Some “Pizzagate” Notes

From CNN:

A suspect arrested Sunday with an assault rifle at a Washington, DC pizzeria admitted he had come to investigate an online conspiracy theory, Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department said Sunday evening in a statement.

…”During a post arrest interview this evening, the suspect revealed that he came to the establishment to self-investigate ‘Pizza Gate’ (a fictitious online conspiracy theory),” the police department said in a statement.

“Pizza Gate” is a name given to the online false news stories begun last month that charged the Comet Ping Pong restaurant and its owner were involved in a child sex operation. The owner has vehemently denied the charges, but they continued to proliferate online…

The report comes not long after the conspiracy was covered by the BBC:

In early November, as Wikileaks steadily released piles of emails from Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, one contact caught the attention of prankster sites and people on the paranoid fringes.

James Alefantis is the owner of Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant in Washington. He’s also a big Democratic Party supporter and raised money for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He was once in a relationship with David Brock, an influential liberal operative.

Alefantis – who’s never met Clinton – appeared in the Podesta emails in connection with the fundraisers.

…Despite the complete lack of physical evidence or victim testimony, there are reasons why the hardcore conspiracy theorists are particularly sensitive to allegations of child sex abuse.

It’s known, for instance that Bill Clinton and Donald Trump flew on the private plane of convicted child abuser Jeffery Epstein

I discussed Podesta emails in the days before the US election – Wikileaks did not just release the emails, but editorialised to encourage readers to believe that Tony Podesta’s association with a performance artist was evidence that the brothers were involved in bizarre occultic ritual activity. The online mob needed little encouragement: scars on John Podesta’s hands from an operation for Dupuytren contracture were interpreted as ritual wounds; and a photo of Podesta with a drawing of a fish on his hand to advertise the environmental protection of oceans was obviously “really” a reference to Osiris.

Alt-right conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich (1) then made the link to Epstein, while also drawing attention to diplomatic efforts on behalf of Laura Silsby, an incompetent and dubious “rescuer” of Haitian orphans who fell foul of the law when she attempted to remove orphans to the Dominican Republic. Can it be proven that the plan wasn’t to bring these children to Epstein? Meanwhile, other conspiracy theorists began looking for code words in John Podesta’s emails: thus a “hotdog” is in fact a “boy”, “cheese” refers to a “little girl”, and – perhaps most significantly for what has now followed – “pizza” refers to “girl”. This list has been passed around widely.

Meanwhile, a similar story linking Clinton to “sex crime with children” was published by a site called True Pundit, which falsely claimed that evidence had been discovered on Huma Abedin’s laptop. That story was promoted online by General Michael Flynn, a former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and now Trump’s choice for National Security Adviser. Flynn’s son has now waded into the fray, opining that “Until #pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story. The left seems to  forget #PodestaEmails and the many ‘coincidences’ tied to it.” Currently, Flynn Jnr is also promoting statements by one Jack Posobiec that the Washington suspect, Edgar Maddison Welch, is a “false flag”, based on the fact that he appeared in a film in 2009 and is therefore an actor.

A couple of British conspiracies are also now being brought into the mix: one item of fake news shows supposed police e-fits of the Podestas as suspects in the Madeleine McCann case (at least that gets Clement Freud off the hook), and the BBC News article on “Pizzagate” has been dismissed as misinformation from Jimmy Savile’s protectors. There is little point arguing with these sorts of conspiracy theorists, since they know as well as anyone that the links they claim to have discovered are either absurdly tenuous or downright fraudulent. Conspiracy theories offer a satisfying sense of superiority, while foul denunciations against individuals perceived as belonging to the “elite” make the accuser feel empowered. And some of the players are simply cynics, dumping fake news into the public sphere for political reasons – debunkers can be ignored, or the mob turned against them as needed. Those instincts are now endorsed by the man who is set to take the highest political office in the USA next month.

The BBC also highlights another element to the story: an unexpected Turkish dimension, as described by the Daily Dot:

In the last week, all Turkish pro-government papers, including mainstream publications like Sabah, A Haber, Yeni Şafak, Akşam and Star, ran similar stories about the PizzaGate, using the very same images and claims from a (now banned) subreddit to convince their readers on how serious and deep-rooted the scandal was. Columnists penned articles that the PizzaGate is a part of the globalist conspiracy against Turkey, and one article even remarked that the “Teenage” in pizza-eating Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles now makes sense as a pedophilia reference after PizzaGate.

…Timing of PizzaGate was significant in that it initially blurred the public debate abound the actual child abuse problem in Turkey. Back in March, when a real child abuse scandal was revealed at the government-linked Ensar Foundation, the perpetrator received a heavy jail sentence, but the government was spared from an investigation by a diluting the issue in the Parliament. This week, Erdogan’s party brought an even more controversial draft bill that would give amnesty to child abusers if they marry their victims.

UPDATE: A further report in the Washington Post explains that nearby businesses have also been assimilated into the conspiracy theory and are now facing threats of violence. These include another pizza restaurant, supposedly involved in child pornography because of a heart logo on its website (actually a fundraiser for a children’s research hospital), and a bookshop.

UPDATE 2: One person who saw the possibility of cashing in was none other than Milo Yiannopoulos, who promised a talk on “Pizzagate: The Deep Dish on Democrats and Pedophilia”. It’s not known if he intended to endorse the conspiracy theory or just use it as a springboard for a rant on something else, although he did previously promote the “Spirit Cooking” story.

Speaking to his audience at Miami University,  Yiannopoulos began by saying: “sadly when I announced I was going to be speaking about Pizzagate this evening, I got a number of phone calls with Washington D.C. area codes saying ‘not yet’.” Thus Yiannopoulos hints that he has inside information, and gives the impression that he is in communication with important people who also have extra information, which will be revealed in due course. These are the games of a self-promoting sociopath.

Excurcus

One irony in all this is that paintings by a British female artist known as Kim Noble (not to be confused with the British male artist and comedian of the same name) have somehow become mixed into the conspiracy. Noble is a schizophrenic who paints in a variety of styles, which she says relate to her different personalities, including one called “Ria Pratt”. As Ria Pratt, she has painted a number of impressionistic images of ritual sexual abuse against children, which she claims to have suffered as a child. These images have apparently been recognised as artistically noteworthy, and some are available to view on the Saatchi Art website.

It has been suggested that she also provided some artwork for the pizza restaurant, and that this is thus evidence that somehow supports the “Pizzagate” conspiracy. The implication seems to be that her paintings celebrate abuse, when in fact they are are the anguished images of someone who believes herself to be a victim, and who wishes to expose the horror of it all. It may be relevant here that Noble has spent a long time in therapy under Valerie Sinason, the UK’s leading proponent of the belief that therapy can recover memories of ritual sexual abuse. Sinason claims that two patients had disclosed to her in the 1990s that Jimmy Savile was a ritual abuser, although for some reason she did not mention this until other posthumous allegations against Savile appeared in the media.

Footnote

(1) Cernovich complains bitterly that he is not alt-right, and that claims to the contrary are “fake news”. However, in October wrote on Twitter (in a Tweet since deleted but which still comes up as a Google search result) that “I went from libertarian to alt-right after realizing tolerance only went one way and diversity is code for white genocide”.

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