The Upshot

Megyn Kelly’s pepper spray comments spark backlash

Pepper spray, its effects, and its appropriateness continue to be top of mind in the media.

Following the protests at UC Davis, during which Occupy protesters were sprayed with pepper spray by a campus police officer, Fox News commentator Megyn Kelly went on the Bill O'Reilly show.

Kelly appeared to downplay the physical effects of pepper spray. Kelly said pepper spray is "like a derivative of real pepper. It's a food product essentially."

Maybe so, but her comments have sparked a spicy backlash. A petition is circulating on the Internet that suggests Kelly should put her eyeballs where her mouth is by getting sprayed with the substance on live television. Currently, more than 16,000 people have signed the pledge. Kelly herself notes in the interview that the spray is  "obviously invasive and obtrusive and several [people] went to the hospital."

Over the past 24 hours, Web searches for "megyn kelly" and "megyn kelly pepper spray" soared more than 1,000%. Additionally, related lookups for "what is pepper spray" and "pepper spray ingredients" also spiked into breakout status.

Numerous blogs have popped up to explain exactly what is in pepper spray. According to a recent entry from KQED, "high doses of some of the chemicals in pepper spray can produce respiratory, cardiac and neurologic problems, and even death."

HowStuffWorks explains that "the active ingredient in pepper spray is oleoresin capsicum (OC), a natural oil found in many types of hot peppers including cayenne peppers and other chili pepper." One milligram of capisicum can cause blisters on the skin.

As the Washington Post points out, this isn't the first time someone has sluffed off the effects of a unpleasant (to say the least) physical experience. In the past, a number of people, including Stephen Colbert and Jesse Ventura, called on Vice President Dick Cheney to try being waterboarded. Cheney was an adamant supporter of waterboarding and the results he contends the process delivered.

The investigation into the attack on the Davis protestors is ongoing. The police officer who used the pepper spray is currently on leave and has been the subject of an Internet meme, placing him (and his can of spray) in various historical locations. Look, there he is with the founding fathers.

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