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Pizzagate “researcher” arrested after firing an assault rifle in DC pizzeria

Guns: Worse than anchovies as a pizza topping
Guns: Worse than anchovies as a pizza topping

Comet Ping Pong, a Washington DC pizzeria, has been the central obsession of some of the Internet’s most, well, creative conspiracy theorists for several months now.

“Pizzagate” theorists have convinced themselves, on the basis of weird conjectures and bizarre leaps of illogic, that the pizzeria is the front for an international pedophile ring involving Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, and other political bigwigs. The owners and staff of Comet Ping Pong and several nearby businesses have been harassed and threatened by Pizzagate true believers since the theory first took form on 4chan.

On Sunday, one of these true believers showed up at the restaurant with an assault rifle, firing off several rounds before being taken into custody by police, who said he told them he was there to “self-investigate” Pizzagate. (Why his “investigation” required a rifle I don’t know.)  No one, thankfully, was hurt — most or all of those in the building apparently fled before the shots were fired — but the incident is a troubling reminder of the ways in which fake news can have real-life consequences. Sometimes involving guns.

The Pizzagate theory seems to be an almost pure product of “apophenia,” the tendency of human beings to find seemingly meaningful patterns in random data. In this particular case, Pizzagaters have convinced themselves that references to “pizza” and “hot dogs” in the giant pile of Podesta emails leaked by Wikileaks are actually coded references to child sex trafficking. The more baroque versions of the theory, harking back to the “Satanic Panic” of decades past, posit that there are Satanic rituals involving human blood and child rape taking place in secret tunnels beneath Comet Ping Pong.

But this is a Satanic Panic with a decidedly Trumpian alt-right twist. The theory has been pushed hard by a motley crew of alt-rightists and fellow travelers — from Infowars to the Daily Stormer, from Mike Cernovich to Theodore “Vox Day” Beale.

Somehow I doubt this will be the last time someone with a gun goes after an enemy of the alt-right.

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Weird (yeah, it CAN happen here) Eddie
Weird (yeah, it CAN happen here) Eddie
4 years ago

@ Lea, re: good dad

Well said!

@ Scildfreja, re: @losername

Thanx, you frame these issues so very well. And, thanx for the insight on “how brains work”, explains why logical thinking is so seldom logical!

Foreword to “Idiot America” (2009):

It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people we should trust the least are the people who know best what they’re talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a scientist, or a preacher, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.

So, it doesn’t matter how many authorities have said the Comet Ping Pong conspiracy is untrue, because those people are LYING… and the more of them that say it, the more we KNOW it’s true. It doesn’t matter how many times the Justice Department has said the allegations against the Clintons are false, because those people are LYING… and the more times they say it, the more we KNOW it’s true. It doesn’t matter how many researchers say the climate is changing, it doesn’t matter how much evidence NASA has that yes, we DID go to the moon, it doesn’t matter how many people say the Earth is NOT FLAT…. We know the Sacred Truth.

ETA: @ Subtract Hominem

Thanx, I didn’t brain EITHER of those!!

Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
4 years ago

Anyone else here old enough to be having Satanic Panic flashbacks?

Bina
4 years ago

Anyone else here old enough to be having Satanic Panic flashbacks?

Yep…And a lot of other “panics” that proved to be nothing, too. Remember when Dungeons and Dragons was the devil’s plaything?

Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
4 years ago

Oh, yes. D&D, Satan’s game.

“Roll the dice to see if I’m getting drunk!”

PeeVee the (Noice) Sarcastic
PeeVee the (Noice) Sarcastic
4 years ago

*Headdesk*

Ow.

My. Brain. Hurts.

Makroth - Agent of the Great Degeneracy
Makroth - Agent of the Great Degeneracy
4 years ago

They’re already calling it a false flag:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=0e4_1480893302

Just read the description if you don’t wanna hear his bullshit.

Lea
Lea
4 years ago

That Satnic Panic stuff was very real here in the Bible Belt.

I still meet social workers who think it was real.

PeeVee the (Noice) Sarcastic
PeeVee the (Noice) Sarcastic
4 years ago

Fucking LiveLeak.

Own the shit that assholes like you start!

Bloody moron Tamaran.

Lea
Lea
4 years ago

Propaganda works, y’all.

