Is The Use of Pepper Spray Torture?

Yesterday digby discussed various cases of the use of pepper spray to argue that it is obviously torture.

Is it torture?

If it is torture but in some cases it could foreseeably prevent an altercation with greater likelihood of long term physical damage could it be justified nonetheless?  Is it only unjustified when applied to non-violent protesters, as we have seen in a troubling fashion of late, or does using a torturous level of pain to force compliance make it unjustifiable in any case whatsoever? Should pepper sprays, including mace, be made illegal as a weapon of torture?

What tactics would be morally and democratically permissible for dispersing protesters when their occupations go against private property laws or civil ordinances, etc.? Unless protesters’ rights to free assembly trump all other property rights and laws concerned with the orderly management of localities, presumably there must be some cases in which police should be allowed to force people to move from where they are. If the law can never lawfully force anything then how is it the law?

Amidst the much warranted outrage over various police tactics, I am interested in your thoughts on what constitutes torture and what, if any, tactics for forcing compliance with law could ever be moral or democratic?

Your Thoughts?

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