August 25, 2006


because I am serving up today a Huge, Disgusting Full Fledged, Self-Pitying Whinefest!

First of all, my arrest was a squib on the BookSlut blog. Which....I have to admit I had a fangrrl tittery response to that. ("I'm on BookSlut! I'm on BookSlut!" like that.)

Right after I finished being tittery, though, I had to have big dumb stupid girly cry about it. Because remember what I said about, NO MATTER WHAT, just being arrested makes it looks like I DID do something wrong? Yeah.

BookSlut says, "Novelist Joshilyn Jackson (Gods in Alabama) was arrested and jailed in Austell, Georgia, and we can all rest easy. Jackson's crime: having her maiden name on her Social Security card, and her married name on her driver's license. In other words, being a remorseless criminal monster out to destroy America."

Now granted, I AM "a remorseless criminal monster out to destroy America." No one is denying that for a second. BUT, the small fact that I DID NOT actually have my maiden name on my soc card and my married name on my drivers license has been forgotten. Not just by BookSlut. Friend after friend has said to me in casual conversation, "I can't believe you got arrested just for not changing your name." And I say BUT BUT BUT As soon as the SS office TOLD me that was the case, I went and FIXED it. Lawfully, Obediently. Long before they punitively canceled my driver's license. I complied. Like a good dumb dog. AND they arrested me anyway.

And then my friends say, "Well that wasn't really clear (Which it was!) and anyway that's not really the point. (But it is!)

They are focusing on Injustice the first -- which is that this crackdown is causing a relatively law abiding citizen ...

(I say relatively because, Best Beloveds, I was speeding.
When the officer pulled me over he said: Why did I pull you over?
and I said: I was speeding. Heh.
And he said: Yep.
And then he waited a sec for me to say the obligatory: Please don't give me a ticket and PS did you happen to notice I have enormous, mighty cleavage? smilesmilesmile
But I didn't say any of that. Not because my cleavage isn't mighty. Oh NO!
I didn't say it because... I WAS SPEEDING. Actions have consequences. I was in the wrong. I deserved the ticket. The end.) be carted off to jail, but IT WAS THEIR PAPERWORK MISTAKE. Not only is it ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY that any person MUST be carted off to jail if their "papers aren't order" (which is insane) but I was jailed even though my papers WERE in order.

See, the whole idea is well these laws protect us law abiding citizens, because they are designed to weed out illegal aliens and therefore catch the bad terrorists. And some gardeners.
So have your papers in order, like a good dog, and nothing bad will happen to you. That's doesn't seem terribly "RA RA PERSONAL FREEDOM YAY AMERICA!" in the first place. But, it's actually worse.

I had my papers in order.
I was the goodest of good dogs.
AND anyone who doesn't think anything bad happened to me

1) Must have $1,500 bucks lying around they were thinking of using to light their smokes or eating like a fresh crisp salad
2) Should try being marched down the busiest street that runs through their small town in handcuffs
3) Did not see that freakin' jail house toilet.

(To be clear about #1 -- I don't mean bail. That's a WHOLE ANOTHER 1,000 I had to lay out, but I will get that back when I show up for court. It will cost me just under $1500.00 bucks OVER and ABOVE the bail, and I won't get it back. And SURE if I had infinite time and resources I COULD MAYBE sue the DMV and get it back, but I could incur several more thousand in legal fees and still lose as the DMV does this all the time and can't really be expected to cover the costs for every single little wrongful arrest they cause...So.

I am just paying it. I can't take hours away from my children and my work and gamble MORE legal fees on the hope that the the system that CAUSED MY WRONGFUL ARREST is going to own up to their responsibility. I would like to point the DMV to my little YEAH! I WAS SPEEDING! I WAS WRONG! MY BAD. I TALE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THAT BAD CHOICE! paragraph above, but the DMV, you understand, is just going to buy an even LOWER cut blouse and maybe bounce a little on its heels. It is NOT going to say, OOPS! WE WERE IN THE WRONG.)

I've been told that I'm overreacting and missing the point of my own arrest. Many of my friends have already forgotten that I did not actually do anything wrong, and are focusing on the fact that if I HAD done the wrong thing, it would still be huge overreaction to arrest me. People are telling me the bigger point is more important.... The bigger point being, that with these new laws, a soccer mom can be pulled over for speeding and arrested because "her papers are not in order," and that this should not happen in America.


