Funny! But Wrong: The “Harry Reid Is A Pederast” Rumor

Not fair. But deserved.

Various conservative-minded blogs, including some of the most eminent and well-respected, have flooded the internet with “Harry Reid is a pederast ( or pedophile)” rumors, innuendos and suggestions, like this one, from Red State:

“Harry Reid is a pedophile”

“I got that from a reliable source who made me promise not to reveal his name.  But he knows.  Honest. Now I’m sure some would expect me to back up this claim with some of those “fact” thingys or maybe a link or two.  Well, given that I’ve promise anonymity for my source, not happening.  Just Google “Harry Reid pedophile” there are 1.79 million hits. I’ve known this for some time but I was reluctant to go public with the information because I always back up my writing with facts and links.  Since I’m sworn to secrecy this time I was uncomfortable putting this story out until some seminal events occurred this week, and I figured “what’s good for the goose…”

“As I’m sure you know, Harry Reid (the pedophile), told a reporter that “somebody” at the evil Bain Capital told him that Mitt Romney won’t release his taxes because he didn’t pay any taxes for ten years.  And today Harry Reid (the pedophile) doubled down on this statement in the Las Vegas Review Journal…”

And so on, in that vein. The meme is doing its work: Sen. Reid is on the way to being “santorumed.”* Google his name, and Google’s suggested searches put “Harry Reid pederast” third. By next week, it could be first. Will some unsuspecting, innocent and trusting citizens come across this completely fanciful libel of Reid and believe it? Perhaps even a young nephew or niece of the Senate Majority Leader? Oh, we can be sure of that.

Is that fair and right?

Of course not.

Reid himself deserves little sympathy, for the collective smear on his name was prompted by his own scurrilous rumor-mongering on the floor of the U.S. Senate, where he asserted that Mitt Romney hadn’t paid his taxes for a decade based on no evidence whatsoever. Nonetheless, while giving someone a “taste of his own medicine” is no doubt satisfying and perhaps even instructive, wrong is wrong, and spreading intentional lies, even about a public figure as devoid of decency and scruples as the Senate Majority Leader, is unethical. No conduct, no matter how nauseating, by its target can justify this. Stooping to Reid’s level can only further degrade civility and dignity in American public discourse, which is the objective of political sewer-dwellers like Reid, not anyone with the best interests of the nation in mind.

Fortunately, when dealing with an individual as loathsome as Harry Reid, there are plenty of completely true statements that can and should be said that are only slightly less damning than “Harry Reid is a pedophile.” So let’s be fair to Harry: denigrate him with the truth. That’s what he truly deserves.

* Thanks to blogger Dan Savage, the former GOP Senator’s name is now a synonym for a disgusting bodily discharge.

UPDATE 1 (8/5): Well, it certainly is an honor to get a link from the estimable Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit. Now if only more of his readers would demonstrate some respect for and comprehension of ethics rather than endlessly chanting versions of “this is war” and “Reid hasn’t denied he is a pederast!” and “the mean Democrats do this all the time, so it’s time we fought back.” Not becoming, not impressive, and definitely not persuasive. The mind-numbing repetition is reminiscent of my debate with the pot-heads.

UPDATE 2 (8/6): The commenters aren’t bothering to read the thread, so I am getting the same comments over and over. Here is a directory of the ten most common comments, and my responses to them. You’re welcome.


Pointer: Instapundit

Graphic: Redstate

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

322 thoughts on “Funny! But Wrong: The “Harry Reid Is A Pederast” Rumor

  1. How can you be sure the claims are “Wrong”? Reid has not denied these extremely serious charges and he has not provided any evidence to prove his innocence. Please withhold judgment until the evidence is in.

  2. Trying to argue with an ethicist about ethics is at best a fools game. It IS unethical to tell an untruth even as a turn about or a satire. No defense. I simply like the symmetry.
    Not ethical, but deserved.
    That said, not all ethicists have a squeaky clean record on ethics. Maybe we need to find a better word for what many ethicists do under that umbrella. It’s an issue for another time, but ethics has a bad name when practiced by ideologues.

    • Point? I wrote specifically that Reid deserved the smear, but that it was unethical. Meanwhile, ethics can’t be practiced by ideologues, and I am as far from an ideologue as you can get.

      • Point
        You’re right.
        Nothing more than that for now. My observations about ethicists apply to ethicists who are ideologues if the shoe doesn’t fit don’t wear it.