Ben
Ben
4 years ago

What always gets me about these “conspiracies,” beyond how scary the threat of stochastic violence is, is that they’re always so small and pathetic. Really, a child-trafficking ring that involves such massively wealthy, powerful, and influential people as the Clintons and their inner circle, and the linchpin is a modest restaurant? A restaurant run by a guy who has a nom de guerre that playfully references his illegal activities? And you really expect that some random guy is going to be able to walk in with a gun and just find all the children they’re hiding there? Really really?

I feel like it’s really telling that this is the biggest conspiracy that they can gin up. It’s not even on the level of something they saw in a Bond movie or on CSI, it’s something so basic and easy that they could imagine themselves doing it, if they were decadent and evil people like John Podesta.

sillybill
sillybill
4 years ago

@Weird Eddie,

FWIW, in the military and law enforcement it’s called ‘negligent discharge’

Weird (yeah, it CAN happen here) Eddie
Weird (yeah, it CAN happen here) Eddie
4 years ago

@ Bina

Remember when Dungeons and Dragons was the devil’s plaything?

I grew up in a VERY fundamentalist church… I remember when EVERYTHING was “the devil’s plaything” 🙂 🙁

@ All: Is “Satanic Panic the name of a band???

@ sillybill

Thanx! (… actually I thought “negligent discharge” meant I’d inadvertently peed my pants :$ )

Belladonna "Toxic Hag"
Belladonna "Toxic Hag"
4 years ago

I thought negligent discharge was a synonym for premature ejaculation. Either way, premature ejaculation might be a good metaphor for why this guy fired into the floor. He was just so excited that he couldn’t quite wait to point his gun in the air.

Falconer
Falconer
4 years ago

@Weird Eddie: Satanic Panic was this idea, back in the late 70s, early 80s, that day care workers were Killing Babies!! to Propitiate Dark Lord Satan!!!

Lots of people went to jail for nothing.

And it all comes out of the same desire to be doing something Heroic where all the Planned Parenthood protestors get their convictions that Babies! Are Still! Getting Murdered!!!

And there was an offshoot. Some college kid disappeared for a few days and the private investigator who tried to find him decided it was because of D&D. Some older teens killed a younger kid and the media discovered that the teens played Vampire The Masquerade so it must have made them do it.

hottotrotsky
hottotrotsky
4 years ago

It’s much easier to believe that you can be a hero without any hard work, and that The Others are putting 100% more effort into their crimes than the effort you’ll expend to thwart them than it is to consider that you’re just one little blink in the eye of geological time and that awful crimes are thwarted by massive collective effort which involves much harder work than committing those crimes in the first place because trying to do right involves ethics and planning and thought.

Note the effect that positivism has had in these sorts of things– the idea that anyone, anywhere is capable of objectivity is just asinine. But conspiracy theorists rely on assertions of their own objectivity as scaffolding for their ridiculous arguments.

Falconer
Falconer
4 years ago

Satanic Panic at Wikipedia.

Also, Belladonna beat me to it.

RosieLa
RosieLa
4 years ago

One of my all-time favourite conspiracy theories is Bohemian Grove – it is tangentially related to the Satanic Panic. I am quite sure that Bohemian Grove, if its narrative were to continue to grow, would manage to incorporate Pizzagate.

kupo
kupo
4 years ago

@Falconer
There was a larper who killed someone in my area maybe 20 years ago or so and the media tried to blame the larping. Of course.

Makroth - Agent of the Great Degeneracy
Makroth - Agent of the Great Degeneracy
4 years ago

OT: I just discovered this site has a G rating, at least for gravatars.

sillybill
sillybill
4 years ago

@Weird Eddie & Belladonna,
Ha! yes that’s exactly what we used to say in the Navy about wet dreams or PE.

weirwoodtreehugger: communist bonobo

Rosie La,

Since Alex Jones is a big proponent of the Bohemian Grove conspiracy theories, I imagine there is already a huge overlap between Bohemian Grove believers and Pizzagate believers.

Belladonna "Toxic Hag"
Belladonna "Toxic Hag"
4 years ago

And don’t forget that nasty piece of work Chris Pritchard who helped stain D&D.

The poor McMartins.

Hippodameia
Hippodameia
4 years ago

It was Flynn’s adult son posting about “Pizzagate.”

NicolaLuna - epic slut
NicolaLuna - epic slut
4 years ago

I’m so thankful nobody was hurt. But this isn’t the last time this is going to happen.

