I sent the linked article to a cop friend of mine, who told me that mace is an "intermediate weapon" (his term), on par with a tazer or baton but obviously below a firearm on the hierarchy of usable force.
Did the kid deserve it? Were the cops abusive? Can we ever know? And won't different people come to different conclusions, even given the exact same set of facts? I think we all know the answer to that last question.
One thing I like that the major Sacramento newspaper does is it allows comments on its online articles. As I write this post there are 99 comments (a suspicious number--I wonder if they cut them off at that point). Additionally, readers can hit a button saying if they found a particular comment useful; each comment has a note at the bottom saying "x of y readers found this comment useful". It's kind of a scorecard; make a stupid comment, you'll soon know.
Some of the comments discuss our loss of freedoms, the police state in which we live (yet we can still badmouth the police state, go figure), the poor darling children, etc. The ones most readers found useful were the ones along the lines of these:
"Kids need to learn to follow the directions of law enforcement officers."
"This is what happens when we let kids run amok, especially in schools."
In other words, they're what some would consider more conservative comments.
My friend the cop, though, liked this comment:
Why did they pepper spary this poor kid? Was there something wrong with their guns?
Oddly, only three of six found that comment helpful!
Here's another comment that sort of sums up, at least to me, a non-middle-class attitude towards the police:
Some of you really think a badge is a halo and a JOB makes you GOD, it's not a passport into heaven and you do not need to be worshiped AND I would NOT allow ANYONE to disrespect me, I don't have to "OBEY". I and that young man have a right NOT to be ASSAULTED BY PEOPLE WHO ARE TO PROTECT AND "SERVE" THE COMMUNITY.
No, honey, it's not a halo. It's a sign of authority, and you are required by law to obey. If you view that as disrespect, that's your problem, not the police officer's. If you feel that officers, in the course of their duties, act inappropriately towards you, you file a complaint. I did it once with a highway patrolman who spoke inappropriately to me at a courthouse once, and because I presented myself professionally, my complaint was considered and acted upon appropriately. Present yourself differently, and your complaint might very well be considered differently. You see, police officers are people, too, and they don't like disrespect any more than you do.
How bad must it be when officers feel it necessary to pepper spray a student? I'd say, pretty bad. Here's some demographic data on the school, and there's a button there to see academic performance. Not as bad as I thought it would be on either count, and they had two shootings in the same day there earlier this year and now this. I'm glad I teach at a more civilized school.