So...you guys remember like a year ago that whole Peter Watts thing? Recap: Canadian sci-fi author attempting to cross the border returning to Canada from the U.S., gets stopped for inspection by American border guards, gets in their face, and gets beaten and thrown in the clink. (By the way, I know you've long since stopped keeping score, but I actually tracked that story for a while; Watts was eventually found guilty of fucking with authority or somesuch and sentenced to...two years, I think?) In any case, I'm happy to report that Chan did not receive a (physical) beatdown for his efforts, although he has now stated that he's never returning to the U.S. So...I dunno. Glad those dudes on the border are on point? Or something? Jackasses.
Anyway. This Chan story reminded me of the Watts story, though only because it involved being shit on by border guards. In fact, I feel like most of the major facets of the two stories are actually opposites. Chan was attempting to enter the U.S., while Watts was attempting to leave. Chan was civil about it, and Watts was not. Chan was just turned away by bureaucracy, Watts was actually beaten, jailed, and then actually thrown out of the country. Basically the only salient similarities are these: that they were unnecessarily harassed by U.S. border guards, and they both happen to be, in their own way, high profile enough that their experiences, once publicly documented, caught many people's eyes.
Another similarity between the two that catches my eye in particular is that both stories have been regaled by responses along the lines of, "Yeah, I cross the border a lot, too, and that shit is always happening." Really, America? These are the guys on our first line of defense? It doesn't take all that severe an insight into human interaction to paint a picture of the kind of personality being dealt with, here, especially if you, yourself, have ever had to deal with anyone being petty in a position of power. But, seriously, what's the point here?
Here's the thing. I understand this job involves a lot of profiling. I'm not saying it should; I'm just saying it does. And from everything described in Chan's post, it sounds like the guards were all about making sure that he's not trying to somehow sneak into America and then stay illegally. Okay, fine. But, really? Really? Terrence Chan is going to be that guy? I know that doesn't mean much to most of you. Try out this video, maybe. The dude is mild, smart, well-spoken, and speaks perfect English -- the guy's Canadian! He's richer than I'll ever be, not even 30, it's immediately apparent to anyone who would bother to check that he's highly visible on the Internet, and he brings to you proof (that you've asked for!) of holding property in both Vancouver and Hong Kong...and you think his goal is to sneak into life in the U.S.? And what, become a deadbeat somehow? I mean, Jesus. Who are these people?
[Total sidebar: to anyone who actually did watch that video... The Bill Chen he's talking about? Yes, that's the Church of Positive Expectation Bill Chen. The Mathematics of Poker Bill Chen. BARGErs get around, man!]
Anyway, I don't know...there's really not much I can say about all this. Just add another item to my long, long list of complaints that people can just be unnecessary dicks a lot of the time. Which is bad enough, really, but to have such people then put in positions of power over other people, where they have a ridiculous amount of sway over people's lives for...well, for no reason, frankly... Well, shit, I just described every cop story I've ever heard or told.
Anyway. This is taking me to a bad place now, so I'll just wind things up and say, "Bad beat, Terrence Chan." I'm just left wondering about the thought process that was involved with this...like what was it about Terrence Fucking Chan that made some mouth-breathing meathead think, "Huh, this guy could be trouble. Strike that...this guy is trouble, and since I've decided that, it can't be changed." Ten seconds to look him up on the Internet...TEN SECONDS. Having done that, you wave him through and just detain or reject the next guy up, the one who doesn't have a blog or friends or a whole public industry who knows who he is, and then you can continue to go about your dirty work with no one being the wiser. God bless America.