Blots of Info

US Travel Tip: Never Question, Always Obey

Canadian author Peter Watts got into trouble with US border guards during an 'exit search' on his way out of the US. It seems he has been found guilty of obstructing or resisting the border guards, because (going by his own account, see below) he did not do as he was being told right away, but asked 'why' before complying. (Hey, this is my interpretation of the event and the information I will take with me next time I happen to come across a US law enforcement official)

“After Beaudry had finished whaling on me in the car, and stepped outside, and ordered me out of the vehicle; after Id complied with that, and was standing motionless beside the car, and Beaudry told me to get on the ground I just stood there, saying What is the problem?, just before Beaudry maced me.

And that, said the Prosecutor in her final remarks that, right there, was failure to comply. That was enough to convict. ” [Source]

So the lesson I learn from this, is to never question and always obey. Which is extremely contrary to my usual approach, as I hate injustice and would want to know why I am being treated like a suspect or criminal. I know we're all supposed to make sure we know all the laws and regulations of both our own country and of any country we visit, but most of the time I rely on common sense. This is one of those cases where that would be a big mistake. A compounding problem is that nowhere will it state what the limits of power are. What kind of commands can be issued that you cannot question? My guess is “any” and that is what I will have to go by in a similar situation. Which I hope to never end up in.

I hope April 26 will bring a sensible 'sentence' in this case, one of little impact on mr. Watts life. Well, besides the actual conviction of course, which is extremely bad in itself.

posted at 14:08:40 on 03/21/10 by RB - Category: Legal issues - No Trackbacks - karma: 25 [+/-]

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