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Writer Peter Watts Sentenced; No Jail Time 299

Posted by timothy
from the new-spirit-of-openness dept.
shadowbearer writes "SF writer Peter Watts, a Canadian citizen, whose story we have read about before in these pages, was sentenced three days ago in a Port Huron, MI court. There's not a lot of detail in the story, and although he is still being treated like a terrorist (cannot enter or pass through the US, DNA samples) he was not ordered to do any time in jail, was freed, and has returned home to his family. The judge in the case was, I believe, as sympathetic as the legal system would allow him to be."
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Writer Peter Watts Sentenced; No Jail Time

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  • by dbIII (701233) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:32PM (#32052926)
    It shows the Judge thought it was bullshit that was a waste of taxpayers money via the court system as well.
    Time to get some adult supervision at those border posts.
    • by jgreco (1542031) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:36PM (#32052952)

      Adult supervision? Heck, my kids know to behave better than those guards.

      • Adult supervision? Heck, my kids know to behave better than those guards.

        My palm is resting on my face, sir. He's implying that the guards have the maturity of children.

        • by Dhalka226 (559740) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:51PM (#32053068)
          And the grandparent is implying that it wouldn't even take an adult to see how horribly the guards were acting; even other children would get it.
        • by jgreco (1542031)

          Sorry, I see how that was unclear. I was intending to question the word _adult_. I'm used to kids who are able to keep an eye on what's going on and who report bad things to their parents, or will even step in if doing so will prevent someone from getting hurt. I meant to suggest that I know some kids who would be able to supervise those guards successfully, but I see how I failed to state that clearly.

          When your kids can tell the difference between rude, mean, nasty, and actual danger, it makes you wonde

        • by poetmatt (793785)

          jgreco's reply was quite appropriate.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kramerd (1227006)

      To be fair, he got out of his car while it was being searched in a routine border search. Not randomly on the street, but to make sure that you have declared everything you may be bringing across borders (you should recognize that this would be reasonable). Its not like he couldn't have read up on how border crossings work prior to heading across the border to learn that his vehicle may be searched and that at no time should he leave his vehicle unless explicitly asked to do so by border patrol. Never mind

      • by jeko (179919) on Friday April 30, 2010 @11:08PM (#32053150)

        "This law includes offenses ranging from assault and battery to simply standing too close to an officer..."

        "Standing too close to an officer" is a crime? OK, that's about the walking definition of a bad law.

        What was Watts' crime? He asked the officers what they were doing.

        He didn't strike anyone. He didn't kick anyone. According to the record he didn't even use harsh language. Apparently our law enforcement community has become so vicious and cowardly they'll beat people bloody just for looking at them wrong.

        Peter Watts is a geek scifi writer. Judging from his photos, he weighs about 160. My wife could smack him around. He's about as threatening as a tuna sandwich.

        But somehow, these law enforcement officers felt they needed to beat him senseless, leave his blood all over the pavement, and then mace him for good measure when honestly, a wedgie probably would have been overkill.

        Scifi novelists, small-town mayors, Chinese diplomats, 75-year-old grandmas, epileptics having a seizure -- Is there ANYONE law enforcement doesn't want to beat bloody before talking to them any more?

      • If you are worried about a gun shouldn't you get the occupants out of the car first? They could have handguns in their pockets but they could have a bazooka in the back seat, so keeping them in the car seems like bad tactics to me.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by JWSmythe (446288)

          I've questioned that action before. Basically, it's about control. It's pretty obvious if your detainee turns around in the vehicle to aim a gun. If you invite them out of the car first, it's pretty easy to get out with a gun in hand but still covered by the vehicle, and then someone's going to get dead.

          From what I remember of my training, in normal vehicle stops, you should keep complete control of the situation. This is for the officers safety. A non-combative detainee should have no

        • I remember from the first time this story was posted on slashdot, that some people made the exact same comment. I agree with it*. If the officers on the scene are really nervous about the occupants of the vehicle, and want to search it without having to worry about weapons being used by those occupants, they should ask the people to step out of the vehicle, and place themselves somewhere (a "safe area") where one officer can cover them easily while the car is searched; and where if they need to be g

      • Its not like he couldn't have read up on how border crossings work prior to heading across the border to learn that his vehicle may be searched and that at no time should he leave his vehicle unless explicitly asked to do so by border patrol.

