Most of you will have seen the images of police lieutenant John Pike pepper spraying seated protestors at an Occupy demonstration at the University of California Davis last week. It has stirred up controversy and commentary because of the perceived level of disregard Pike showed towards non-violent demonstrators. Note also those sprayed were middle-class American kids who have high expectations of their nation's legal and political system. They believe in things like due process, innocent until proven guilty and The Constitution.
The image has also become the basis of a multitude of photoshopped, mashed-up gags. Yep, it's a meme now and it's gone viral. With a handful of exceptions most of the examples I see when Google-searching "Pepper Spray Cop" seem to be rely on random juxtapositional humor rather than any actual wit. Who ever mashed-up Pepper Spray Cop with Crying Dawson deserves kudos for cross-pollinating a new meme with a very old one, but most of what's out there seems to be pointless; Pepper Spray Cop in a Charlie Brown cartoon, Pepper Spray Cop in the hold of the slave ship in Ben Hur and Pepper Spray Cop on the cover of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Worse still is the bleeding obvious Pepper Spray Cop at Iwo Jima and even Pepper Spray Cop sprays the Mona Lisa. The last one fails to raise even an enigmatic half-smile.
No doubt the week ahead will bring us Pepper Spray Cop vs the Nevermind album cover, Pepper Spray Cop vs the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Pepper Spray Cop vs The Shawshank Redemption. I hope this flow of dross will be relieved by the occasional flash of gold like Pepper Spray Cop at the signing of the Declaration of Independence (above).