Oct 282009

UPDATE: Oh, the poor man – it gets worse.

Jorge Cham, an American cartoonist who also happens to have a doctorate, regularly travels around North America and, lately, Europe, giving talks about his online cartoon, PhD Comics, graduate school in general, and procrastination. Though I’ve been reading PhD Comics since he first put them online (they began as a strip in the university student newspaper at Stanford), I’ve never had the pleasure of attending one of his talks.

I was delighted when I heard he would be giving a series here in Blighty, even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to attend.

Imagine my mortification, then, when I read the latest update at his website. Those bastards at UKBA detained him at Heathrow, for no conceivable reason.

Funny – last time I came in through Heathrow, I was detained too, for no reason.

What the hell is going on with the Border Agency? Have they been given instructions to intimidate as far as possible any Americans entering the country, even if entirely legally, who do not fit the ‘tourist’ profile?

I don’t know what the legal niceties of being detained are, but having gone through it myself, I can assure you it is no picnic. Quite apart from the humiliation factor, it is actually detention, and whilst you wait to find out whether they’re going to stick you right back on another airplane, you have no access to communication whatsoever. You cannot phone a friend or a solicitor. You can’t do anything except sit there and hope that whatever arbitrary decision is made about you will be in your favour. You don’t even know whether the fact that you’ve done nothing illegal is enough to override the suspicion that you might one day do so.

People detained at borders have absolutely none of the civil protections granted to the lowest of the low criminals within those borders. The right to representation, the presumption of innocence, habeas corpus – they have none of these. They can be shipped off, against their will, without ever having done anything wrong. I was angry enough about it when I thought UKBA were just persecuting me because of my visa history. Now I see they’re doing it to other people like me, with even less justification.

What the fuck.

  7 Responses to “Cartoonist detained”

  1. I fully support the arbitrary detention of Americans at UK airports for no other reason than passing the time; filthy yanks stealing all our jobs, making our TV series look substandard by comparison.


    As it stands perhaps the BNP will secure some votes when the clamour dies down enough for them to point out that we’ve lost the ability to control our borders to better off migrants from EU countries whilst punishing the poorest on earth for wanting a better life; you don’t need to be racist to take this fact on board.

  2. Sadly, exactly the same thing happened to my wife and I when we tried to enter the USA….even though we had valid 10 year multi-entry visas.

  3. The right to representation, the presumption of innocence, habeas corpus – they have none of these.

    Didn’t you hear Bella? Such things are no longer required, either by visitors or by the resident livestock, in the British provinces of the EU. Heil Labour!

  4. I can’t believe the deported him. Can no protest be made on his behalf by the people who invited him to speak?

    • I don’t think he was actually deported in the end, so perhaps his hosts did appeal on his behalf.

  5. Now if you/he were brown (or darker) and Muslim and named Mohammed (or Mu… or Ma…) PBOH and/or were fresh out of a Jihadist training camp…….

  6. Actually, Bella is a jihadist. Look at her pen name. Very militant.

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