The gas leakage from Union Carbide's plant (UC) in Bhopal, in 1984 is the largest industrial hazard ever experienced in the world . Over 500, 000 were exposed to the gases; between 3000 and 10,000 people died within the first weeks; and between 100,000 and 200,000 may have permanent injuries.
The pepper spraying of eleven UC Davis students is a startling visual revelation of a pattern repeated over two decades: the widespread use of a potent chemical compound to subdue political protesters, prison inmates and inner city youths, in spite of numerous warnings by health officials of potentially life-threatening effects. The Davis episode shows that pepper spray has become a weapon of choice even for University of California police.
A regular guy named John Pike has become the new face of evil among people following the Occupy protests around the country. The UC Davis police officer's matter-of-fact pepper spraying of seated, obviously peaceful students has provoked justifiable outrage. James Fallows summed up the situation with his usual precise moral compass. "This is what happens when authority is unaccountable and has lost any sense of human connection to a subject population," he wrote. "That's what I think here."