Pepper Spray and Star Wars (May the Excessive Force NOT be with You!)

I only caught a glimpse of the news about the use of pepper spray on Occupy protesters at UC Davis while I was away at the AAR/SBL Annual Meeting. I learned more about it on the plane back, and already began reflecting at that time on how the incident relates to Star Wars. I have long assumed that the reason that droids are not allowed in the bar in Mos Eisley is not just that they take up space that could otherwise be occupied by paying customers, but also that they could record and play back any conversation that takes place in that “hive of scum and villany” – many of which conversations the participants would not like recorded and handed over to law enforcement.

The UC Davis pepper spray incident illustrates the power of technology to not only fight crime, but fight abusive use of power which might otherwise not be identified and treated as crime.

I wonder whether in the Star Wars universe videos of stormtroopers behaving badly ever go viral, or whether rebels circulate parody videos of the representatives of the Empire. That is what has happened in this case, with lots of memes of images of Lt. John Pike, the pepper-spraying cop, circulating and going viral around the internet.  Images of this sort are an attempt to poke fun at and ridicule the guilty, and in so doing deflate them of the respect, authority or power that they might otherwise wield. When authority uses its power in an excessive, abusive, or tyrannical fashion, it is self-defeating.

Thanks to Striking Thoughts for the image of Yoda being pepper sprayed. It actually can be used to make an important point. If the Occupy protesters were to resort to violence in response to the pepper spray incident, it would be like a Jedi responding with anger to being pepper sprayed by a Sith. If you respond to the dark side by turning to the dark side, it is ultimately a victory for them, not for you.

You can find some of the other internet meme images at BuzzFeed. Here are just a couple more, one of which relates specifically to religion, the other of which relates specifically to the dark side

  • Bob Patterson

    By staying passive the OWS protesters won the day and then some.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Following Obi-Wan’s example.

  • Reyjacobs

    Nobody but the radical communist left could get away with camping out in city parks for months at a time.  Its time their above the law status be revoked, and they not only be pepper sprayed, but shot with rubber bullets if they refuse to leave the parks, which city ordinances make it illegal to CAMP in.

  • Gary

    “Its time their above the law status be revoked”…as soon as the Head of UC Davis is fired. Waiting, waiting…they ended the Vietnam War, and got blacks into public schools back in the 60′s. They didn’t revoke “peaceable assembly”.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    And even at such point as the removal of protesters becomes necessary and is lawful, surely simply dowsing them with irritants is not the next step. If the police sprayed jaywalkers or anyone else guilty of violating the law with pepper spray, but not in an instance of giving expression to a view on economics that you disagree with, I suspect that you might object, Reyjacobs.

  • Gary

    I also consider a college campus in a different status. Sit-ins to protest the Vietnam war was an expression of free speech. College is suppose to develop and promote free thinking. The students were protesting the increase in student tuitions. While the UC regents pull in a salary, bonuses, and extra pay from sitting on company boards, that would make lowly professors blush. Chancellors as well. UC Davis is a state school, not a private, expensive Ivy league school.

  • Gary

    One last comment for me, and I’m done. I was on campus in the 60′s, and the protests then and now have a lot in common. “shot with rubber bullets”…why not real bullets? Then we have a Kent State (I assume Reyjacobs is familiar with the Ohio campus). I can see a possible similarity with the 60′s again. If the peaceful protests are met with violence, then just like with Kent State, the supporters of violence will lose their cause. So continue the violence, and you will lose.


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