So the current big story is a man, armed with a gun, walked into a pizza place to investigate whether or not children were being raped there.  This is reasonably bizarre.  What’s more bizarre is the story behind how he got there.

A few months ago one of Hillary Clinton’s closest aides, John Podesta, had his email hacked.  In the massive dump of emails that ostensibly came from him there were some that, if you squint just right a tilt your head just so, indicated he was involved in some kind of child pornography and/or child rape ring.  In certain spots on the internet, this was worth investigating and all sorts of evidence came up.  And by evidence I mean random, disjointed ramblings better suited for a montage scene in a movie where the filmmaker is trying to show you that this character is crazy.  There is no evidence.  There is no circumstantial evidence.  But if you make up your mind something is there, you will see it, regardless of anything else.

This is bad.  While the man who “investigated” the pizza place was arrested without signficant incident, he was carrying a loaded gun.  God forbid there was a good guy with a gun there and it turned into a shootout.  Or if he even dropped it and accidentally shot someone.  And there is a great deal to be made of the fact that this arose out of fake news articles that have been so prevalent lately.  But this is misleading.  Pizzagate is nothing new.  It’s an old pattern, one I see actually improving.

This is a witch hunt.  A bunch of made up evidence that could only be found by those who have already either been primed to hear it, or simply made up their mind before the fact.  I count at least four before this.  Each has been slightly less bad than the one before.  The original Salem witch trials were perpetrated by the highest ranking people in the society, officials who held both religious and political power.  Flash to the red scare of the McCarthy era and it was just the political power holders.  Then later to the bizarre Satanic rituals where the leading people were primary housewives with too much time on their hands and morning news anchors.  Now it’s pizzagate, and it’s people with no power whatsoever other than being able to send mean tweets.  

Don’t get me wrong, this is bad.  But it could be so much worse.  We, as a society, still haven’t figured out how to prevent witch hunts.  But we have managed to put them in the hands of lesser and lesser people.  I imagine it will take awhile to learn to ignore them, but, if history is any guide, sooner or later we will learn to.


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