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.
That’s apparently all it takes to get a Canadian science fiction writer assaulted and thrown into jail these days for going home. And yes, before you ask, everybody wants to know why the U.S. Border Patrol was frisky enough to be stopping people returning to Canada. They certainly have that option, but they exercise it rarely enough that most people don’t know they can.
Boing Boing has the information on how to contribute to Dr. Watts’ legal defense fund. Emma Bull points out that even very small donations add up. She also notes:
In Canada, if the same thing happened, we could have just asked the customs agent, who would likely have told us, “We search all rental cars.” We could have done exactly what Watts did, and got nothing worse than an answer.
Don’t tell me Watts should have known better. He’s a free, law-abiding citizen of a free country, who has a right to believe in the rule of law and reasonable behavior in the nation right next to his. If you tell me he asked for it, he deserved it, what happened to him was justified by his actions, I swear I will ban you from this goddamn journal. Because that could have been any of us.
Everyone involved in this crime who was wearing a uniform should go to jail. They’ve brought shame on my country and on my justice system.
I’ll let Emma speak for me on this one.