On Umberto Eco’s list of what defines a fascist it states that they have an army of people who will fight for them. Trump has this now. They’re organised differently these days because of the internet but they are definitely willing to fight for him.

I notice they gave zero fucks about him awaiting trial for having sex with a child though.

Bina
4 years ago

@Eddie:

Is “Satanic Panic the name of a band???

I dunno, but Manic Panic is the name of a fairly popular brand of hyper-colorful hair dye:

comment image

numerobis
numerobis
4 years ago

Canada is trying not to join the US, but it’s hard work:

http://www.ctvnews.ca/mobile/politics/chris-alexander-distances-himself-from-lock-her-up-chant-but-says-anger-is-real-1.3190140?autoPlay=true

Federal Conservative leadership candidate Chris Alexander says he “absolutely disassociates” himself from members of an Edmonton crowd who chanted “lock her up” in reference to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley outside the province’s legislature Saturday.

At the same time, Alexander tells CTV News Channel he doesn’t think it’s the job of “politicians or media to chastise a crowd who is saying something very spontaneously on the basis of real emotion,” adding: “The anger is real.”

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/montreal/quebec-far-right-la-meute-1.3876225

Inside Quebec’s far right: Take a tour of La Meute, the secretive group with 43,000 members
In the 1st of a series about Quebec’s far right, CBC News gets exclusive access to La Meute

The CBC just like any other mainstream news wants to paint the far right as sympathetically as possible.

Leftwingfox
Leftwingfox
4 years ago

numerobis: Won’t help them when it’s their turn against the wall:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/leitch-conservative-cbc-scrap-1.3866219

numerobis
numerobis
4 years ago

I’m surprised Harper wasn’t quite able to completely kill the CBC. But the CEO sticks around several more years, so even under Trudeau Harper will continue sabotaging it.

Leitch presumably wants Ezra Klein’s news to have more space in the market.

Scildfreja Unnýðnes
Scildfreja Unnýðnes
4 years ago

Ughhhh. Poor Rachel Notley. The NDP here are not doing badly! Their policies are okay! The jobs plan is reasonable! They’re frankly bending over backwards to try to get the economy rolling again. But they can’t make jobs out of thin air, and there are things beyond the economy that they have to be concerned with, too. They’re being punished for things that literally haven’t happened. All I can hope for is that the economy turns around before the next election. Last thing we need is the alt-right assholes thinking they’ve got a chance here.

Rona Ambrose is my MP. I should call her up and ask her what she’s doing to ensure that Trump style ‘politics’ isn’t gaining a foothold in her party.

numerobis
numerobis
4 years ago

They’re being punished for things that literally haven’t happened

The CBC comments started blaming Notley for the fall in oil prices *immediately* once she won. Even though oil prices had started plunging six months prior.

And of course they still blame PET and his son for oil prices stagnating in the 1980s and falling through the 90s. And in the same “breath” claim that Alberta has always been propping up the rest of Canada through equalization payments (so, did your economy suck or not? pick one).

Scildfreja Unnýðnes
Scildfreja Unnýðnes
4 years ago

But that’s impossible, numerobis! The CBC is the liberal media! They can’t possibly be biased towards the corporate status quo! Liberal socialist propaganda!

Siiigh. I’m gonna go hide under my bed again I think.

Steampunked
Steampunked
4 years ago

There’s a good article in the Guardian about this:

Pizzagate is a lie. But what it says about our society is real

The argument being made is that the majority of idiots promulgating these rumours do not believe them – while some do, and act, the majority are using the rumours consciously as a tool:

You know what they do believe? That Hillary Clinton – and liberals more generally –are their enemy. And because they have labeled them their enemy, they believe they are at war with them. And in this war they are looking for weapons. The internet, which has found a way to monetize their hate, has been happy to provide them with these weapons.

Not to mention that the idea that gullible people believe in Pizzagate would be preferable to:

When you look at scandals like Pizzagate, you should be sad and afraid, but not about how “gullible” the American public is. You should be terrified of how low some of us are willing to stoop – the lies some of us are willing to spread and the lives some of us are willing to risk and ruin – in order to destroy our political foes.

It looks heavily as if the people doing this kind of thing are specifically weaponising those who are inclined to believe conspiracy theories. The real conspiracy theorists who WILL act, because they HONESTLY believe these things and SOMETHING MUST BE DONE are rare. But the group happy to make use of them is much larger.