      • Except that “ethics” and “civility” as generally used today mainly consists of partisian hacks trying to bludgeon conservatives into shutting up and backing down. So yeah, in that case it’s not true ethics, but doubt anyone notices. I don’t accuse you of that – I don’t if you are that kind of hack or not, I give you benefit of the doubt on this issue and will say you’re not since I admit I’m too lazy to check your site. Just wanted you to understand why you’re getting such a hostile reception here. After Giffords was shot, the whole idea of “new civility” was used as a cudgel to blood libel the right, and Palin in particular. So you can understand why our first impulse is to show hostility to anyone tut-tutting about “civility” or ethics. Does that make it right? It just might. Once bitten, twice shy.

  3. “Would you please post a link to your prior “alarms” about the Santorum Googlebomb campaign? Or about “swatting” conservatives?

    Yeah, didn’t think there were any. Hypocrites.”

    Here it is, you lazy, utter jackass. Now take a hike…you’re banned.

    • This quote in bold mentions both Santorum, and the SWATing of conservative bloggers that’s probably being done by associates of Brett Kimberlin or Rauhauser et al. The link you provided, Mr. Ethics, seems to address only Santorum, not SWATing. I searched for “SWAT” in your blog, and couldn’t find anything about the SWATing of conservative bloggers. Maybe I’m just not searching well enough?

      I think it would be most ethical of you, Mr. Ethics, to clarify that the link you’re providing addresses only one of the two issues raised by the quote you provided. I apologize about earlier about calling you a hypocrite for not calling out Reid in the first place, like you did Dan Savage on the Santorum issue – You did, and I should have done a basic search to check that.

      • I had no idea what the “SWATting of Conservative bloggers” meant, perhaps because it has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I don’t see why I would cite a link on that topic in this context, and if you want to make that argument, make it. The Brett Kimberlin mess has been extensively covered elsewhere, by Popehat among others. I don’t write about every issue with ethical content, especially ones that have no real question about who is in the right.That one was clear-cut 1st Amendment abuse. It has nothing to do with Reid.

        I am certainly not obligated to provide an link called for in insulting and derogatory fashion by a troll, especially when one doesn’t exist, and when the lack of such link in no way proves I’m a hypocrite, since it’s a non sequitur.

  4. This whole thread I think is an unfortunate ‘ownside goal.’ While there is much to disagree with in the original post the comments section has become a parody of proper discourse.

    To the blog your views on ethics appear to derive from Kant and therefore should receive a sympathetic audience from most of the comments. Deontological ethics are difficult but a lot closer to common morality than anything other than superficial utilitarianism. I tip my hat to you for taking your stand though I think your analysis lacks a natural law/ game theory perspective that recognizes behavior must be enforced by social opprobrium against misbehavior. I would like to hear your thoughts on my previous comment in response to the invocation of Sun Tzu.

    To the commenters, calm down. The Harry Reid shenanigans are just that; attempts to shame an amoral actor into either vacating the commons or following rules of common decency. On an ethics blog it is perfectly reasonable to criticize such tactics because they really are beyond the pale. Not unjustified but definitly beyond typical discourse. I like to think someone like Professor Reynolds would agree and since he is where I believe a lot of the traffic is coming from think about that.

    • Speaking as a political moderate who was considered a conservative back in high school; I can safely say that the comment section has definitely lowered my opinion of the general conservative base (which is a pity, since some of my favorite people are conservatives). If these commentators act the same way on other sites, I think other potential swing voters would feel the same as I do, many of whom are probably far more unlikely to be able to separate their feelings about the moral and intellectual capacity of the people in a party vs. their feelings about the veracity of said party’s specific policy positions.

      • You know, Julian, I was thinking the same thing, and I’m about to write on it. And your comment eloquently disproves one of the main arguments in this thread, which is that stooping to gutter tactics is necessary. In fact, it’s alienating and suicidal, and the fact that so many conservatives embrace an essential unethical mindset is no less than frightening. And it’s ugly to behold.

        Is this really typical of Instapundit’s core audience? If I thought Ethics Alarms was breeding/attracting individuals of these tendencies, I’d stop blogging immediately.

      • Ha, ha, ha.

        So … you think that reciprocity is unfair? Interesting. Which side is given the natural advantage in your world? He who acts first is protected from others doing to him what he has been smart enough to first do to others? First strike gains the ethical advantage, according to you?


