William Barr’s Bullshit Claim That Pepper Balls Are ‘Not Chemical’

Glenn Kessler, reporting for The Washington Post:

Here’s the full exchange between Barr and interviewer Margaret Brennan.

BRENNAN: There were chemical irritants, the Park Police has said —

BARR: No, there were not chemical irritants. Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. It’s not chemical.

BRENNAN: Pepper spray, you’re saying is what was used —

BARR: Pepper balls. Pepper balls.

But this is simply wrong. PepperBall’s website declares: “With multiple payload options and a proprietary chemical irritant that’s proven more effective from even greater distances, PepperBall projectiles offer the protection and versatility for any situation.” (The company did not respond to a request for comment.)

What’s that ingredient? It’s called pelargonic acid vanillylamide, or PAVA, a “synthetic” form of capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot peppers. Anyone who’s tried to insert contacts in their eyes after cutting hot peppers knows what that feels like. PAVA is mostly derived from synthesis rather than extraction from natural plant sources, according to the “Handbook of Toxicology of Chemical Warfare Agents.”

So basically Barr is trying to use “chemical” to mean “synthetic” or “artificial”, as opposed to “natural”. As if attacking peaceful protesters with natural hot pepper irritants would be OK. But that’s not even the case. They can’t even get their bullshit straight.

Monday, 8 June 2020