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UC Davis for all your pepper spray needs

A university just wasted $175,000 trying to scrub stories about a notorious 2011 pepper-spraying incident from the Internet. Blog posts like this are why that was a terrible waste of money.

Remember this golden oldie from Nov. 20, 2011? Here's what I wrote then:

In the decade since the 9/11 attacks, American taxpayers have spent millions of dollars in the name of homeland security turning municipal police departments into miniature armies, wielding everything from M-16s to tanks. The New York Police Department even claims it can shoot down a jetliner — anything to protect U.S. civilians.

Friday night on a college campus in Davis, Calif., the unfathomable happened — a group of students came under attack from a chemical agent. Two of them were hospitalized.

But those behind the incident had nothing to do with international terrorism. They were officers of the University of California-Davis campus police force, dressed in full riot gear, unleashing a barrage of pepper spray at point blank range against roughly 10 students who had locked arms on a sidewalk in an act of civil disobedience.

The shocking episode, which took place after the cops had ripped down tents belonging to students supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement, was captured on videos that quickly went viral, and sparked outrage from coast to coast.

"This is what happens when authority is unaccountable and has lost any sense of human connection to a subject population," wrote the Atlantic's James Fallows, a former speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter. He wondered how Americans would react if similar images were broadcast out of Syria or China, and he compared photos of the event to those of civil rights protesters fire-hosed by Birmingham's Sheriff Bull Connor in 1963.

You know who doesn't want you to remember the flurry of news coverage about this incident? Yup, UC Davis (how did you guess?). But here's what's truly amazing -- and unbelievably stupid at the same time. The university administration spent $175,000 in an effort to "scrub" the Internet so that prospective students searching for UC Davis info won't learn about the university's outrageous behavior, including the poor handling of the incident by university chancellor Linda Katehi.

Somehow, Katehi kept her job after the pepper spraying -- a mistake that was compounded by this caper lifted straight from the pages of George Orwell, inventor of "the memory hole." True, $175,000 isn't a lot in the multi-million sinkhole that is today's American university, but hey, maybe two or three lower income kids could have gotten their sheepskin, instead. Just my crazy idea.

Of course, UC Davis being a public university and all, Katahi's Orwellian crusade came out in the media. That meant the launching of 1,000 new articles and blog posts like this one, not to mention a slew of negative commentary about the school on social media. So that now, kids thinking about applying for admission to UC Davis for 2017 will learn that, as in the headline of this SEO-optimized blog post, that UC Davis is the place for all your pepper spraying needs.