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?

Patheos Atheist LogoLike Camels With Hammers and Patheos Atheist on Facebook!

Funishment
7 Exciting Announcements About My Online Philosophy Classes
Talk to Me For Free About Philosophy of Love, Philosophy and Suicide, or Nietzsche
A Directory of Philosophers From Underrepresented Groups
About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X