        • Your perverted version of reciprocity is a reverse Golden Rule—do unto others what they did to you. It is just a recipe for tearing down all ethical standards, and its unfair to civilization.

          And one more LOL and you’re banned. I don’t tolerate mockery from guests, especially ethically ignorant guests.

          • I assume you’ll ban me over this, but let me get this straight:

            You call my ideas “warped, warped, warped”, “perverted” and me “ethically ignorant” but if I write “LOL” you’ll ban me for ‘mockery’?

            Nice ethics, there. I can see why you don’t like the idea that reciprocity is the essence of fairness.

            • Your ideas about ethics ARE warped, and someone should have told you long ago. That’s not mockery. That’s a diagnosis. “LOL’ is just rude. This most recent comment is dumb, but it’s not rude. Stay away from rude, and I’ll be endlessly tolerant of dumb.

              • “That’s not mockery. That’s a diagnosis.”

                Er … (can I say “er”) It was YOU who was accusing me of mockery, and thus threatening a ban. I never said that you were mocking me. I couldn’t really care about your tone. But you made YOUR tone clear in that you thought my idea wasn’t only “warped” but “warped, warped, warped”.

                And now you think calling me “dumb” is an appropriate response. Okey doke. I’m laughing. Can I note that or is that bannable mockery?

                Whatever. I’m done with this little debate. Anyone who reads this exchange can figure out for himself very quickly who is rude and dumb and who isn’t.

                • Yes, the dumb ethical debater is the one maintaining that “tit for tat” is an ethical rather than an unethical standard of conduct. It violates reciprocity, absolutism and utilitarianism; it is a recipe for societal suicide. In short, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, and mocking me for trying to explain it to you. Yes, it’s dumb. Yes, you’re hopeless, and since you clearly want to be, fine. You’re gone.

                  • In the world of the mind tit for tat may be a recipe for “societal suicide” but not in the real world in which people live and make decisions.

                    Let me quote from RDS — “Tit-for-Tat” is a proven effective strategy from game theory, to enforce sticking to the rules

                    [Proven and effective are words that mean something.]

                    Since RDS has stated a proven concept that eventually forces ALL parties to stick to the ethical rules, and Jack has not stated any concept that would cause the Dems to stick to the rules at any point in the future, I would say that RDS clearly wins the discussion of how to bring society to a “center” by default. A provable, workable plan beats a bird in the mind any day.

                    • “In the world of the mind tit for tat may be a recipe for “societal suicide” but not in the real world in which people live and make decisions.”
                      Au contraire. The real world proves every day why your pragmatic and unethical formula is disastrous, with US politics and Congress being prime examples.

  5. You are 100% right about returning unethical behavior for unethical behavior. It’s a recipe for societal chaos. Integrity is the most difficult character trait to cultivate. It’s the opposite of pride. No wonder pride is considered to be the worst sin, it’s the basis for almost every sin.

    But, I still get a nasty little thrill when tables get turned. And, I think sarcasm, when well done, is very satisfying.

  6. Having stumbled into this site I read a lot of the comments and Jack Marshall’s replies. There is clearly a reason why Mr. Marshall is attacking the humorous lesson being taught to the media and Harry Reid. Is there something Mr. Marshall is hiding?

  7. Have to disagree with you here. Not because “this is war!” or because “the Democrats do it all the time!” but because the post you quoted and most of the other ones I have seen are obviously satirical. Admittedly, with satire, there’s always a risk that some people don’t “get it,” but, IMHO, that’s not a reason to ban satire, or even condemn it.
    Regarding Sen. Reid, it is worth noting that he made his defamatory statement on the floor of the Senate, where he is protected from liability by the “speech and debate” clause of the Constitution. If he had made the same statement, at say, a press conference, he could have been — and should have been — sued. This is a little abuse of his office that, sadly, no one is talking about . . . and I am sure it wasn’t accidental.

  8. Rick Santorum withdrew from the race, not because he was losing, but because of the vicious nature of the attacks against him. Did you have anything to say then about “Santoruming” him back then? It was utterly disgusting and the the MSM Palace guards laughed the entire time about it. If Mitt Romney releases his tax returns, it is clear as day that the coverage by the MSM regarding the entire presidential campaign will be “All Mitt Romney’s tax returns, all the time until Nov. 6th 2012. You’d think there would be coverage about the dismal state of the economy and sky high unemployment. But, NOOOOO! Mitt Romney’s tax returns are far too important! It is the last card left in the Dem. playbook and they are all in on this. so, in conclusion, all bets are off in the civility department this time around.

