an arrest, the police have a hard enough job already.

Re:Something stinks here... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409506)

Getting out of the car uninvited is an aggressive act

Sorry, getting out of a car is an aggressive act?!?!

_GETTING OUT OF A FUCKING CAR_ ?!?!?!?!??!

Sig Heil, you fucking fascist.

The other side? (0)

anyaristow (1448609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409356)

Of course, being a sci fi geek he wouldn't have an inflated opinion of himself and a problem with authority, would he? He wouldn't have, say, raised his voice and shoved an officer, and gotten belligerent when they tried to restrain him, right? Of course he didn't resist arrest, did he?

Just imagining the story as I might hear it from someone in fandom...something about just going to help some orphans when for no reason some officer yanks 'em out of their car and beats 'em up...

Re:The other side? (1)

B Nesson (1153483) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409610)

Of course he didn't resist arrest, did he?

If only we had some kind of charge we could bring against someone who resisted arrest... Hmmm...

Give us your poor, your tired, (1)

Snufu (1049644) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409368)

your huddled masses longing to be free.
But you SF authors better stay the fuck out!

Always the same story... (3, Insightful)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409372)

Look guys, this is the same story we hear over and over again. First we need to hear the side of the border guards; secondly, always assume that government officials are assholes. Do what they ask, obey their orders, don't be a smartass - as a result, you will generally speaking be OK.

If you talk back, disobey orders and give them a hard time, crap like this will most likely happen to you because you escalate the situation and make the lives of people who already have miserable jobs more miserable. That's not an excuse, but don't be surprised when stuff like this happens.

Re:Always the same story... (3, Insightful)

nathan.fulton (1160807) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409518)

I find it sort of ironic that the people who are most convinced that cops are corrupt power-mongering jerks tend to be the most likely to put themselves into a contentious position with police.

Most of the time, if you see a person who you this is Bad and Has A Gun, you would tend to stay out of their way.

Re:Always the same story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409582)

Um, no.

How about I stand up for my human rights. You? You can do what ever you want.

I just don't go to the US anymore. It's dangerous, not because I stand up for my own rights, but because people like You let these guys do crap like this.

Disgusting.

Re:Always the same story... (1)

B Nesson (1153483) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409650)

Yeah, don't be surprised if you're pepper-sprayed and dumped in a winter storm with no coat, left to fend for yourself because you hurt someone's feelings. You should know better.

Why Is This Story On Slashdot At All??!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409376)

Wow, a story about a third-rate,barely heard of sci-fi author is news for nerds??

Doing a simple search of slashdot yields nothing about Peter Watts, why is anything that happens to him relevant to slashdot readers?

I suspect this is just red meat for the typical angry "Fuck the police", authority-hating responses. Its certainly valid in some cases, but I can't think of any reason why the editors are encouraging this with such a flimsy story.

Re:Why Is This Story On Slashdot At All??!! (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409626)

"I suspect this is just red meat for the typical angry "Fuck the police", authority-hating responses."

Of course. All authority is bad and an interference with humankinds natural state of perfect lovingkindness.

This guy writes fiction for a living (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409380)

Let's wait for some actual facts, please, before lionizing this guy as a victim.

PS - Government police forces are supported by taxes. Quit voting for the guys who want to raise your taxes if you don't want government thugs to beat you up.

When I travel to the US I travel in fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409382)

Not only am I raped over $40 in fees just to cross your petty border. You Americans must protect your tourism industry and stop this harassment.

Reason for Charge (2, Informative)

nathan.fulton (1160807) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409406)

Since quite a few are asking, I figured I'd provide the pertinent sections of TFAs.

According to an update in the Boing Boing article, Watts got out of the car to ask what was happening -- presumably because his car and/or person was being searched. When the officers refused to answer and told him to get back in the car, he asked the question again. At which point he was attacked, his property was seized, and he was asked to waive his Miranda rights.

Sounds like the unfortunate combination of a pissed off officer and a less-that-sympathetic citizen compounded by detectives/officers who get pissed when prisoners refuse to talk. I can empathize with both parties (first and second, not third -- right to remain silent means right to remain silent,) but -- assuming the accuracy of Watts' story -- the assault charge is probably trumped up. Convincing a judge of that is a whole different story.

I'm glad /. finally got this (4, Informative)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409420)

I got a tweet about this earlier today.

I can't wait to hear what really happened here. It's wouldn't be so outlandish if Watts' version of the story is entirely true, especially with the number of police beatings that get online where the exact same thing has happened (i.e. someone not resisting at all, getting beaten up, and then charged with resisting arrest).

Over 10 years ago now, Indianapolis had the infamous "police street brawl" incident where a group of off duty drunk policemen went around picking fights with guys and harassing women in down town Indianapolis. Everyone that tried to protect women in that situation ended up in jail with a bunch of bruises on resisting arrest charges. I don't believe even one of the cases ever made it to court. Still the police union backed their boys to the very end. I believe they even called the mayor a commie at one point...

