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The ‘Well, Actually, Smoke Isn’t Even a “Gas”’ Defense

The Trump kakistocracy — including the president himself — is going all-in on the argument that federal police did not use “tear gas” against peaceful protesters to clear the way for Trump’s bible-holding photo-op Monday. Abigail Hauslohner, reporting for The Washington Post:

The U.S. Park Police had earlier released a statement defending that effort, saying that their use of chemical agents against the crowd came in response to violence from protesters, and that it involved “pepper balls” and “smoke canisters.” The statement went on to assert that “no tear gas was used” in the Lafayette Square incident. […]

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Riot control agents (sometimes referred to as “tear gas”) are chemical compounds that temporarily make people unable to function by causing irritation to the eyes, mouth, throat, lungs, and skin.” And, according to the CDC, “several different compounds” fall under this definition, and are employed by security forces, including military and police, in riot control situations.

Among others, they include chloroacetophenone (CN), more commonly referred to as “mace,” or pepper sprays — in other words, the compound that was deployed in Lafayette Square — and chlorobenzylidenemalononitrile (CS), “one of the most commonly used tear gases in the world,” according to an article in the British Medical Journal. These compounds are all typically referred to as “tear gas” because their most prominent effect is to bring on tears.

So the Trump defense is effectively, “Sure, we gassed peaceful demonstrators and news media from around the world with chemical agents that irritated their eyes, throat, lungs, and skin, but it wasn’t the high-test Tear Gas™ brand stuff that will really fuck you up so how dare you call it ‘tear gas’.

Good luck with that argument.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020