BUT! I'm being told that the fact of my innocence is ONLY an important distinction to me, my mom, and my kids, that only WE care that I did not ACTUALLY DID NOT BREAK THE LAW they arrested me for breaking.

I beg to differ. It makes a difference, actually, because NO ONE, not even the most patriot-act adoring safety first sort can say to me "Oh ! BUT! These more stringent measures are not intruding on good dog citizens, because IF you had had your papers in ORDER this would not have happened to you and AMERICA is SAFER this way. So get your papers in order."

I HAD THEM IN ORDER. They arrested me anyway.
You could have all your papers in order, and they could arrest you too.
Welcome to the new America, where you can be arrested if you screw up your paperwork....or if your friendly, local government does.

Posted by joshilyn at August 25, 2006 7:39 AM

Damn, Joss. You totally deserve to have a HUGE pity party, then go get a pedicure and buy yourself the fixings for Pomtinis.

I get it, and it's terrifying that you were arrested because some idiot at DMV screwed up. Even getting on Bookslut is not worth all the shit you've been through.

Am I allowed to cuss on this blog?

Posted by: Edgy Mama at August 25, 2006 8:53 AM

You're totally right and it's a really scary thing. As in "we're waaay down the road to becoming a police state" scary.

Posted by: DebR at August 25, 2006 9:15 AM

Um... this isn't a whinefest. This is a legitimate "what the ^&*$ is wrong with this country right now?!!" situation. Unfortunately, you're right. Getting the DMV to admit to wrongdoing in this case is going to be pointless. I'd put money into a legal fund if you wanted to take it to court, because this type of thing scares me.

Hang in there, and know that at least some of us get it: sometimes even good dogs with all their ducks in a row (must be an Aussie shepherd!) wind up on the wrong side of a bureaucratic mix-up.

Posted by: Beth at August 25, 2006 9:21 AM

Dear Joshilyn, it is so easy for others to miss our point on facts!! You could be telling this story until the cows fly home, and still; it will remain to the discretion of the beholder on "how" to attach guilt/blame to the charge. Innocence means nothing, in the world of law....when cops have a quota to meet.

I have never been pulled over by the police, and I can well imagine the heart-pumping scenario when it happened to you.

I can well imagine the frustration, that the truth isn't being kept straight!! Must be mind boggling...

Not sure what else to say, 'cept sorry this happened to you; and tsk tsk the cops that invaded your peace...


Posted by: North at August 25, 2006 9:21 AM

A good story to keep in mind during the next elections ... And were your kids in the car during this whole fiasco? If so, that alone is reason to to sue the DMV!

You need new shoes. Nothing cures the blues like new shoes (worn while eating a pint of chocolate ice cream).

Posted by: Liz at August 25, 2006 9:35 AM

It just sucks. The whole thing sucks. The sheer frustration and exasperation from the fact that you were not, indeed, in the wrong must be exhausting.

You so need some new shoes. And ice cream. And a bubble bath.

Posted by: Keetha at August 25, 2006 9:57 AM

I've spent a night in a downtown jail in solitary (and believe me I was glad I was in solitary because there was this insane woman threatening to kill people with her bare hands in the jail at the same time)and it was all because some parents over-reacted to a sleep over my little brother was having and my mother was out of the country but I was old enough to be arrested and I was the adult in the house at the time. Soooooooo I do totally understand the feeling of the absurdity of it all followed by the sinking feeling that I am in jail and yikes! that's an enormous cockroach inching its way towards my foot with only socks on.
So after the power went out and the "emergency power" came on I was finally able to make a phonecall. And I had to call my work partner because that morning we had 50 or more children coming for a class at the nature center and I didn't want her to feel like I was abandoning her but I knew I wouldn't be there becasue um I was in jail. Long story short, I got out of jail and bail was posted and I did not teach class that day and no offficial charges were brought against me. No one wanted to hear how I didn't do anything wrong. They just wanted to make jokes about it. My brother was not happy about having to spend the night at social services and also did not want to hear about how I didn't do anything wrong. I really wanted to rant and rave about how absurd and scary and ridiculous it was that I spent the night in jail..taken away in a paddy wagon even...and no one wanted to hear how it was a communication problem, no one wanted to hear the nuts and bolts.
You're situation is much different and, at least to me, clearly illustrates how the laws we have under the Patriot Act are really not designed to do anything but get people into prisons easily. Processes we take for granted really don't exist one phone call and speaking to an attorney. You were simply "accused" of having incorrect paperwork. What if you had been "accused" of terrorist activities? You would still be in jail. We may or may not have any idea what jail. You may or may not get a trial or a charge or anything we think of as part of arrest procedure.

