We used to cross the border every so often, just to go up to White Rock, a pleasant seaside Canadian town, and have lunch there.
NOW look at what's happening on the borders.
I've seen a couple of unformed officers chase down an elderly gentleman who got out of his vehicle when too close to the checkpoint of the US entry booths - he looked as though he'd been sitting for too long and, as old bones sometimes do, needed a stretch of the bone and muscle - but I guess he should have known better than to attempt it. It might be a free country but don't get out of your car, sir.
I don't know Peter personally, but he is a colleague, both as writer and as scientist. Neither guise would seem to me to point to him as being in any way a dangerous personality - and from what I understand of the story I am completely baffled as to why US border officials were searching a car occupied by a Canadian citizen and LEAVING the United States. But the consequences of that search were... frightening, both for Peter Watts and for those of us who might think about occasionally crossing this border-between-allies in order to visit Canada for a day. Our particular crossing is going to turn into a nightmare on wheels when the Olympics land in Vancouver and I won't be seen anywhere NEAR it while the games are on, but the Olympic Games were hardly an excuse at a border crossing between Michigan and Ontario. Either way, released coatless into a Canadian winter night on foot, Peter made it home - but he's facing charges back south of the border which might carry consequences even more dire than those he already lived through. These might include a permanent ban on travel in the US, and the possibility of jail time in the States. And it's going to be him against the deep-pocket behemoth of bureaucracy. There are links at both the sites I've linked to above for those who wish to and have the means to donate some $$$ towards his legal expenses (high-end lawyers charge $500- $1000 AN HOUR...)
They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.
Wise man, that Franklin.