So, a Canadian SF writer, Dr. Peter Watts, got into a set-to whilst crossing the border back into Canada from the U.S. His version is that he was singled out, pulled over for inspection, and when he got out to inquire what the beef was -- and for no reason whatsoever -- he was beaten, pepper-sprayed, cuffed, arrested, and charged with assault a federal officer.
The ICE version is that he was pulled over, he got out of his car, became verbally abusive, and refused to get back into his rented automobile when told to do so. When they tried to arrest him, he resisted, and tried to choke out one of the officers.
On the face of it, if you believe Watts's account, then this is simply unacceptable behavior on the part of the ICE agents.
But as in all these kinds of things, there is that pesky other side to the story, and it has that fishy smell that makes me wonder.
If you click on the link above and read Watts's account, take note of the language and alternate-world construction in which he framed it.
Consider two possibilities:
1. Watts is stopped because he is in a rental car and asked to pull over. He exits the vehicle, politely inquires as to the cause for the stop.
The agent, insulted to the hilt, screams, "Get back in the car, now!"
Watts, puzzled, repeats the query: "I'm sorry, I'm not looking to cause trouble, but what is the problem?"
Whereupon a couple of the jackboots proceed to punch him in the face, hit him with pepper spray, knock him down, kick him, handcuff him, and after stripping him half naked, throw him into the slammer. Upon his release, he is put out jacketless in a snowstorm and told to stand by because he is surely going to get a couple years in prison for the assault.
2. Watts is stopped because he is in a rental car and asked to pull over. He exits the vehicle, says to the ICE agent, "What the fuck are you doing?"
"Please get back in your vehicle, sir."
"Hell I will. I asked you what the fuck you are doing, and I want an answer!"
It could be somewhere in between.
And we are off -- !
Watts is not twelve-years-old. One assumes that the "Dr." before his name, indicating at least a Ph.D, would indicate he has some education and might be expected to know the ways of the world.
If he mouthed off to the border guys and got feisty and, the agents were having a bad day, you can see how that might go.
But you know all major crossings have videocams covering the gates, and that vid, if it exists, will become somebody's evidence pretty quick. I'd love to see it before I passed judgement on this incident. In the case of the girl in Portland being shot by the beanbag, I did see the video and I thought the officer overstepped. In this case, while it might be possible the agents just flipped out and for no reason beat the crap out of a science fiction writer, I find that it sounds just a little, I dunno, too pat.
Why bother? Science fiction writers have the crap beat out of them by critics, fans, and literary writers all the time ...