On Peter Watts's sentencing hearing

Madeline Ashby, Dr Peter Watt's friend (and mine) has written a beautiful piece on Tor.com about Peter's sentencing hearing: "This is a love story. This is the story of one man who had no idea how many people were in his corner. Not just the people standing up for him in court, or the ones who wrote letters to his judge or to the governor of Michigan, but the people all over the globe who donated to his legal fund, who bought his books, who talked about the case with their friends and neighbours, who blogged it and tweeted it and kept the conversation alive."


  1. The true measure of any civilization is the way it treats its Science Fiction writers. Hurray!

  2. I read on some other post that the jurors were “obliged” to find Watts guilty because the judge instructed them to do so. I thought the whole point of a jury trial was that one’s peers would decide one’s guilt based on their understanding of the facts at the trial and their innate sense of justice. By this reading the jurors were wrong to convict if they did not believe he was guilty: they were in fact guilty of caving in to “authority,” a serious problem in today’s world (and many of yesterday’s worlds, to be sure).
    Cheers, Tedsy

    1. #2:

      First of all, even the slightest hint of knowledge of nullification during jury selection will lead to an instant peremptory challenge by one side or the other. Or so is my understanding.

      That, and some racist juries used nullification to acquit murderers during the ’60s. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS

  3. She writes,

    > What happened to Peter Watts could happen to any of us. I think that this realization galvanized the number of people that it did.

    Certainly the incident with the border guards could happen to any of us. What wouldn’t happen to almost any of us is getting the huge publicity and support that allowed Peter to win his court case. As Peter said, not everyone has a friend with a readership of BB scale.

    I like Peter’s books, I contributed a bit of money to his defense fund, and it’s nice that he wasn’t jailed and “only” had to spend half a year dealing with this shit. But there’s nothing to be really happy about here, people. We won one insignificant fight. The reality that “this could happen to any of us” hasn’t changed one bit.

    1. Sadly, I have to agree with you. But if it weren’t for pyrrhic victories, then we wouldn’t have any victories at all.

  4. Okay, so now how do we help Peter get the felony conviction expunged? I’m happy that he’s got his life back, but the consequences still suck balls.

  5. I’m sorry, this is not a victory. The man spent months of time and I hate to think how many thousands of dollars aside from the fine. Screw “court costs” that is a fine. The fact that the state decided he’d been punished enough is not a victory.

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