Worlds & Time

Friday, March 07, 2008

Cory Doctorow's Extraordinary Rendition!

(I love how that title sound remarkably like the title to a children's book.)

What if Cory Doctorow is arrested for Little Brother?

See, I was reading about some of the plots which the Bush Administration has been claiming to have prevented since taking office. This is in response to the recent fires in the Seattle region which can be attributed to domestic terrorism by the group ELF, the bombing of the recruiting station in NYC, and various episodes of school violence that have occurred all over the country. If they're going to keep claiming that only Republicans make you safe, they need to promote the fiction that they are keeping you safe, and this latest up tick of violence is spoiling their slogans.

Some of the plots on that list weren't really stopped by the Bush Administration though. Richard Reid, at least, was stopped by damp matches and a nearby flier. The Fort Dix plot was more about trying to get money and food than about terror.

Some of the entries on that list are even more vague. I'm sure "Supporting al Quaeda" is considered a serious crime, but we've gone from a country that forbids us to provide material aid and comfort to the enemy to one that has very nearly made the consideration of terrorism a crime.

Cory's book is not particularly subversive, but at the very least it portrays civil disobedience in a positive light (Fight the system and you too can get laid!) and the government as the enemy. Considering that the fictional terrorist attack that occurs in the book could be considered to be a suggestion for a successful method of terrorist attack, I could easily see some government censor picking up the book and decrying it as both un-American propaganda and an aid to the enemy.

That's a stupid charge, but this administration doesn't seem to really care about realistic charges or due process. I can imagine Cory stepping off a trans-Atlantic flight on his way to a Con and being picked up by the FBI, and then shipped to Guantanamo, or whatever offshore island they're using as Guantanamo since the press got wind of what was going on at Camp X-Ray.

I can't remember if he's currently got Canadian citizenship or British citizenship, but that might not protect him considering what happened to Mahar Arar. Of course, I don't think they'd send him to Syria. Maybe Iran or North Korea, if we ended up invading there, to use their preeminent torture facilities.

We'd all protest, of course. BoingBoing would run countless stories about him. However, if the government didn't want him to have a lawyer, he wouldn't get one. They could hold him indefinitely, link him to any wiretapping containing the word "bombing" and then convict him with "secret evidence." After all, if he sees it, he might be able to rebut the charges and prove his innocence.

Of course, now that we've determined that Cory is a terrorist, anyone supporting him would be considered to be supporting terrorism and would also face the wrath of the government. Mark, David, and Xeni would probably continue to publish with the EFF backing them up, but I bet that lots of people running personal "Free Cory" blogs would be shut down or harassed with FBI surveillance. Soon, there would be an anti-Cory backlash from the right.

"If they didn't support a terrorist-lover, they wouldn't get harassed!" people like Anne Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and the National Review would announce. People that kept supporting Cory as the weeks turned into months and the months turned into years would be regarded as crazy. "After all, we'd never hold someone for five years if they were innocent, would we?" they'd say. He'd be a sort of Leonard Peltier for the 21st century, without actually having killed someone.

Cory's daughter Poesy would grow up something of a cause célèbre. She'd be a living symbol of American hypocrisy and oppression, but she'd be well known and loved among the English language science fiction community. After all, out of all Americans, we in the science fiction community seem to have among the longest memories. She would probably spend her life talking about growing up without her father's presence and at the same time quoting and promoting Cory's work. We've seen that before with Christopher Tolkien and Brian Herbert. She might become something of a science fiction writer/blogger herself, to continue her father's legacy and focus on the issues for which he eventually was arrested.

In the meantime, Cory would spend his days in a six foot by ten foot concrete cell (or about 2 meters by 3.2 meters for him, since as a non-American he's used to metric). He'd still write on nearly anything that he could get his hands on, but the regular cleanings and searches of his cell would often destroy his fragile stacks of handwritten work. The guards would be warned not to let the writings of a subversive and terrorist out, so occasionally they would "accidentally" destroy a pile or two. If someone could read his work though, they'd learn that his writing had become darker. There would be an edge to it, from his long years of imprisonment, and many of the whimsical bits would be lost. Disneyland would slowly morph into Mordor.

His lawyers would occasionally manage to get letters and short stories out, but only things reviewed and approved the military. Of course, his lawyers would be forbidden from talking freely about his situation directly with him. As an enemy combatant, giving him too much information about the charges against him could result in similar charges against his lawyers.

Occasionally, after his visitors left and the lights were off, Cory would sometimes wrap himself up in the sheets off of his bed and pretend that he was wearing his red cape and goggles, flying high above the American oppression of ideas in his wi-fi enabled high altitude balloon.

Then, twenty some years from now, when the political climate changed and the government thought that he was no longer a threat, he'd be released. The charges against him, never actually tried by a jury, would be dropped and pardoned by the conservative administration who would be desperate to show that they were on the cutting edge of technological progress without actually doing anything to support technological progress.

He'd go home, finally.

It would be a while before he would be seen in public, but he'd be back. From his home in London he would become an even more powerful and convincing speaker for freedom of speech, especially the new frontiers of electronic speech being developed in the mid 21st century, like Vroggling and Sitchcasting and especially hyperGOEing.

Eventually, in his efforts to allow free speech everywhere in the globe, he'd be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, but he'd unfortunately lose to Ashley Simpson, whose selfless charity work in the name of her long deceased sister will have made her the most recognizable person on the planet, comparable to Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, and Lurz the intelligent dolphin.

Nobel nomination and all, I think I'd rather not see him arrested in the first place. Oh, right, and go preorder his book. It comes out next week!

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