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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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Falconer
5 years ago

Presumably he felt like he needed to be heavily armed in case he found the child molesters in residence.

Jesus, why can’t people stick to Dungeons & Dragons for all their white-knighting fantasies?

Allison McLemore
Allison McLemore
5 years ago

Is there any way this pizzeria can sue the media sites promoting the false story? Pay damages or prove its true!

leftwingfox
leftwingfox
5 years ago

You missed a name:

Even Michael Flynn, a retired general whom President-elect Donald Trump has tapped to advise him on national security, shared stories about another anti-Clinton conspiracy theory involving pedophilia. None of them were true. But the fake stories and threats persisted, some even aimed at children of Comet Ping Pong employees and patrons.

(Edit: Missed a word in there; will explain below)

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
5 years ago

You know what confuses me about all this?

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

leftwingfox
leftwingfox
5 years ago

Clarification: The Post story had Flynn posting other conspiracy theories relating to pedophilia, not necessarily #pizzagate.

This doesn’t absolve him in any way. It’s every bit as detached from reality as pizzagate, and many people will use his conspiracy theories as evidence reinforcing the validity of pizzagate.

This is one of the biggest dangers of normalizing out politicians. I think a lot of the press has deluded themselves into believing that when Republicans spout ridiculous bullshit, people will see that it’s ridiculous bullshit without being told so. That way they don’t open themselves to criticism of partisanship when they try to independently confirm those statements.

Troubelle: Moonbeam Malcontent
Troubelle: Moonbeam Malcontent
5 years ago

…Welp.

That’s all I can really say.

Ooglyboggles
Ooglyboggles
5 years ago

I foresee a whole lot of false flag crying and lone wolf comments in the future.

Podkayne
5 years ago

I’m imagining living or working within 3 square kilometers of that pizza place, knowing full well that 1) everyone is entitled to guns, and 2) some of these guns can send a round through several brick walls before it loses velocity.

Of course, these guys with the pedoring conspiracy can imagine it too, except it gets their pulse racing for different reasons.

Just what does your reality look like, when taking the chance to potentially shoot multiple abused children makes you the good guy, I wonder.

Ooble
Ooble
5 years ago

I feel super bad for the owners/staff of that pizza place. That’s all just… really really awful. Wow.

Zatar
Zatar
5 years ago

I’m….disturbed by the fact that this kind story isn’t really shocking to me anymore. Hell when I first started hearing about this one I automatically assumed it would be a mass shooting and was relieved that it wasn’t. Its pretty fucked up when the lack of a mass shooting is the surprising part of a story.

Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
5 years ago

How many more stories like this are we going to see between now and the inaugural?

Somehow, I can’t see Trump visiting and offering comfort if things go pear-shaped.

On another note – David, did you hear about this?

http://www.wvgazettemail.com/news-education/20161202/gee-responds-to-breitbart-writers-attack-on-wvu-professor-

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

Just what does your reality look like, when taking the chance to potentially shoot multiple abused children makes you the good guy, I wonder.

For the “grab my gun and check it out” type of mindset, the chance to potentially shoot innocent people isn’t considered at all. This is a mentality that holds that simply by owning a firearm and practicing with it (two or three magazines on a weekend ought’a do it), I’m automatically the good guy, and automatically skilled enough to shoot only the bad guys. Hell, I’m John Rambo. The thought that a round might go through a wall is lost on some of these people.

I feel super bad for the owners/staff of that pizza place.

Run afoul of the Alternate Reality Industry and you’re guilty for life.

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
5 years ago

Legal question: Since this garbage originated on Reddit, and Reddit’s made less than no effort to shut it down, can the pizzeria owner sue Reddit?

Probably not, I just want to see somebody sue Reddit.

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

@ V.P.;

From the article

The College Republicans said they stand by their decision to bring Yiannopoulos to WVU.

I’m sure they did, and eloquently, did they stand by their decision to invite a hateful ideologue to campus.

“Just because someone doesn’t like what someone says, doesn’t make it hate speech…

No, the content of the speech is what makes it hate speech, and I would bet long odds that the hateful nature of the speech is what prompted the invitation.

“Many in the organization agreed with most of what he said…

What the fuck is WRONG with them???

We thought the event was great and would do it again.”

No doubt you will, and if there is mercy in the universe, you and Milo will eventually nauseate enough people that you will both cease to be welcomed on campuses throughout the universe.

Iseult The Idle
Iseult The Idle
5 years ago

@Scented&c,

Anyone can sue anyone, really. Would they win? That’s a trickier question.

Did they ask Reddit to remove posts alleging criminal activity? Probably. We know they reached out to several sites. Did Reddit comply to the best of their ability? Unknown.

The genie doesn’t go back into the bottle. Even if Reddit/4chan/whoever removed the original story, it was out there, creating mayhem like a good little anarchist genie. Do they bear responsibility for that? As far as I’m aware there’s no settled case law on who’s responsible for what on the Internet. Are they obliged to release information about their posters? Not without a court order, and even then they could fight it if they chose to do so.

Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
5 years ago

Watergate was the name of the hotel!

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

@ Axe;

I remember it well, there was a blurb, headline ‘n’ a couple lines of text, in the papers the next day to the effect of… “… an apparent break-in at Democratic Party Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel last night, at least one arrest…”

ETA: The extension of the name “x-gate” to every scandal in creation comes from the name becoming synonymous with “Watergate the Coverup”

Joe Klemmer
Joe Klemmer
5 years ago

FWIW, the local news report says one shot was fired into the floor.

Falconer
5 years ago

@Weird Eddie:

And it became synonymous with the Watergate coverup because Nixon’s speechwriter William Safire started labeling every little bit of DC gossip a “-gate” in hopes that Nixon’s actions would be diluted with all these little things.

Hashtag Ravenclaw
Hashtag Ravenclaw
5 years ago

So this is the new normal. I’m glad no one was hurt this time, but it’s probably just a prelude for what’s to come. I’m reminded of the Planned Parenthood shooter spouting bullshit about “baby parts”, but people attacking abortion clinics is nothing new. Now it looks like things are about to get even more ludicrous. A pizza place? Really?

Ever since Gamergate, I’m very suspicious of any controversy or scandal ending in “-gate”. If nothing else, we can hope to see the retirement of that suffix in serious conversation.

Zatar
Zatar
5 years ago

Hashtag Ravenclaw:

God yes. Ever since Gamergate its looked toxic. Since long before Gamergate its been not nearly as clever as the person saying it thinks it is.

iknklast
iknklast
5 years ago

For the “grab my gun and check it out” type of mindset, the chance to potentially shoot innocent people isn’t considered at all

I imagine they are able to convince themselves that, if someone gets shot accidentally, that must have been a person who was not innocent. Because a “good guy with a gun” is only going to shoot “bad guys”, they will find something to rationalize their action.

FWIW, the local news report says one shot was fired into the floor.

The floor? What did that floor ever do to him? It was just lying there, minding its own business, when someone comes along and shoots it for no good reason. Perfectly innocent floor!

CriticalDragon1177
5 years ago

David Futrelle,

This is like something out of really dark R rated comedy.

Eyes on the Right
5 years ago

Gaters gonna gate.

leftwingfox
leftwingfox
5 years ago

Hashtag Ravenclaw:

Heck, Bloom County was calling out the “-gate” suffix back in the 80’s.

http://www.gocomics.com/bloomcounty/2012/11/08

(Go Comics lists the reprint date, rather than the original run date)

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