As a writer, I hear other writers talking about the browsing history on their computers. Sites about murder, poison, making bombs, laundering money, you know, stuff that doesn’t look good after the FEDs kick open the front door to your house, announce that you have a right to remain silent while hoping you don’t, and then run off with your computer.
Let’s say your arrested for a crime of which you’re innocent but your browsing history includes sites about how to murder your spouse without getting caught. When the trial comes, the D.A. asks you to explain these searches and you say you were doing research for a book. When asked to produce the manuscript, you can’t since you haven’t started writing it yet.
If you watch the series “Bull” on TV about a company that specializes in jury selection and find people like that to defend you, you might have a prayer. Otherwise, it’s going to be a life sentence without any chance of parole. Or, at the very least, if I ever run for President, my opponents will ask why I spent 10000 hours on murder for fun and profit sites.
Since I believe in Murphy’s Law, I think of this when I head out to incriminating sites. “Yep, the NSA/CIA/FBI are probably monitoring this site,” I think. Frankly, I think authors ought to be given a “Get out of Jail Free” card to cover innocent research that makes them look guilty.
I’ve been doing more research into the KKK, supplementing what I did before writing the three books in my Florida Folk Magic Series. Every time I access a KKK site, I think I hear some FBI Special Agent saying, “Ah, Malcolm again, Now I’ve got you, you son of a bitch.” What if the Southern Poverty Law Center finds out; will I be labelled as a Hate Site? That won’t be good for book sales.
If you’re not a writer, you have no idea of the risks we take to bring you true-to-life, accurate, and frightening stories about evil people. We’re walking in harm’s way to give you a good story. So, when we get rounded up in a sting operation at the library, we hope you’ll be there with bail money.
When I was in high school, I hid “questionable” novels under the mattress so my folks wouldn’t find them. I never told them what movies I was going to see because I didn’t want to get in trouble. But they didn’t have today’s technology. They didn’t know how to hack into the GPS system and/or live-feed traffic cams to see where I was. But, apparently, the FEDs know where I am 24/7. There ought to be a law against that but when people complain, they’re told, “If you have nothing to hide, there’s nothing to worry about.”
Everyone has something to hide, but especially writers.