Because Asking a Question is a Federal Offense

Well, this sucks. Peter Watts has been found guilty of a federal crime because he asked question and did not submit to the whim of capricious authority without asking “why?” One would have thought that such a stance, you know, personal liberty and the ability to question authority, would be an American value instead of a prosecutable offense.

One would be wrong.

Watts, a Canadian, could face up to two years of jail time for questioning the actions of the boarder guards. He states on his blog that he doesn’t blame any involved in his case, even the jurists who found him guilty, but rather the statute that he was charged under:

I do not know what the jury said amongst themselves. But a question they sent out to the court yesterday afternoon — “Is failure to comply sufficient for conviction?” — strongly suggests that this was the lynchpin event. (Certainly Defense had demolished every other, and the Prosecution had conceded as much.) If that is the case, I cannot begrudge the jury their verdict. Their job is not to rewrite laws, or ignore stupid ones; their job is to decide whether a given act violates the law as written. And when you strip away all the other bullshit — the verbal jousting, the conflicting testimony, the inconsistent reports — the law doesn’t proscribe noncompliance “unless you’re dazed and confused from being hit in the face”. It simply proscribes noncompliance, period. And we all agree that in those few seconds between Beaudry’s command and the unleashing of his pepper spray, I just stood there asking what the problem was. No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) » Guilty

Sure, there are instances of injustice occurring every day that don’t get the attention that Watts’ case did since he is a writer of some repute and with a decent fan base. Still, as he is an artist whose work I admire, I can’t help be feel saddened on his part for being found guilty.

Best wishes to you Mr. Watts.

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