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  • Clarke Wallace

ENOUGH TO BRING ON TEARS

You’ve seen or read how public protests in the United States get out of control when the proverbial whatever hits the fan. In come the plastic-masked police wielding clubs and beat the hell out of the protesters. When the cops find themselves outnumbered, they call for backup. The Army Reserve.


That’s when cannisters are tossed into the unruly crowd, according to Anna Feigenbaum writing in the Globe. The cloud or mist they eject burns faces, irritates eyes; noses running and these poor souls are choking for breath. That’s what happened to the crowds protesting outside the White House recently.


Tear gas! Did anyone tell us it's a toxic substance? That’s how it works. Indiscriminate. Painful. Terrifying. It leaves those putting up a fuss with no protection.


It was used by the Allies against German troops in the First World War. It had devastating consequences. As Ms. Feigenbaum put it, “How did this chemical weapon move from the trenches in World War One into modern city streets today?”


“How did it become normal to quell a protest with a toxic gas?”


Tear gas, it seems, isn’t a gas at all. It’s chemical compounds made up of particles, of fine powder or tiny droplets of liquid released directly as a spray, smoke or fog’.


Mind, there are several varieties produced by different manufacturers. The most normal form: chlorobenzalmalonitrile. Or C2 for short. When released from a projectile canister, tear gas irritates the eyes, skin, lungs, she tells us, and mucous membranes.


Author’s comment: Who’d ever think a chemical from World War One, in many cases maiming or even killing soldiers? Yet it has a seal of approval for the deployment of tear gas by domestic police forces, despite its continued illegality in international warfare. Yep, That’s enough to bring us to tears.

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