So Peter Watts may have made the mistake of arguing with some US border guards. According to Cory Doctorow, they then gave Watts a beating, charged him with assaulting a federal officer, and sent him packing into Canada in his shirtsleeves in the snow.
Now he's facing a federal felony charge in the US. Watts, for those who don't know, is the author of the fabulous Blindsight, a bleak but mindblowing novel that was nominated for a Hugo a few years back. It's available as a download thanks to its Creative Commons license.
The folks who like to grovel before authority are predictably already turning up in Boing Boing's comments. We don't know what happened, maybe he was at fault, blah blah blah. You know what? I don't even care if Watts argued with the guards, if he verbally provoked them, if he refused to follow their orders immediately. I don't for a minute believe that an SF author and former marine biologist in his forties just lunged at a border guard.
I do believe that border guards have an absurd amount of power over people. When you have that much power in one place, you've created a job that attracts bullying assholes. Not all of them, but way too many are just there to push people around and feed their piggy little egos.
I've donated $20 to Watts through his PayPal account on his website.
If, like me, you've ever been treated like dirt by some jackass of a border guard, kick in a few bucks. Free Peter Watts!