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[flagged] Why Are Right-Wing Conspiracies So Obsessed with Pedophilia? (motherjones.com)
25 points by tosh 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 36 comments

While the article does a great job outlining the motivations (fear of X, etc.) from a movement participant, I think there is a far easier answer to the headline question if looked at from a movement organizer perspective:

It's hard to argue against pedophilia.

If you argue against another conspiracy theory (e.g. flat earth), the worst thing that will happen is that theorists label you as "part of the system" (or whatever) and everyone not directly subscribing to the theory will laugh it off.

If you argue against a pedophilia conspiracy theory, the theorists will quickly label you as someone defending pedophilia, or a pedophile yourself. If even people that don't directly subscribe to the theory hear that, there is a serious risk of social exile. This makes it incredibly risky to argue against it.

This is actually a fairly good point, and the required intellectual tap dance required to safely defuse a "strange bedfellows" (no pun intended) tainting of your rhetoric is heartfelt and only likely to be pulled off by someone completely genuine in their commitment to a cause, generally of the variety of "and liberty for all" where all by definition includes even the prospective pedophiles who haven't been investigated or caught yet, and no, catching them is not worth the false positives or abuse engendered by authorizing wholesale violation of civil rights.

There is also the aspect to it that predation on children is generally the ultimate societal affront. We toil everyday not just for ourselves, but to create a world for our descendants better than our own. Pedophilia, in that sense, taps into the same aversion that make things like cannibalism of children a taboo subject.

its also a great way to get an otherwise uninterested (at least initially) LARGE group of people with free time on their hands to get enrolled and spread it further via social media.

Bored housebound carers of children.

Almost all mainstream media outlets label pizzagate as a conspiracy theory with no repercussions. It's not hard to argue against unsubstantiated accusations of pedophilia.

The downfall of that conspiracy was to have it involve pizza. Americans just won't let such an important part of our life be besmirched.

At the same time child marriage is conservative cause.

Child marriage is "extremely prevalent" in U.S.: "The cycle perpetuates across generations" https://www.cbsnews.com/news/child-marriage-united-states-do...

>"In Kentucky, we found a 13-year-old girl married off to a 33-year-old man, a 15-year-old girl married off to a 52-year-old man — I could go on and on to give you these horrific examples of these children who were married off to their rapist," she said. "It's horrific and it has to stop now."

I'm familiar with teen marriages and the laws/regulations that allow it in the US, and elsewhere. I know it is possible with a court consent in Australia (where I grew up) from 16, and it is the same here in France (where I live now).

I'm unfamiliar with the notion that child marriage is a conservative cause. Do you mean in the context of religious freedom? Are there conservatives who push for child marriage in unambiguous terms?

It seems to be evangelical issue.

Op-Ed: Roy Moore’s alleged pursuit of a young girl is the symptom of a larger problem in evangelical circles https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-brightbill-roy-m...

Banning child marriage in America: An uphill fight against evangelical pressure - Kentucky's bill had to change to accommodate religious concerns. A similar bill is dying in Tennessee. https://www.salon.com/2018/03/11/banning-child-marriage-in-a...

The headline poses an easy question - as the article notes, between Epstien and the occasional Catholic Church scandal it looks like there are some very powerful people around the world who are, bluntly, pedophiles.

Given the lists of names involved, it is safe to assume some sort of conspiracy is going on. The rumours are fabricated and not plausible, but there is a real kernel of truth to them.

Pedophilia conspiracies are up there with "Government spying on everyone!" as quite likely a fact as some level, even if nobody can point to any specific evidence. It probably isn't that sprawling but really who knows once the billionaires and politicians get involved. It is plausible, the pedophiles have the motive, there is circumstantial evidence. Prince Andrew appears to still be in the naughty corner at the moment.

> Given the lists of names involved, it is safe to assume some sort of conspiracy is going on.

It is not safe to assume that. The fact that powerful person A and powerful organization B were both involved with pedophilia does not in any way imply that there was an overarching conspiracy involving them.

A powerful organisation being involved is, almost definitionally, a conspiracy.

