WASHINGTON—Coming under fire for its unethical use of African Americans as test subjects, the U.S. government has faced criticism after revelations emerged this week regarding its decades-long Whoopee Cushion Project, which tested new pranks on Black people. “Beginning in the 1930s, federal authorities sanctioned a clandestine experiment to humiliate Black men and women by secretly placing whoopee cushions on their chairs, inviting them to sit down, and then, while feigning disgust, asking them if they had just farted,” said Rachel Wallace, a history professor at Georgetown University, explaining that the nearly 40-year project also involved flooding the African American community with fake gum wrappers that delivered an electric shock to people when they tried to take a piece, as well as canisters labeled “peanut brittle” that contained something very different. “These cans, when opened, released spring-loaded snakes into their unwitting victims’ faces—100% of whom were Black, and none of whom had provided their informed consent to the government’s researchers. We now know the FBI went so far as to deploy experimental pranks against the Black Panthers, once sending the revolutionary Fred Hampton a paper bag full of dog poop that had been set on fire, so that when he stomped it out, he got the poop all over his boot. The indignity these people were subjected to for the sake of ‘innovation’ in practical-joke science is absolutely horrific and amoral.” At press time, Wallace was reportedly dining in a D.C. restaurant when federal agents—seated nearby and using a telescopic prank fork extended to its full 25-inch length—swiped a rib-eye steak right off her plate.
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