If you buy into the Many Worlds Intepretation of quantum physics, there must be a parallel universe in which I crossed the US/Canada border without incident last Tuesday. In some other dimension, I was not waved over by a cluster of border guards who swarmed my car like army ants for no apparent reason; or perhaps they did, and I simply kept my eyes downcast and refrained from asking questions.
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.
I’ve crossed the US/Canada border many times. Sometimes I’ve breezed through, sometimes I’ve been made to feel guilty as fuck despite having done nothing even close to illegal. But, I’ve obviously never faced what Watts is now dealing with. Of course, there are two sides to every story, but give what friends of Peter have said (Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi, for instance), and the exceedingly forceful measures taken with visitors travelling into and out of the United States, I’m inclined to believe Watt’s side of the story. It’s not the first time we’ve heard a story like this.
If you’re so inclined, Boing Boing has all the details on how you might be able to help Peter fight against the (seemingly absurd) charges.