Dom över sf-författare

Den kanadensiska sf-författaren Peter Watts förklarades i fredags skyldig till överfall på en gränsvakt i USA. Exakt vad som har hänt är inte helt klart men det verkar som om vakterna överreagerat rätt ordentligt. Det är inte första gången de har uppträtt arrogant, de verkar vara närmast slumpmässiga i sin ämbetsutövning. Domen kommer i slutet av april. Förhoppningsvis inte det strängaste tänkbara straffet, vilket är två år, för något som närmast motsvarar våld mot tjänsteman.

14 reaktioner till “Dom över sf-författare”

  1. My excuses for the finite automaton that has directed me to the Commentary area of the last Bokprat. Several minutes ago I posted an analysis of one chief aspect of Peter Watts’ conviction on the BSFA Forum. It is a response to a person who thinks it possible that the relevant law was poorly constructed. That is possible, but I doubt it.

    I don’t think the law was poorly drafted. Rather, I think it was drafted quite artfully: namely, in such a way as to make almost any kind of hesitant and/or questioning behaviour fall under ”non-compliance.” For this gives the police (Feds, etc) maximal freedom of action and discretionary use of force in each instance.

    This is socially dangerous. Suppose that, let’s say, five law-enforcement agencies in country X have such wide authority. Suppose that the population of X knows that ”the law” has such powers but does not know how many agencies are empowered in this way, or how many agents there are in total. Perhaps (though this is not essential) the people of X do not even know that there is a plurality of such agencies. Then I assure the reader that all but the bravest members of X will say very little indeed. Few if any questions will be asked in any situation, including the question ”Why?” This yields an ideal technique of public repression: maximal silencing of dissent with, if necessary, minimal means.

    Although the above is a philosophical comment and partial analysis, it is not a figment of my imagination. This situation obtained in Communist Romania, where it turned out that the feared Securitate had far fewer members than the public was led to believe. They were cowed by false stories that, e.g., almost everybody reported on everyone they knew.

    Peter Watts was found guilty under a law of this broadly-interpretable sort. Perhaps one intent was not to punish Dr Watts but to make an object lesson of him, especially given the high-profile his case attained. Perhaps it can (or has) spread fear among the population of the United States. I don’t know. But I cannot rule this out. For a less abstract expression of a similar view, see the Boing Boing article by Cory Doctorow linked to here, and especially the article that Mr Doctorow links to therein: http://www.boingboing.net/2010/03/20/peter-watts-may-serv.html .

  2. Jag lämnade själv en kommentar på Peter Watts egen blogg, där jag på ett lite trött och virrigt sätt refererade en historia om en sydafrikansk man i Sverige som blev väldigt positivt överraskad när det inte bara gick att diskutera med en svensk trafikpolis, utan att bli trodd och utan vidare släppt av polisen. Själv skulle lätt ha gjort samma sorts ”misstag” som Watts, för jag har inte heller blivit drillad i att aldrig ifrågasätta den här sortens tjänstemän.

    Kanadensiska poliser och gränsvakter är i allmänhet betydligt vänligare än amerikanska.

  3. There is a PayPal spot one can click if one wishes to contribute to Dr Watts’ defense fund. I don’t remember how to get there, but start at ”updates” and proceed from there.

  4. not quite åka,. Dr Watts is literally guilty. The law involved is constructed so as to make this possible. See my commentary above. I doubt very much that any Swedish law admits of such a broad interpretation. The South African person could not have even been suspected of breaking some law. If I am right it’s this disanalogy that scares me.

  5. Alltså, vad jag försökte säga var att om jag hade varit vid den amerikanska gränsen, i Peter Watts ställe, så hade jag nog varit minst lika trög som han var — på grund av att jag inte växt upp i till exempel Sydafrika.

  6. Me too. I have a good friend who was born and raised in a Communist country. He travelled across many Borders, back and forth. He told me that in such countries everyone knows that they should say nothing at any border, and that orders must be obeyed quickly. But as you imply, you and Dr Watts were not raised in such places. I hope I understand you.

  7. PS. By ”Me too” I am referring to myself say in 1960, when such horrors occured far less frequently, were not results of repressive laws, and went unreported on if they did occur.

  8. PPS. I think my friend implied that Dr Watts brought this upon himself. I have heard this from Americans as well. You will understand that I do not share this attitude. Neither do all of my American friends, two of whom would like to move to Canada asap .

  9. I saw the Tor post about one hour ago, but have known about the outcome since yesterday morning at about 4:00 our time. Well, Peter must pay a fine and some costs. The total is about $1700. I think he can pay that from his defense fund, but I hope the latter covers his lawyer’s fees as wel.

    One problem was pointed out to me last night by ”Interzone” publicity person Roy Gray. Dr Watts now has a ”record.” it is very possible that he will be able to enter the USA only with difficulty, either at the border or at some Canadian consulate (if he needs a visa). For a writer and a scientist (he’s a marine biologist) this can be troublesome.

  10. I just read the Tor post carefully. I did not know that the immigration laws exclude Dr Watts from entering the USA in any sort of way. The Tor text shocked me. I’ll put it on the TTA website tonight I started a thread about the sentencing procedure yesterday.

  11. This one is at least as moving, and should be read: http://www.rifters.com/crawl/ . I hope that one remark in this post will cause some readers to contribute to Peter Watts’ defense fund. Go to BACKLIST, look for the Pay Pal sign, and assist him or an equally worthy cause.

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