Both Sides... (0, Troll)

Dausha (546002) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409426)

Okay, so there are two sides to the story; and the only thing published is a fiction writers. Judging from his blog, there are a lot of people looking for an excuse to be sorry to be American. Here I get to play the other side, who won't say anything because that's the appropriate thing.

He got out of the car during a border crossing, obviously without instruction from law enforcement. That he was half-naked suggests something of the state he was in before he precipitated the altercation. Without video, there's nothing to say he didn't take a swing at the law enforcement, who responded in kind. You never get out of the car when stopped by law enforcement without their explicit say so. There was a time when you could do that; but we've had enough criminals who have attacked that the cops can't take chances. By getting out of the car and refusing to return, he precipitated this event.

Sorry, no sympathy.

Re:Both Sides... (1)

pixelfish (122467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409654)

Er....just to clarify the construction of your statement "That he was half-naked suggests something of the state he was in before he precipitated the altercation." It seems to state that Peter Watts (disclosure: I see him once a year during a writing event and would call him friend) was half-naked prior to exiting the vehicle and prior to the altercation. It is my understanding that the "half-naked" came after he was bailed out and released--the border guards seemed to think they needed his coat as evidence.

'course, it's just me, but ejecting somebody from your precincts into a wintery night isn't the most humane thing to do, so I guess that may be prejudicing my view that they acted with all due restraint.

We don't know if there was instruction from law enforcement or not, since it's not specifically in Peter's account. But it's not unheard of for officers to ask people to exit the vehicle while being searched. When my boyfriend's vehicle was searched at the US border, they asked us to exit the vehicle once we were informed. (I think this was because they didn't want us grabbing any potential evidence and trying to hide it or get rid of it.

not clear on where he was (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409428)

I'm not clear on exactly where he was. The articles really don't do a very good job of describing what happened. At the border crossings I am familiar with, there is no barrier on leaving the US. There's a place where you can park and go in if you have some business there (e.g. notifying them that you're leaving the US at the end of a limited term stay), but there is no place where you pull up and are asked questions. Of course, they can close off the lane if they are looking for a fugitive or something, but in normal circumstances you just drive right on through to the Canadian side. So, was he singled out for some reason and pulled over as he left the US?

This is who we are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409456)

I thought everyone knew not to trust Peter Watts [wikipedia.org] .

It'd be nice if slashdot feigned some fairness (1)

ugen (93902) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409474)

If slashdot was ran by people without (obvious) agenda, perhaps the headline could read:
"Sci-Fi Author Peter Watts Claims To Be Beaten, Charged During Border Crossing".

Other than that - all is well, though I am ready to bet that either there was more to this story or less. I.e. either he actually did something, for example being a douche and claiming he is a famous sci-fi writer and has a right to cross borders without being searched, certainly his hysterical blog post lends credence to this idea), or perhaps he wasn't beaten and left "half naked" (did the border guards seize his clothes?).

In any case,there is definitely additional information that needs to come to light, and it'd be nice if slashdot did not claim a post of offended party to be statement of fact.

Boarder Security (4, Insightful)

inhuman_4 (1294516) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409502)

As a Canadian I will never understand why the US is so eager about its boarder security with Canada.

Take a look at a map of North America, we share a huge boarder. If some one wanted to get across undetected, they would go to Calgary, Edmonton, etc. Buy/Rent a off-road vehicle and just drive in across some open fields. It's not hard to figure out.

Boarder security at major ports of entry just pisses everyone off and hurts trade. The most they are going to catch are some teenagers buying pot and Canadian beer. The only real threat at the CAN/US boarder is people bringing handguns into Canada (where they are illegal) and selling them to Toronto street gangs.

Now they are giving a middle aged white guy a hard time? Please, this security theatre has gone too far.

Re:Boarder Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30409580)

The only real threat at the CAN/US boarder is people bringing handguns into Canada (where they are illegal) and selling them to Toronto street gangs.

Wait, handguns are illegal in Canada? I was led to believe that making them illegal would bring about a drastic increase in violent crime, as "Only criminals will have guns". Can you help convince our government to do that too?

Health Coverage? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409564)

I can't help but wonder about Canadian Health Coverage verses American Health Coverage. Maybe being Renditioned to Canada was the wiser result? Also, this event makes me think that the movie, "Born in East L.A." is proving to be not so whimsical after all.

Bad for Tourism (0)

fyoder (857358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409616)

Even under the Obama administration the message to foreigners still seems to be stay away or risk getting beaten and generally abused.

hmmm (1)

MagicM (85041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409636)

inb4 not your personal army

Hey... (1)

aka_butters (1055028) | more than 4 years ago | (#30409658)

I live in Port Huron, funny to see that as the head line today...
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?