Thursday, June 22, 2017

4 Years for "Pizzagate" Gunman

North Carolina man Edgar Welch has been sentenced to four years in prison for storming into the Coment Ping Pong pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. Welch was armed with an AR-15 rifle and a handgun, and claimed he was there "to investigate" the so-called "Pizzagate conspiracy." According to the conspiracy popularized on conservative talk radio, Bill and Hillary Clinton were running a pedophile ring out of the imaginary basement of the restaurant (which doesn't have a real one). And yeah, the whole thing is just as stupid and ridiculous as it sounds. It apparently fooled Welch, though.

Welch said court to U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, “I wish there were a way that I could offer something other than an apology... I realize mere words can’t undo what happened...but I am sorry,” said Welch, wearing an orange prison suit and standing with his hands clasped behind his back. “I am sorry for anything I have caused,” Welch said.

In imposing the sentence, the judge said she was handing down a penalty she said was needed to uphold the rule of law against vigilante justice. “I hope you understand and see how much people have suffered because of what you did,” Jackson said going on to say “I am truly sorry you find yourself in the position you are in, because you do seem like a nice person who on your own mind was trying to do the right thing. But that does not excuse reckless conduct and the real damage that it caused.”

In a previous letter filed in court, Welch said he had not intended to “harm or frighten innocent lives, but I realize now just how foolish and reckless my decision was.” His attorney, assistant federal defender Dani Jahn, had said in court records that Welch “does not seek to minimize the impact his reckless and frightening actions had on those who encountered him. . . . Rather, Mr. Welch is hopeful that those victimized by his actions can forgive him.”

While I'm a parent and I can understand getting worked up about an alleged pedophile ring, I also have critical thinking skills. Point number one is that the physical details of the conspiracy don't make any sense. The building has no basement, and it would have to in order to accommodate the space required. There were also no suspicious people coming and going to and from the restaurant. Conspiracy supporters said they used secret tunnels to connect with the imaginary basement. You see where this is going.

Point number two is that it makes no sense to me that the Clintons would have anything to do with such a thing. Both of them are so calculating and cagey that they often sound like they're lying even when they're telling the truth. Hillary is so risk-averse that she probably worries about getting traffic tickets. Also, since we know that the conspiracy originated among a bunch of Donald Trump supporters on Reddit during the election, the source is highly questionable. I applied similar scrutiny to awful stories about Trump that came from Hillary supporters

I also am a lot more likely to call the police or the FBI if I find out about one than I would be to arm up and take matters into my own hands. These sorts of conspiracy theories are all over the place and generally the more extreme they are, the less likely they are to be true. That's a basic rule of thumb that a lot of folks forget. There's shady stuff going on in the world, sure, but a leads are just leads. They need to be investigated, and not at the point of a vigilante's gun.

Now if we could just lock up the horrible people out there who are still harassing the Sandy Hook parents, we would be good to go. People need to understand when they threaten others on the basis of complete bullshit, serious consequences should always follow - preferably criminal ones.

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