        He's a writer, not a reader, duh!

    • by WarJolt (990309)

      Or more precisely the judge thinks the government is overstepping its bounds. Viva la revolution!!! I wonder if I'm on the terrorist list yet.

      • by dbIII (701233)
        That is a Judges job and there is no "viva la revolution" about it. Portions of government overstep their bounds all of the time and get quietly told not to treat citizens, corporations non-citizens etc in certain ways.
        No conviction is pretty well equivalent to "he did it, there is a law against it but nobody in their right mind should really give a shit this time". At least that's how a lawyer explained it to me.
    • by _KiTA_ (241027) on Friday April 30, 2010 @11:17PM (#32053210) Homepage

      It shows the Judge thought it was bullshit that was a waste of taxpayers money via the court system as well.
      Time to get some adult supervision at those border posts.

      There will never be adult supervision at these border posts, TSA, or anyplace similar.

      The reason is simple enough -- the powers that be know that most of these positions are complete wastes of time. They're there to placate the rubes. That's all. If you want in the US, you get in. It's not hard. It will never be hard.

      In addition, very powerful, very important people put very stupid children in positions of power at these places, in order to fill up the resumes of these very stupid children before they can become the new generation of very powerful, very important people (the stupid is assumed redundant by this point).

      Any form of adult supervision would break both clauses -- an adult would take one look at the extreme waste of money and energy and run screaming (or break down crying), and/or fire or penalize the very stupid children (or, more likely, attempt to and then be smacked down by the aformentioned broken down crying adults who have already given up).

      • In addition, very powerful, very important people put very stupid children in positions of power at these places, in order to fill up the resumes of these very stupid children before they can become the new generation of very powerful, very important people (the stupid is assumed redundant by this point).

        The real problem is that they can't find enough honest, decent, qualified and willing people to fill the expansion of border security positions we've had in the last ten years.

        SB

        • by cynyr (703126)
          perhaps the pay isn't good enough? 40 hours a week should present one with livable wage from the US government. so around 30k-50k starting out, and go up from there based on inflation, and "dedication". not fucking up gets you inflation, above and byond the call gets you a raise, just like everywhere else should.
  • I can see the government not wanting a man to enter or pass through the US, but it seems a little harsh to disallow a guy to enter or pass through DNA samples. I mean, sometimes you gotta pass through those DNA samples to get to critically important chromosomes.
  • by shadowbearer (554144) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:53PM (#32053080) Homepage Journal

      I didn't read the article thoroughly enough before I posted the submission; there is more detail on the case on a link from within the story [blogspot.com].

    (It was not with the intention of gaining karma; my karma has been peaked out for years, ceased to care about it even before that)

      A note on Slashdot's submission/moderation system; I had moderator points before I posted the story, and apparently have moderator points within the story. The editors may have their reasons for allowing it, but I don't feel that it's a good idea to allow story submitters to have moderation points within a story they post. Just sayin'

      I did find this bit to perhaps be an indication of the judge's real feelings:

      He told Peter that he was a puzzle to him; that he thought he would enjoy having a pint with Peter (Peter told him he would buy; Adair said he would get the next round);

      It does sound like the judge would like to know a little more about his side of the story than what he could glean from the courtroom proceedings.

      Oh, and thanks for the minor editing Timothy, it does read better that way.

      SB

  • by goodmanj (234846) on Friday April 30, 2010 @11:20PM (#32053232)

    although he is still being treated like a terrorist (cannot enter or pass through the US, DNA samples)

    Hi! Are you wondering if the U.S. federal government is treating you like a terrorist? Sure, we all are. Here's a handy questionnaire to find out.

    Is there a Predator drone overhead firing missiles at your car?
    [ ] Yes
    [ ] No

    If you checked "No", congratulations! The U.S. government might not trust you or want you in the country, but they're not treating you like a terrorist.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thefear (1011449)

      If you checked "No", congratulations! You are not yet aware that you are being treated like a terrorist!

Two is not equal to three, even for large values of two.

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