.I've put off writing about the Peter Watts incident because I didn't want to write anything out of emotion. I wanted to be calm and reasonable about the whole thing.
Even days later, it isn't easy, but I'll try.
There's a certain amount of he-said/they-said about the incident. But it seems that American customs officers stopped Watts's car for whatever ineffable reason (it could even have been been because it was conspicuously not-suspicious-looking; they really do target that), and Peter Watts mouthed off to them. This is not all that uncommon an occurrence, and most law enforcement officials have been trained in how to handle it without causing an incident. These guys pepper-sprayed Watts, cuffed him with the usual roughness, and slung him in jail overnight. Then charged him with assault.
And dumped him at the border during a snowstorm without a coat.
It's this last bit that shocks the conscience. Even had Watts been guilty (and I don't believe it for an instant), such treatment would have been not only cruel and unusual but probably even illegal. Yeah, it would have been a drag to go all the way out to wherever they'd impounded the car to fetch the coat. It probably would have involved extra paperwork, and nobody enjoys that. But the people responsible had a moral obligation to do it, simply because Watts is a human being. They didn't do so because he disrespected them. He talked back to them. He treated them like they were mere servants.
Which is what they are, remember. Public servants.
All this happened because the people responsible are far too aware of their own importance. They've been charged with saving our civilization from the Terrorist Apocalypse and, hoo boy, do they know it! So, inevitably, getting their props has become Priority One for them, and the whole serve-and-protect thing goes by the wayside. The assholes.
I told you it wasn't going to be easy staying calm and reasonable about this.
If you don't already know all about this story, you can read much more balanced accounts of the whole thing here and here.