During Monday’s installment of Fox & Friends, Rob Colburn, president of the Border Patrol Foundation, downplayed the tear-gassing of asylum seekers and migrants by US Border Patrol agents on Sunday by comparing pepper spray with something you’d eat at a ballgame.
“To clarify, the type of deterrent being used is OC pepper spray. It’s literally water, pepper, with a small amount of alcohol for evaporation purposes. It’s natural — you could actually put it on your nachos and eat it,” Colburn said. “So it’s a good way of deterring people without long-term harm.”
Host Steve Doocy carried on with the interview as though Colburn’s comment were a totally normal thing to say.
On Fox & Friends, Border Patrol Foundation president defends pepper spraying latinx migrants because “it’s natural. You could actually put it on your nachos and eat it.” pic.twitter.com/QLdQXqqNno— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) November 26, 2018
Colburn’s comments were not the first time pepper spray — a chemical weapon that has been banned in warfare by nearly all nations, including the US — has been described as a food on Fox News.
After UC Davis students were pepper-sprayed by police during a nonviolent protest in 2011, then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly went on then-host Bill O’Reilly’s show and characterized pepper spray as “like a derivative of actual pepper. It’s a food product, essentially.”
As its name indicates, pepper spray consists of finely ground peppers suspended in alcohol. While it is possible to spray it on food, it isn’t advisable. In a piece headlined “These Guys Tried Using Pepper Spray in Place of Hot Sauce, and It Was a Really Bad Idea,” the Huffington Post wrote last year that while pepper spray can be treated as a hot sauce, “it’ll be spicier than any hot sauce you’ve ever had, and it’ll also be extremely bitter with a nasty aftertaste and none of that fruity flavor that even really spicy peppers have.”
While Fox News might want you to believe that pepper spray is no big deal, photographs of the scene on the Tijuana side of the US-Mexico border on Sunday depicted harrowing scenes of toddlers in diapers choking on tear gas.
“I felt that my face was burning, and my baby fainted. I ran for my life and that of my children,” Cindy Milla, a 23-year-old migrant who traveled from Honduras with her 10-month-old baby and 4-year-old son, told the Wall Street Journal.