> occasional Catholic Church scandal

"It was found that from 1990 to mid-2018, abuse reports about 382 priests were made to the Church, with 625 children, mostly under 16, sexually abused by members of the Catholic clergy"

And that's just one country, Poland [0].

1,000 identifiable victims ... just in Pennsylvania [1].

So "occasional" is not the qualifier I would use. Maybe "pervasive" is more accurate?

But none of this explains why this is a central topic of right-wing conspiracy thinking. The Catholic Church in the US is almost exactly as politically polarized as the population in general [2].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_sexual_abuse_c...

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/14/us/catholic-church-sex-ab...

[2] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/23/u-s-religio...

The Catholic Church has a pedophilia/child abuse problem. The conservative/Qanon obsession with pedophilia doesn't extend to churches, much less the Catholic Church. Why not?

>The conservative/Qanon obsession with pedophilia doesn't extend to churches, much less the Catholic Church. Why not?

Because the entire premise is to impugn the enemies of Trump supporters, the alt-right and evangelical Christians - Democrats, leftists and "liberal globalist elites" (cough Jews) - as baby blood-drinking Satanic pedophiles. It's very clearly political propaganda at its core. There's a reason its prototype, Pizzagate, was focused on Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager when she was running, and why it considers Donald Trump to be a prophet of God.

That doesn't really explain why right-wingers would want to focus on it as an issue. Why not focus on for example the effect of raising minimum wage on job vacancies or wild fires contributing to climate change? Both have some amount of evidence for them. I'm not really sure I understand why "there is some evidence for it so it might be true" should be a criterion that particularly interests people on the right wing.

It perfectly explains, but it sounds like you would like explanation why they’re not focusing on things you think they should focusing on?

Uh no not at all. I don't have an opinion on the issues I mentioned. I just think that if you put an issue into a category and use that as the basis of your explanation then your argument should also hold for all elements of that category. For example, if you ask me, why do I like trees and I say, because they are green, then it would be logical for you to ask if I like green apples and green cars because they are also green. If my explanation was valid, then I should also like green apples and green cars.

The point is there are many many many theories out there for which we have limited evidence for. Given that, it doesn't seem to be enough to explain why right wing folks latch on to certain of those theories but not others.

> raising minimum wage

This is an interesting point. If, as the article notes, one of the conservatives'/right-wingers' goals is returning to a "nuclear family" in an economy where "a single income can support a family again", then one step in that direction would be to move away from traditional conservative/right-wing policies on wage inequality.

Epstein was an abuser, but not a pedophile. The minors involved were all between 14 and 18 years of age. He didn't seem to have been a pedophile (i.e., predominantly attracted to pre-pubescent children). He was, possibly, an ephebophile; someone primarily attracted to pubescent minors. (He was, of course, a sex offender and abuser).

This lack of distinction is used to give this right-wing narrative more impact. People tend to think of prepubescent children when the word pedophile is used.

Not that this excuses Epstein in any way of course.

It's an interesting question. I'm not sure I came away with a clear understanding of the article's thesis on what the answer is. If I really had to guess, I'd just say that culturally rapists and sexual predators are the worst kinds of criminals in the United States. Far worse than murderers. It permeates media. Not sure I've ever, even once, seen a fictional character achieve redemption after committing rape. I'm not even sure I've seen a character consider seeking redemption or expressing remorse after committing rape. If you do it, you're a monster, and probably have myriad other awful traits in addition to being physically weird-looking or having a creepy goblin-esque set of mannerisms that only manifest in the most private moments, and are prone to quietly staring at someone so they can have a chance to intuit that you're a sexual predator by appearance alone. And so if you're trying to make a conspiracy theory that says the libs are just the worst, you say they're rapists.

Bojack Horseman is the closest example I can think of, in which he is not bad faith accused of such things, and feels vaguely accountable for them even if he wasn't actually a rapist.

And just to be clear, I do think rape and sexual exploitation is maximally bad. I think our cultural understanding and characterization of rapists is terrible and harmful to everyone, especially victims, and that saying our this does not in any way diminish the badness of it.

edit: and for completion, it used to be worse to be a witch, or a commie.

