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Duly Noted

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2011, 8:47 am

Fox News Anchor: Pepper Spray is “Essentially a Food Product”

By Lindsay Beyerstein

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wstryder, Creative Commons.

Last Friday, police officers pepper sprayed a group of UC Davis students at point blank range as they crouched arm-in-arm in their quad, practicing non-violent civil disobedience against tuition hikes:

Protesters who covered their faces were sprayed under their shirts, and Kamran says one student vomited profusely after being sprayed directly in the mouth. "It was such an intense feeling. It felt like acid was being poured on our faces," says Kamran, a philosophy and comparative-literature major. "I was basically immobile and in a lot of pain." [TIME]

Video of the incident went viral over the weekend, sparking international outrage.

Some concerned citizens found a creative outlet for their fury: photoshopping a pepper spray cop into great works of Western art. My personal favorite is Spray Cop blasting a corsetted park-goer in Seurat's 1884 pointillist masterpiece Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte. 

The creativity didn't stop there. Fox News host Bill O'Reilly had anchor Megyn Kelly on to discuss dismiss the incident. Kelly speculated that the pepper spray must have been somehow diluted because the students didn't scream and writhe enough.

Asked to explain what this pepper spray stuff is, and why these kids are just a bunch of whiners, Kelly replied, "It's like a derivative of actual pepper. It's a food product, essentially."

By that logic, the deadly poison ricin, the favorite weapon of sadsack terrorist wannabes everywhere, is no biggie because it comes from the same plant that gives us castor oil.

And waterboarding is A-OK because H20 is an essential nutrient. At least Fox News has been consistent on that point.

Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times' City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (, a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.

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