  9. In your opinion, did that make it “OK” for Mr. Savage- ( a frequent guest at the Obama White House) to Turn Mr. Santorum’s name into a term for a mixture of KY jelly and fecal material?

    • Jack Marshall wrote last year that it was wrong for Savage to smear Santorum this way. He also wrote that Harry Reid was in the wrong a couple of days before he wrote this post.

      I don’t necessarily agree with him on this post, but if you look at his site it is very clear he does not give liberals a pass.

  10. I have some respect for the “we should not stoop to their level argument”. But I also beleive that bad conduct that is never punished will continue. The left rarely discipline bad conduct of their own (although a few honest leftists and gays did condemn the mayors assault on free speech in the chick filla case). But in most cases, the left and MSM is totally silent on outrages like Reid’s. So the only way to deter their conduct is to reply in kind. I will start worrying more about civility when I see the left apply some of their own civility rules to themselves. In the mean time one thing we should restrain from is doing a smear like this against any target that did not do worse first, so at least we remain a tiny bit better than they are.

  11. Until Harry Reid provides proof he’s not a pederast I’ll assume he is. That’s his standard for others and I’m applying it to him. I’d also like to know how he’s worth 10.5 million dollars.

  12. Reid refuses to comment on the charges. Why won’t he even deny it? Where is his evidence that he’s not a pedarast? There is none.

    • Do you comprehend how boring, hackneyed and pathetic this is? Lazy and annoying too, since I provided a link that gives my official reply to your comment, which is about the 60th one in this vein. I don’t know how you can stand yourself.

  13. I know this is late, but I just saw the pathetic and lazy snide-fest Red State’s Moe Lane posted about my objection to the childish “you lied about my guy so we’ll lie about you” attack on Harry Reid from the more mouth-breathing conservatives…like Lane (Now they are making up rumors that Reid was beaten up by a mob enforcer, again making me come to the defense of arguably the most loathsome politician alive. I hate that.) Lane called me a hypocrite (as well as, I think, as his prose is well-nigh indecipherable by English speakers, some species of liberal) because—well let me let Moe try to explain it…

    “Hence the aforementioned shocked, shocked response from this Ethics Alarms site, which is very disapproving of the whole thing, and goes so far as to call it ‘santoruming.’ For those unfamiliar with the concept, Ethics Alarms provides a footnote: “Thanks to blogger Dan Savage, the former GOP Senator’s name is now a synonym for a disgusting bodily discharge.” And that, of course, is just as bad when it happens to Harry Reid as it was when it happened to Rick Santorum.…which, given that (as near as I can tell) this seems to be the first time that Ethics Alarms has bothered to mention to the world that, hey, attacking Rick Santorum like that was bad, just indicates to me that the “Reid is a Pederast” meme is having the desired effect”

    As far as Moe can tell, being a boob and all, isn’t far. I in fact did declare Savage’s attack on Santorum wrong, HERE, when I wrote…

    I don’t blame Savage for being offended at Santorum’s opinion, but his response is the equivalent of fastening a “Kick Me!” sign to a foe’s back. The tactic is not direct confrontation, and it doesn’t give its target a fair opportunity to offer a defense. Yes, in many ways it is the perfect attack, but using the internet to harm someone’s image and reputation by manufacturing a revolting definition of his name that is unrelated to his life or personal conduct is an unfair and unethical tactic, no matter how many points it earns for irony, cleverness, and humor. Savage, it seems clear, is interested in ruining Rick Santorum, not fairness. “Rick would have prevented me and my partner from being able to adopt my son,” he told Mother Jones. “If Rick Santorum wants to make a $5 million donation to Freedom to Marry, I will take [the website] down. Interest starts accruing now.” This is probably not quite extortion, but its ethics, or lack of them, are the same.

    …but ideologue attack dogs like Moe Lane don’t care about facts, just attacks—that’s why they accomplish the near impossible and make the Daily Kos look good.

    • Incidentally, if I wasn’t clear, Moe Lane is an ass, as is anyone who argues that starting a meme about a politician being a pederast is anything but unethical. And his claim that it’s just a “meme” and not to be taken as literally true is EXACTLY the fallback rationalization being used by Moe’s sworn enemies regarding “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!”

      And Moe calls me a hypocrite.

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