The obvious lesson is that when the cops tell you to move, you should move.
I’m talking about the pepper spray at UC Davis. Over the weekend, some liberal-arts majors decided to occupy the sidewalk.
They did this to fight world capitalism.
Or the fact that people who do their homework get better grades.
Anyway, they ended up, sitting on their arses, linked arm in arm, blocking a sidewalk.
The police told them to move.
The police tried to pull them out of the way.
They wouldn’t budge.
That’s when the fiesta in a can was broken out. Pepper spray, baby.
And those young Obama supporters got a regular hosing. Officer Friendly walked up and down the line with his giant family size can of pepper spray just letting these hippies have it.
For that, he and another officer and the department chief and the college chancellor are about to be out of a job. The faculty senate has called for the firing of the chancellor and everybody else has called for the firing of the cops and the entire 10-campus University of California system is going to have a review of the role and tactics of campus police.
The video has gone viral – kind of like the reproductive tracts of some of these young communists – and newscaster after newscaster is aghast. It’s almost as if Joe Paterno had murdered Natalie Wood all over again. Any number of breathless lectures about the First Amendment and peaceable assembly have been given.
All of which is crap.
The Young Democrats have a right to protest, but they don’t have the right to shut down a campus or a sidewalk. Other people want to walk down the sidewalk, and they have the right.
Which gets back to my point: If the cop tells you to move, move.
The cops did nothing wrong. The officer with the spray simply used the technology and tool his employer provided. He was trying to enforce a lawful order to clear the sidewalk.
But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.
What I wanted to talk about is the obvious lesson this incident teaches. When I look at the photos and video that came out of this event, there is one thing that no one, regardless of his politics, can deny.
Namely, that pepper spray doesn’t work.
Think about it.
You have about 20 young Californians. All they have in common is a liberal disdain for the American way. They are of both genders and represent a general sample of the college-age population. Some of this type, some of that type, some of every type.
All sitting there, demanding that banks and corporations be burned and looted and that we all go live on collective farms.
My point is, these aren’t Green Berets. These aren’t rugby players. At least not all of them. They are just punk protesters
And they took a bath in pepper spray.
And they didn’t flinch.
The purpose of pepper spray is to create such unpleasantness for a person that they stop doing what you want them to stop doing. The goal is to overcome their will. The unpleasantness must trump their determination. Their commitment to hating George W. Bush and Republicans must be less than their discomfort at being sprayed.
When discomfort is greater than determination, they yield.
But these kids didn’t yield.
Not a one of them.
About 20 young people, of different backgrounds and fortitudes, and not a one of them bolted. They were getting a repeated dowsing with police-grade, crowd-control pepper spray and they not only held their ground, they didn’t cry out, writhe in pain or even flinch.
They stood their ground.
Which, in fairness, is a credit to their grit.
But it is also, in fairness, an indictment of pepper spray.
The stuff just doesn’t work.
At least it didn’t work on 20 political protesters.
Which begs a serious question.
If it doesn’t work then, when the stakes aren’t very high, how can anybody rely on it to work at other times, when the stakes are high?
I would think this demonstrates that pepper spray is an ineffective tool for law enforcement. It did not force compliance. It did not work.
And that raises serious questions about officer safety.
It also raises questions about the safety of any number of private citizens who rely on pepper spray for personal protection.
To be blunt, how many women walk through dark parking lots clutching a tiny, key chain pepper spray can? How possibly could that small quantity and delivery mechanism deter a determined attacker?
If political protesters aren’t dissuaded by high-strength police pepper spray, is a rapist or a robber or a murderer going to be deterred by a civilian with a can of pepper spray?
And that’s a big deal.
Because a great many Americans rely on personal pepper spray for self-defense.
After this video, anyone would be foolish to believe that pepper spray will do them any good whatsoever.
I disagree with the students, and I’m supporting the cops, and I hope this thing blows over soon. But the biggest thing I take away from this isn’t about the First Amendment, it’s about the Second.
If you want to defend yourself, don’t take pepper spray.