DC Trawler

Leave Comet Ping Pong Alone

People believe a lot of weird conspiracy theories: The moon landing was fake. Bush did 9/11. Obama was telling the truth when he claimed he was born in Kenya. J.J. Abrams knew all along how they were going to end Lost. There’s all sorts of bizarre nonsense out there. For whatever reason, people choose to comfort themselves with this stuff rather than face reality.

One of the weirder ones is the recent phenomenon known as “Pizzagate.” Somehow, people have gotten it into their heads that… Well, just read this. Faiz Siddiqui and Susan Svrluga, WaPo:

A North Carolina man was arrested Sunday after he walked into a popular pizza restaurant in Northwest Washington carrying an assault rifle and fired one or more shots, D.C. police said. The man told police he had come to the restaurant to “self-investigate” a false election-related conspiracy theory involving Hillary Clinton that spread online during her presidential campaign…

Police said 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch, of Salisbury, N.C., walked in the front door of Comet Ping Pong and pointed a firearm in the direction of a restaurant employee. The employee was able to flee and notify police. Police said Welch proceeded to discharge the rifle inside the restaurant; they think that all other occupants had fled when Welch began shooting…

The restaurant’s owner and employees were threatened on social media in the days before the election after fake news stories circulated claiming that then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief were running a child sex ring from the restaurant’s backrooms.

I’ve been to Comet Ping Pong, which is just up the street from the horrendously expensive apartment where I lived in DC. (It was the only building I could find on short notice with a wheelchair ramp.) It’s just a harmless hipster pizza joint with so-so food and overpriced craft beers. And of course, the titular ping pong tables. I went there a couple of times over the four years I lived in DC, but I never heard about any pedophile ring. Let alone a pedophile ring being run by Hillary Clinton and John Podesta. Seems like people would’ve noticed something like that.

Unless, of course, all the employees and customers are complicit. They’re in on it. Which means… so am I! Clearly, I’m just covering up for the obvious Clinton-run pedo ring, and I’ve been lying this whole time when I claimed I hated her guts and didn’t want her to be president, and so on, and so forth.

Conspiracy theories, man.

Here’s an idea: Stop accusing the proprietors of this small business of being pedophiles. They’ve done nothing to deserve this. It’s really crazy, and now it’s attracting crazy people. I don’t like Washington, DC any better than you do, and I’m certainly no fan of Clintonworld. But how about we all focus on their myriad of sins in the real world, rather than the ones that people are making up on Reddit or wherever?

Or, to put it in terms you might understand: I’m as skeptical about Clinton’s pizza-place pedo ring as I am about this wave of supposed pro-Trump hate crimes. Suspicions aren’t evidence. Rumors aren’t facts. You are being manipulated.

Okay, now you can yell at me for “covering up the truth.” I’m sticking to my New Year’s resolution not to read the comments, but I’m sure they’ll be great.

(Hat tip: Twitchy)

P.S. Just as I reject that crap, I also reject this crap:

Edgar Maddison Welch is white, and he believes a nutty conspiracy theory about white people, so that makes him… a white supremacist? #lolwut

P.P.S. The great Jim Geraghty notes:

This guy sounds like he graduated from the Yosemite Sam School of Forensic Investigation, and if he hadn’t shown up at the doorstep of this restaurant, he would have shown up at the gate of Edwards Air Force Base asking about the aliens at Area 51 or stomped around the Pacific Northwest hunting Bigfoot. Blaming “fake news” implies a warning to everyone, “don’t write or say something that could set off some nut-job.”

I’d take the hysteria about “fake news” a lot more seriously if it weren’t coming from the same people who spread “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and pushed fake documents about Bush’s National Guard service. Yes, the guys who keep spreading this fake news are A-holes. No, they’re not responsible for this man’s actions. You can fight back against conspiracy theories without absolving people for what they’ve done.

Unless you also think the Southern Poverty Law Center is responsible for the actions of Floyd Corkins?