Expect to see more of this.

Ginormica
Ginormica
4 years ago

Wait, Donald Trump has had an actual lawsuit filed against him for raping a 13 year old girl and he has associated with wealthy pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, but these nimrods want to believe Hillary Clinton is the one involved in child trafficking?

Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy
Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy
4 years ago

@Steampunked,

I was just about to post and saw your link; I think this article is related in several ways (also from the Guardian). It’s about ongoing research into Google search results and algorithms that are not exactly innocent.

From a previous piece by the same author:

the right has colonised the digital space around these subjects – Muslims, women, Jews, the Holocaust, black people – far more effectively than the liberal left.

And this tidbit:

Cambridge Analytica, an American-owned company based in London, was employed by both the Vote Leave campaign and the Trump campaign.

Cambridge Analytica mines online data and targets users accordingly. Guess who’s on the board? Steve Bannon.

But hey, pizzagate is far more convincing… 😐

TreePerson
TreePerson
4 years ago

@Ginormica
The “logic” is that any allegations against trump are invented by some vast conspiracy (probably involving da juice) but even if it is true so what?

So its basically the same old party line on rape.

numerobis
numerobis
4 years ago

Scildfreja: by “CBC comments” I mean the comments on the website, not the opinion commentary. Many of them complain about the extreme left liberal bias of the CBC.

The opinion pages and the “energy” and “economy” reporters (aka oil, In both cases) are also rather retrograde, but at least they’re polite about it.

Peep
Peep
4 years ago

@Scildfreja

Poor Rachel Notley. The NDP here are not doing badly! Their policies are okay! The jobs plan is reasonable! They’re frankly bending over backwards to try to get the economy rolling again. But they can’t make jobs out of thin air, and there are things beyond the economy that they have to be concerned with, too.

I know right? Albertans are all too happy to ignore the fact that Notley has been trying to have pipelines approved since she came into power. The carbon tax heavily influenced the approval of Trans Mountain and Line 3; I’m sure if Notley refused to introduce one and the pipelines were subsequently scrapped, they’d complain that she isn’t doing enough to create jobs. (They also like to forget that our economy was in decline long before the election, and that Jim Prentice had said we had no one but ourselves to blame, the fallout from which was the entire reason for the 2015 election in the first goddamn place.) It frustrates me to no end how people in this province want to believe that oil will last forever and has zero negative impact on the environment, and if we just drill baby drilled all our problems would be solved.

Steampunked
Steampunked
4 years ago

@Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy

My visceral reaction to that news is:
SCREEEEEEEE!

It’s still fascinating, despite my response. I’m old. Old enough to remember newsgroups and netiquette, and while there were certainly bad as hell places, a lot of trolls were focused on things like managing to sneak ascii art of a penis onto a group. And even then, it was usually responded to by eye rolling and people trash-talking that specific person. Newsgroups could, and would be, heavily edited. Even if people had no clear idea of ‘who’ was in charge, the idea was that someone was and that they might be watching. And since less people were on it, your reputation did matter, and it mattered in a wider social context.

Sometimes Things Done on the Interwebs were absolutely dodgy from ethical and legal perspectives, and I used to support the whole Internet Must Be Free thing that the EFF held close to their hearts as a result. Censorship seemed to be the biggest enemy to us then, because in our bubble it never occurred to us that people would gang up to try to compel someone to suicide, or to call for the murder of women, etc.

We were all fairly naive. We hadn’t adapted to that world – we’d grown up in another where some cultural boundaries were thought to be immutable truths. And a lot of us are operating still from that mindset. Editorial control is BAD, freedom of speech is GOOD. The context for ‘we should leave Stormfront alone’ was ‘they’re fucking idiots no one will pay attention to’ because ‘knew’ the Fourth Estate would be around forever to educate the populace. And the Fourth Estate was seen as conservative, it was a threat to free speech, in some ways, but it was never going to widely publish that Nazis are a-ok. Also hacking Stormfront and similar groups was seen as a great and hilarious thing that the anti-EFF would likely look down on more than anything else.

The idea that in the end internet news and rumours, unmoderated and carefully adjusted, could take over normal news was unthinkable. Like taking the Fortean Times seriously. Even if a lot of us denegrated normal news, we still assumed it would continue to exist.

I’m probably talking to the choir…or I’m incoherent. I keep thinking about all this stuff!

