Pizza, pizza, get your piping hot pizza!

I had paid little attention to the "Pizzagate scandal" until a few days ago, when certain people forced it onto my radar.

As a trained researcher, I know not to pay too much attention either to the people who accept such stories uncritically, or to the people who reject them uncritically. A trained researcher does not "believe" or "disbelieve" his sources: he interrogates those sources and treats them as evidence of events that have occurred, and not as descriptions of events that have occurred.

So, for instance, no one should take the wild conspiracy theories emerging from the darker corners of the Internet at face value. Nor should anyone take an uncritical piece of garbage like this at face value. Amy Davidson basically declares there is not even any point in trying to figure out why the conspiracy theorists believe what they do: the conspiracy theory arose from nothing at all, and focuses on the things it does for no reason whatsoever.

But even completely false accusations are formed the way they are for some reason, and someone actually doing anything that could be called "journalism," rather than "smug dismissalism," would try to see if she can understand why.

Well, I took a few minutes off from my other work to see what I could turn up. One element of the conspiracy theory is that a band that has played at the pizza place, Heavy Breathing, is somehow involved with the scandal. Members of the band have received death threats, something that should not be happening even if they are the leading sex traffickers in the world.

But Comet Ping Pong, if they have music at all, probably have various bands in. Why would the conspiracy theorists focus on this one?

So, off to the band's web site. There I was met by an anus staring me in the face, and was immediately given the finger. I found a number of recordings of their songs, which seemed to be focused on sexual hedonism, dark magic rituals, sadomasochism, and other unsavory topics.

And then I found this. (I am going to describe what I am seeing in case the band yanks the image down.) The first thing that struck me was that anyone over eight or nine years old would look at the image of the young boy holding an extremely phallic object up to his open mouth as a little bit... suggestive? If I were the band, and an artist brought me this drawing for my website, I would immediately say, "What the hell is that? It looks like a young boy practicing fellatio!"

"But... I didn't mean anything by it!"

"Whether you did or not, get it the hell out of the drawing that is going to go on my band's website!"

The song's title is "All the children," and the image posted to go with this song also depicts a couple of children... crawling around. "That's all they are doing," I told myself, "just crawling. Don't jump to conclusions."

So next I played the song. Some of the lyrics I just can't decipher, but the ones I can are: "I want to take it up their way, push it," which are repeated many times.

OK, now I definitely don't see those kids just crawling anymore. When you name your song "All the children," sing over and over that you want to "take it up their way" with all these children, and show children down and their hands and knees... no, they no longer look like they are just crawling.

This most certainly does not "prove" that there is a pedophile ring associated with this pizza place. Since fortunately there are very few pedophile rings, I think it still leaves it very unlikely that there is a pedophile ring associated with Comet Ping Pong.

Here is what I find more likely: what we have are some garden-variety degenerates, who thought it would be very amusing to "Épater la bourgeoisie" with a song expressing a longing for anal sex with children. Unfortunately for them, some people did not "get the joke."

The death threats are awful, and should stop. But treating evil as an amusing joke with which sophisticates can snicker at rubes with traditional morals is also a terrible idea, and it can come back to haunt you.


  1. My theory is that PIzzagate started as a prank to see how ridiculous a conspiracy theory can be and still be believed.

    1. I find it highly unlikely that there is a pedophile ring operating from the pizza restaurant. (But not impossible: illegal businesses regularly use legal businesses as a cover, e.g., the ice cream truck vendors who have been convicted of selling drugs, or the deli near me that is actually a numbers racket.)

      But I *do* think the accused liked to play around with shocking the "rubes" who believe in conventional morality, and so gave the conspiracy theorists material to work with.

  2. I, too, find that the #pizzagate scandal has generated one of two schools of thought: Complete acceptance or Complete dismissal. And, the absolutism of both are drowning out any meaningful critical analysis. So, thank you for your work here. Please check out my recent blog when you have a chance.