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Peter Watts, Reloaded

Thanks to uplinktruck , I was attuned to this latest addendum in the ongoing saga of Canadian science-fiction author Peter Watts:

A March 16 jury trial has been scheduled for a 51-year-old Toronto author charged with assaulting a Customs and Border Protection officer Dec. 8.

Commentary on the original event (from Watts, Cory Doctorow and numerous others) has gone positively viral, further clouding the blogosphere with flurries of indignant outrage.  I weighed in and offered what I hoped was a real-world perspective on the events as reported by Peter Watts himself and was surprised by the response.  Re-reading my own remarks, I am quick to characterize my tone as somewhat heavy-handed (although uplinktruck  disagrees).  My own upset was occasioned not by any personal animosity toward Peter himself (or delight at his misfortune) but rather by the quasi-hysteria force-fed into the furnace by so many ivory tower-types who have never worn a uniform, stood a post, been involved in a critical incident or arrested anyone in their lives. 

I should have known better than to pop their self-righteous balloons.  From now on, I'll save the reality checks for my short stories.

Upon revisiting the issue, I thought: Peter's in a pickle.  He deserves our sympathy.  Standing before a Circuit Court judge is no fun.  I said as much in my exchange with the Truck-Meister before adding that I suspected "a good deal of cultural elitism [might be] involved. After all - big time sci-fi authors are decidedly educated and upper-middle-class, while the stupid proles who defend national borders are just misguided puppets of the military-industrial complex. Too stupid to know better, they should have shut up and taken orders from their elders and betters. Good help is hard to find, eh?"

Then, in the interest of fairness, I winged over to Peter's blog to get his version.

His characterization of the judge forced to postpone proceedings due to medical issues:

Same judge as before, so whatever laid him low the first time around was obviously closer to the bad-burrito end of the scale.

His characterization of border security personnel:

... littermate of last December’s Brotherhood of the Baton (21 Jan) ... belligerent dead-eyed stereotypes (25 Jan) ... pissed-off army ants (25 Jan) ...

Did somebody mention cultural elitism?  If this is any indication of Peter's attitude toward law enforcement, I can only imagine how he probably acted during the stop.

uplinktruck  hopes to attend the trial.  I was going to urge people to contribute to Peter's legal defense fund.  But scratch that.  Send lunch money to uplinktruck .  He'll need it to sustain his efforts to offer an unbiased view of proceedings.  (Assuming he can keep lunch down in the face of all that cultural elitism ...)


Feb. 22nd, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Part II
A friend and I were just discussing this. If the DA and or the Judge are aware of the category three net storm swirling around this matter, Peter may have a problem catching a deal here.

Peter's public statements on the matter as well as those adding their two cents worth in the comment section could be prejudicial to the prosecution. These deals are purely discretionary. There is no law that says they have to do anything in the way of deals.

The US Border Patrol may be looking for vindication after being publicly painted with the Peter's version of events across two countries. They, who work with the District Attorney on a daily basis, may ask that no quarter be given on this one. The defendant is not the only one that can demand their day in court.

I hadn't considered that aspect of this whole thing when I wrote the above comment. This could prove to be an interesting ride after all.