Probably because they're one of the few actually prevelant and real conspiracies within the conspiracy theory world. So many 100% proven examples to point at.

Also, although there's correlation between right wing and conspiracy theories in general, the title is over emphasising that a lot. The interest in the Epstein scandal for example is pretty much universal.

In Germany it was indeed a problem in the past.

The civil rights movements had people that did try to normalize pedophilia. They were thrown out at some point though. They were mostly active in the green party of Germany, but the party had a clear and complete break with them. To say they harbor pedophiles today would indeed be a conspiracy, although some proponents are still politically active. But also not very relevant.

I think it appeals to a certain right wing crowd because it is a trivial moral stance to be against child exploitation and aside from that they have few other stances that could be called moral. There was this craze in the 70s about sexual repression that went a bit too far in some directions, so it was difficult to call them out. It was a necessary movement, but you also had these crazies that took everything a little too literal and wanted to remove any form of shame or inhibition.

I think Epstein might have had sex with minors under the law that were basically teenagers, but I don't think there is evidence that he was a pedophile. He was just exploitative of young girls and perhaps the trusted pimp of some of the US and UK political class. Pedophilia is a sexual disorder. Children are ugly from a sexual perspective for people with a normal sexuality.

Meanwhile, in Africa. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/sep/03/a...

"Child marriage in the country has increased during coronavirus – and now a newly-tabled bill would allow children as young as 10 to marry"


I'd like to know how QAnons manage to froth at the mouth about p(a)edophiles while simultaneously getting all their nutso "facts" from a site that hosts child porn.

What do you expect from a movement that originated on 4chan, whose culture considers posting child porn to be a harmless prank?


Don't insinuate your point. State it if you have any convinction.

How do you think this invalidates or relates to the topic at hand? People can't engage either positively or negatively unless you actually make a clear point.

I'm not currently convinced you have a coherent one but I look forward to being proved wrong.

The point I'm making is that (at least as far as the UK is concerned), you can't get away with painting the right as nutters engaged in whipping up fears over nothing when there is rock solid substance that what they (the right) were saying for decades was actually true, i.e. that children were being abused by people predominantly from particular groups, and that this abuse was being deliberately ignored. And what makes the cases in the UK particularly poignant is that it was leftist concerns i.e. political correctness that motivated the cover-ups. If you were a child in the crosshairs, you absolutely did need to be afraid of the left.

That's better. You sound less like a drive-by troll now.

However you're fighting the wrong battle here. There is some merit in your arguments and the left has often been blind to valid issues due to focusing on other concerns (spending a fair chunk of the 20th century defending Soviet oppression and mass murder springs to mind)

But that's only loosely related to the article under discussion which seems a clear, inarguable example of a portion of the right that are promoting and presumably investing in theories that are utterly bonkers.

Nobody is claiming that "believing bollocks" is the exclusive preserve of either end of the political spectrum but what's going on at the moment with QAnon, Covid denial and other extreme belief systems is surely something we should all be united in trying to fight?

> inarguable example of a portion of the right that are promoting and presumably investing in theories that are utterly bonkers.

I've given you an example of something that was labelled a 'conspiracy theory' by the left that turned out to be absolutely true, and in fact even worse than suspected when the truth came out. Furthermore, it was in fact the left that was engaging in conspiracy! Apart from that it's blindingly obvious that the author is using the beliefs of a minority as a vehicle to attack the (non-wingnut) majority of the right, and to delegitimise criticism of leftism.

Don't feed the troll. This is a flamebait account. I've seen it pop up many times.

Yes but leaving shit like this unchallenged isn't healthy either.

You just don't like what I'm saying.

Assuming you're a different person to the other poster, you also haven't actually told us what you think this means and how it relates to the article being discussed.

You seem to want to give the impression you're making a clear point but you seem a little cautious about explicitly stating it.

Could you save us the work of clicking through all those links and just highlight the ones where high-ranking politicians or economic/cultural elites were involved and controlling all of the others?

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