MAYBE your experience could open a reasoned dialog about how our laws are changing and do we want the changes? I'm sorry its been so traumatic for you (I guess getting on BookSluts isn't traumatic :) but I think it proves how dangerous it can be to let "them" do all the planning.

Thank you for this great blog too!

Posted by: Julie at August 25, 2006 9:57 AM

*continues to be righteously indignant on your behalf*

*kicks lazyass slob at SS office who lost the paperwork that YOU MADE SURE WAS IN ORDER*

*kicks stupid police who
a. didn't recognize you IMMEDIATELY
b. didn't fangirl/guy all over you and ask for an autograph
c. put you in &%#%*@$&%( Handcuffs!!!!!! (Dude, seriously, that's just WRONG)

*kicks stupid prison toilet

*glares at friends who can NOT get the damned story right

Posted by: Angela at August 25, 2006 10:23 AM

Freakin' A! You are entitled to mope and wine and stamp your perfectly shod feet. And some of us actually READ what you wrote and UNDERSTOOD it and can see that very clearly you did not do anything wrong and ergo were wrongfully arrested. It seemed veryverycrystalclear to me, so I'm not sure where all this confusion is coming from.

When good dog citizens can be arrested (wrongfully) for not even doing something that wasn't really dangerous in the first place (even if they had done it, which they didn't) we need to VOTE HARD and get some people in office who remember what democracy's about.

Posted by: Aimee at August 25, 2006 10:40 AM

Erm...WHINE. Although, now that I think of it, you're entitled to WINE, too. Lots of it. :)

Posted by: Aimee at August 25, 2006 10:41 AM

What Beth said. I understand totally why you wouldn't want to expend the time, energy and money fighting this, but if you did, I'd contribute to a legal fund. This has implications for all of us.

Posted by: Carrie in MN at August 25, 2006 10:54 AM

I'm calling Oprah.

I'm afraid if you get on Oprah now, though, she won't pick your book one day.

However, if she talks with you about your ordeal..."Soccer Mom arrested. It could happen to you" show...she might remember your name and pick your book anyway.

It's a gamble.

Also, you don't need Oprah to be a famous novelist. How 'bout being a famous soccer mom instead? You might end up on the 40th anniversary boxed set. Cool!

Posted by: Waylon at August 25, 2006 11:43 AM

You are NOT over-reacting. This whole situation is appalling and unbelievable.

Posted by: katie at August 25, 2006 11:46 AM

Dear lord girl. I think your point is more important. YOU DID EVERYTHING RIGHT AND THEY STILL ARRESTED YOU. To which I say, WTF is this country coming too??????

I have just had the fight of all time trying to get my license AND I have to go back and do it AGAIN with the SS and the DMV so I can make my married name match on everything. I am less then pleased with them.

Posted by: Autumn at August 25, 2006 12:47 PM

As the person largely responsible for your appearance on Bookslut and, by some sort of transitive property, also sending you into girly cry mode I feel terrible. And for the record, J, I really DO feel horrible about what happened to you and what you and your family have had to go through and for the embarrassment and pain and everything else. I hope that was clear. I sent you a draft of the piece I was writing before I posted it at The Outfit precisely because I didn't want you to feel like I was just co-opting your pain to make a political point. Which I guess I was. But what I mean is I didn't want to do that without your permission.

Despite what it might feel like, I don't think anyone is disregarding your personal pain, although most people don't know you so their empathy can only extend so far. But people have been wrongly arrested for as long as there have been deadbolts. An arrest by mistake isn't really news. What makes your arrest news isn't the fact that you were innocent, which is outrageous, but that even if you WERE guilty of what they suspected, it STILL would have been outrageous.

I do feel terrible because this was exactly the reaction I feared you might have if I wrote about it. But your story really is important. That puts you in a tough spot, and I have no doubt that it sucks.

To make it up to you, I promise to stop referring to you in my correspondence as "the lovely Joshilyn Jackson" and henceforth will refer to you as "the innocent Joshilyn Jackson."

Word will get out.

Posted by: Kevin Guilfoile at August 25, 2006 2:17 PM

No wait. "Lovely and innocent." That's the trick.

Posted by: Kevin Guilfoile at August 25, 2006 2:26 PM

"VOTE HARD"?? Were the DMV/SSO workers who made the clerical errors elected officials?