@Ginormica:

Wait, Donald Trump has had an actual lawsuit filed against him for raping a 13 year old girl and he has associated with wealthy pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, but these nimrods want to believe Hillary Clinton is the one involved in child trafficking?

I wonder if there’s a vague ‘well if a dude is guilty then someone lied/made it up/it wasn’t that bad’ kinda thing going on, whereas that protection does not extend to women?

Bina
4 years ago

@Ginormica:

Wait, Donald Trump has had an actual lawsuit filed against him for raping a 13 year old girl and he has associated with wealthy pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, but these nimrods want to believe Hillary Clinton is the one involved in child trafficking?

Right. They’re glossing over an actual pedophile scandal because it involves one of their own, while picking on an innocent pizza parlor because it got mentioned repeatedly in some e-mails from some private server. The mind, it boggleth. Yea, verily.

Steampunked
Steampunked
4 years ago

@Peep

It frustrates me to no end how people in this province want to believe that oil will last forever and has zero negative impact on the environment, and if we just drill baby drilled all our problems would be solved.

Wonder how they’d feel if they knew how much work some of the big oil companies are doing into mitigating the effects of peak oil – aka pushing research into blue sky innovation in batteries, etc. The big guys are under no illusions about how long their power base is going to last, and are looking at leveraging people like that to help them move with zero loss of income.

Most of the big guys are going to survive the transition just fine, they are already diversifying. All they have to do is calculate the best time to cut off from oil related investments and then paint themselves over with a pretty green wash. Whatever they leave in their wake? Is going to be rubble as far as primary industry is concerned.

Handsome "Punkle Stan" Jack

… Since when have Channers and Redditors been against child molestation?

When they can use it as a bludgeon against people they hate because they know the majority of people don’t like child molesters.

Viscaria
Viscaria
4 years ago

Also when they can define child molestation so narrowly that the assault of a 12 year old girl doesn’t qualify.

A. Noyd
A. Noyd
4 years ago

losername says:

It’s weird how they seem to think that conspirators are going to intentionally broadcast clues everywhere.

But that’s how it works in the movies.

Angry Since 11/09/2016
Angry Since 11/09/2016
4 years ago

The sad part of me reading this article is that I’m not surprised at all. The unacceptable is now the norm in America.

Handsome "Punkle Stan" Jack

Samantha Bee’s show has a segment on fake news mentioning pizzagate and shit.

https://youtu.be/gXQyaUkg6eA

This fuck had is lying so hard. Just say you do it for the money, man, you slimy fuck.

mildlymagnificent
mildlymagnificent
4 years ago

And no one should overlook the kind of gullible conspiracy believer is likely to do when acting on that belief.

He said he was investigating. O reely? Where’s the kitbag full of teensy tiny cameras to instal in light fittings? And the voice activated sound recorders. And the night cameras (like the wildlife researchers use) to instal around the stairs, carparks, back alleys and entrances/exits to record the miscreants furtively skulking in and out of their secret gathering places.

Pffft. Who needs to investigate or gather evidence when you’re so thoroughly convinced by nothing at all?

proudfootz
proudfootz
4 years ago

I still remember the fake news about Iraq being involved with 9/11 and Saddam having WMDs. Tens of thousands of innocent people died because of that conspiracy theory.

Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy
Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy
4 years ago

@Steampunked,

Bloody hell, that was a brilliant post – thank you. I wasn’t involved with the Net in those days (I’m old enough, but was too taken up with shite going on elsewhere). The issues you raised are fascinating, especially re free speech, Fourth Estate, etc. – very, very topical.
I got a little over-excited… 🙂 this stuff resonates so much with my own research and some of the classes I teach.

@proudfootz,
I can’t believe I hadn’t even thought of that in the present context. Thanks for the reminder.

Queex
Queex
4 years ago

Victorious Parasol:

“I attack the darkness!”

That takes me back. Thinking about it, it was actually Stackpole’s Pulling Report that was my first brush with political/social engagement. It opened my eyes to how some people are very active in peddling harmful nonsense with real world consequences, and how organisations you hope would be sceptical of nonsense (police, social services) are all too easily suckered in.

It came to my attention because of RPGs. Imagine that, politics got spilled all over one of my hobbies and I managed to avoid becoming a knee-jerk evidence-immune harasser.

Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
4 years ago

@ Queex

Yay, somebody got the reference!