Posted by: Peej at August 25, 2006 3:55 PM

Once your book gets optioned out and it's made into a big blockbuster movie(that's only if you would ever want to go that route.) You can look back on this incident and laugh about it. Those bastards! I would be really upset, too.

You're still look fabulously svelte though!

Posted by: Andrea at August 25, 2006 4:22 PM

OH NO KEVIN! The MOST important thing to remember about this WHOLE mess is that I was on BookSlut.

The other most important thing to remember is, I loved your piece and pre-read it and said, yes please post that, that's very great. And it IS. And you made it VERY CLEAR, I thought, that I did not actually break the law. I ALSO made it very clear I didn't over here.

THE THIRD most important thing to remember is that I don't HAVE actual PAIN over this. I have irritation and driving-through-Austell-induced neurotic attacks. That's NOT the same as pain.

The FOURTH most important thing to remember about this is that I was on BookSlut.


Posted by: Joshilyn at August 25, 2006 4:40 PM

This just scares the hell out of me. I can't believe people don't get that your not being in the wrong is a HUGE issue. Pisses me off, too. It's too bad someone isn't doing a class action suit for this, then the DMV could flash their cleavage and bounce all they want, but they'd have to pay, too. Dirty sluts. Oops. Did I say that out loud? /;+)

So, this seems to be a Georgia thing, then? Or are all us Californians who have our business names (noms de plume, e.g.) on our DLs going to end up in the pokey because Social Security has a twinge in its gut?

Looked at in another way, if this is a result of the Patriot Act, boy, howdy, are they going to be burying themselves under a buttload of paperwork with this kind of nonsense going on. And you (we) will pay again in the form of higher taxes and, it could be argued, less police protection because the poor bastards are too busy arresting innocent housewives over a paperwork glitch to be out doing the catching criminals thing.

Posted by: ZaZa at August 25, 2006 5:59 PM

Oh this brings up sooo many thoughts.
First condolences over the confusion. I was one of those confused as to why you were arrested. Now that I understand the whys, I am dumbfounded by the wherefores. Illegal aliens have more rights.

It makes me wonder what happens when one name A-Listers get pulled over. I mean, Cher is much easier to understand (and sign) than Cherilyn Saarkezian LaPierre Bono Allman. Oh what about Oprah? what is her last name, I mean if I know all of Cher's shouldn't I know Oprahs? And I gave up on Liz' 8 (it is eight right?) years ago.

In my small town (9k and growing,) because of my job, my name is known, and apparently my middle name only. When I got pulled over once by an officer (of which I know them all) and he politely asked for my license, I got more than a double take from him, before he asked if I ever got confused. I said all the time and he let me go. But not without a lot of laughter and head shaking. Now you have me worried, I can't take back those divorces, and I'm not going to use all those names one the air.

Posted by: Cele at August 25, 2006 6:18 PM

I heard a scary story from a guy who was touring prisons, teaching meditation:

In a US/Mexico border prison, he met some Russian women who had been traveling the US. They went across the border to Tijuana because they got lost, and then immediately returned. Their papers weren't in order, so they got put in the slam. Where they had been, without charge or trial, for 6 months. Gulp.

Posted by: Gayla at August 25, 2006 6:42 PM

In or around Atlanta YOU EXPECT JUSTICE???
Surely your not that naive........are you?

Posted by: desi at August 25, 2006 9:24 PM

I *think* what people mean when they say it would be insane even if you hadn't done the paperwork is that, the fact that you got arrested EVEN THOUGH you HAD done the paperwork is so insane words fail them. That's all I meant anyway. :) It's outrageous in a scary way.

Posted by: Laura Florand at August 26, 2006 5:40 PM

1. You are completely within your rights to whine and cry about this. You were in the right and what was done to you was awful. Your innocence TOTALLY matters.
2. I am one of the friends WHO GET THIS. I'm going on record, people, as one who has stressed Jos's innocence every time I've told the tale. Which is a number of times, now.
3. The only thing I'm unclear about is WHY they thought your papers were out of order in the first place. Your maiden name is YOUR NAME. It doesn't STOP being your name when you get married. It's YOURS. For LIFE. Exactly what is wrong with using it?
4. I'm sending you a pie. Period, the end. Do not argue with me. SHUTTUP, you get a pie.

Posted by: Amy-Go at August 26, 2006 6:40 PM

kasino online -

Posted by: kasino online at August 26, 2006 7:40 PM

Amen sister. It is much easier to believe that you did something wrong (however ridiculous the law or enforcement of such law is)than to have to accept the harsh reality of your complete innocence. If sweet, church going, novelist, wife and mother and American citizen can be arrested and go to jail for absolutely no reason then it could happen to anyone. You can sing it til the cows come home, but people will come away with the truth that they are comfortable with. I am really sorry for your pain, I know it all too well.

Posted by: K-Ann at August 27, 2006 1:55 PM

Oh, Peach Pie, I KNOW it was unjust. As a matter of fact, whenever I tell the story (which I have, twice, because I only know that many people who DON'T read your blog), I start it with, "OH MY GOD, did you know Joshilyn Jackson - you know, the author I keep telling you about - have you bought her books yet? - was UNJUSTLY ARRESTED? NO, IT'S TRUE!"
But right now I'm just happy because you quoted me. Technically, I suppose you plagarized, but it's still sweet to me. Good dog.

Posted by: Kira at August 27, 2006 8:24 PM

No pity party involved. I don't think the distinction is a minor one, nor do I think that the topic 'if you really had done something wrong' is appropriate. As far as I'm concerned it is the other side of the coin to 'Actions have consequences' as your response to being pulled over for speeding. The opposite side says, 'Excuse me, we got this all wrong and we apologize. It makes me irate. I think some nice lawyer who reads your blog should make it her or his personal business to take on your case pro bono.
I don't think just sucking it up is an acceptable solution. Come on lawyer type person! Jump on this and become a blog heroine or hero!

Posted by: Gillian at August 28, 2006 12:36 AM

Darling, I am so, so sorry about this, but let me tell you the upside: I read your blog about the arrest and thought to myself, "Self, you have GODS IN ALABAMA around here somewhere & haven't read it yet,and if it's half as compelling as this blog, you're a nitwit for not reading it." So I found it in my gigantic TBR pile & read it over the weekend, and IT'S WONDERFUL. And now I'm telling everyone to buy the book and read the book, and I'm buying copies for my daughters. That's the upside. You're terrific, and I wish you tons of success and ask only that you keep writing such excellent books.

And somebody needs to send this blog to your local gendarmes, newspaper and whatnot to see what happens. I'm just saying.

Posted by: Nancy at August 28, 2006 10:03 AM

Just for the record, I thought it was totally clear that you had fixed the situation and were wrongfully arrested. Just sayin'.

Posted by: jenn2 at August 28, 2006 12:09 PM

Don't know ya. . .and haven't heard of your book since I teach 6th grade reading and so spend a lot of time reading middle school literature so I can suggest good books. Came on over 'cause of your title. . ."Faster than Kudzu." That's a fine title for sure.

As I read of your unfortunate experience I got very uncomfortable that this can happen so easily--but I see it every day in Jr. High as well--innocent person caught in the cross fire of rules and regulation, blah, blah, blah.

So now I will go and read your book and put the latest middle school fantasy series on the back burner for a bit.

Posted by: Roxanne at August 29, 2006 7:18 PM

Looking at the bright side of your arrest...yes, there is one...


Posted by: Linda at August 30, 2006 10:37 AM

know exactly what you mean, same think happened to hubby in Austell about 8 years ago. Got taken to jail for driving on a suspended license except it shouldn't have been sespended. And the idiot thing was the judge didn't make him do any more jail time cause we had the paperwork to prove it was a mistake but it still cost us a bundle of money. Then they put out a new warrent for his address because he didn't serve the jail time the judge said he didn't have to serve. Lawyer had to clear it all up.

Posted by: mouse at August 31, 2006 3:03 PM

FIRST: You are entitled to whine. The whole situation sucks, and to be thought of as not having jumped through the many hoops that you dutifully jumped through is understandably infuriating. Especially because you were damn clear in your explanation.

SECOND: I second (hee) the idea of going to the newspapers, any local civil rights attorneys who might take this on pro bono, and even the ACLU. They may not be able to do anything, but you're a good candidate for an eye-catching case or news piece, which might then pressure the DMV into covering the fees. (Which - damn! That's crazy.) Even if they don't take on your case, it could help them know that this is an issue, and they might do some lovely class action thing down the line.

THIRD: I've got to echo what Julie said above - your situation clearly illustrates how the laws we have under the Patriot Act are really not designed to do anything but get people into prisons easily. Stupid laws, that can be implemented stupidly by stupid people, due to stupid bureaucratic mistakes.

Posted by: alice at September 1, 2006 12:21 PM