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 ’bout some disclosure here? The guy you thank for the Instalanche is one of those you criticize for spreading the meme. Welcome to the Web, Jack.

  2. Well hey, even if Reid is a dirty thug up to his snout in corruption and graft, I suppose there are always nice things we can say about him like HARRY REID HAS NEVER STRANGLED NEWBORN KITTENS! AT LEAST NOT SO FAR AS I KNOW! See? It’s easy to say something nice, and there’s a limitless supply of nice things just like that we can say from now on until the end of his career.

  3. Typical of left wing ethics what we see here is the “real” issue not being the Senate Majority Leader’s abuse of power and position in smearing the candidate from the opposition party, but rather the mocking reaction of those who think the Senate Majority Leader has abused his power and position fostering wild rumors in the hope of political gain.

  4. Hi this is my first trip to your blog via the Insta-horde. I really enjoy your post and your serious look at the ethics of this tactic. A few years ago I would have completely agreed with your position. I think you would be correct if the accusation against Reid wasn’t so obviously tongue and cheek. The accusation is there to shame Reid into responsible rhetoric. The news media could also clear up the matter but they would have to explain just how baseless and irresponsible Reid’s accusations were and that isn’t going to happen.
    Question for you, how would you go about improving political discourse when one side is so postmodern that they don’t believe themselves to be bound by ethical constraints and won’t abide by gentleman’s agreements on political conduct?
    Enjoyed the post look forward to visiting the blog again.

  5. Sorry, but the moral case made here is ridiculous.

    It is fatally flawed, in that it is not the people writing about Reid that you are actually criticising, you are criticising Google’s algorithm.

    All the people spreading the meme make it clear that it is in response to Reid’s own disgusting political tactic. From that it is obvious this meme is equally insubstantial, and should not be taken as truth. You don’t even argue otherwise, just that Google might give a different impression.

    Reid not only made up the original scurrilous rumour (either out of whole cloth, or passing on a source he knew to have no possible way of knowing this) intending it to be taken seriously, but it followed a lie by his own party that Romney committed a felony in his dealings. He was doubling down on Democrat dishonesty, with no provocation from Romney.

    This meme is, of course, the least that Reid deserves. It would be more just for him to be relieved of all his political responsibilities except those directly placed on him by his electorate, even that he be thrown out of the Democrat Party or not allowed to stand under their banner at his next election.

    Live by the sword, die by the sword; make the first, unprovoked swing, and accept that death with grace.

  6. Pingback: Harry Reid … Boxer? : The Other McCain

  7. Jack — Let’s acknowledge that Sens and Reps are by law immune from actual slander charges for what they say on the floor. What Sen. Reid did was to abuse this particular legal carve-out in a way to which there is no traditional effective response. One cannot bring a suit against him for slander. So, if we note that this tactic he has, while unethical and legally actionable if one were not a U.S. Senator, is both politically effective (you get to make whatever accusations you like), and protected by law, that seems to me to be out of balance.

    What can be done about it? I think that what has been happening to the Senator’s online reputation should serve as a very real punishment for Reid, and a warning to others in future on both sides of the aisle that this kind of abuse of their limited privileges as Congressmen will flat out not be tolerated. The immunities given to them are a sacred trust. They break that trust at their peril.

    Would I have been happier if it hadn’t been something of a nasty sexual nature, instead executed with something silly just to prove the point? Probably. But would it have as much of a warning effect for future would-be adopters of this tactic? That would have relegated this to the status of a “warning shot.” In my opinion, people like notional politicians (arrogant, etc.) do not heed warning shots, especially when they are fired by the rank and file because we are, after all, beneath them.

    When someone uses force against you, I have a difficult time understanding how it is unethical to redirect their own force back against them. And make no mistake — government power is, at its core, the use of force.

  8. I think you are incorrect about there being an ethical equivalence here.

    Senator Reid is in a position that demands candor, restraint and integrity; spreading illegitimate rumors of a presidential candidate having committed felonies from the chair of the Senate majority leader is far in excess of the ethical infringement of a blogger pointing out that same infraction by replicating it, writ however large.

    Any country that expects to hold its leaders to the same standard as its anonymous (or semi-anonymous) bloggers is doomed to corruption and disgrace.

    • I didn’t say there was an “ethical equivalence.” Reid is a public figure and a US lawmaker, and obviously his conduct was worse and more significant. The post said the bloggers et al were unethical

      • Perhaps.

        Bear in mind, however, that the majority of the posts by bloggers to the effect that Reid is a pedophile etc. directly refer to his accusation as the reason for their own.

        The bloggers are not ethically culpable for the inferences of their readers.

        If a blogger writes a satire (much less a post with direct references) thinking that her audience is sophisticated enough to draw the correct conclusions, and they fail to do so, that is not ethical wrongdoing on the part of the blogger.

  9. Mr. Ethics, you are completely wrong about Reid’s critics stooping to Reid’s level, and it doesn’t take a genius to see the difference. Just be scratching at the surface of the Reid-pederast linkage, an uninformed reader will realize that the whole thing is a tongue-in-cheek and a parody of Reid himself. That’s the whole POINT. To show that Reid is a dirty liar who deliberately makes completely unsubstantiated and serious allegations that people like you Mr. Ethics don’t seem to care much about. People like you Mr. Ethics attack the people who create parodies, but don’t have the guts to criticize ab initio (without prompting by the very Reid-pederast meme itself) people like Reid who actually lie in a serious setting in a malicious way deliberately intended to sow confusion and discord.
    You are a hypocrite Mr. Ethics, and you seem to fail to be able to perceive basic differences. No one stooped to Reid’s level except enablers like you who failed to criticize Reid ab initio for his malicious lies.

      • Hmmm, I honestly don’t see any linke in your article that disproves my “silly comment”. Actually, I had several comments, and your Directory of Answers doesn’t seem to answer any of them. You seem not to be addressing at all the very different motives of Reid vs. his critics. Reid has uttered a dirty lie for purely partisan political purposes. Reid actually wants people to believe his lie. His critics are satirizing him, and do not actually want people to believe the satire. It’s tongue in cheek, and I fail to see how anything you’ve said so far addresses this difference. Motives can make a big difference in ethical analyses; you, however, seem to be ignoring motives and desired outcomes entirely.

        • While I agree that Reid deserves everything he has coming to him, the method is still unethical. To attempt to claim proper motive is just superficial utilitarian silliness. Ends don’t justify means. one can however pull a Truman and say I act immorally and do so proudly. But you have to say the first part.

        • I repeat: all the answers are there. You just don’t want to acknowledge them. Reid wants to hurt Romney by impugning his reputation and character; the pederast rumor has the same intention. Why are so many of your compatriots writing “Reid hasn’t denied it” posts?” It’s disingenuous to play Big Lie politics and say that you’re just satirizing Big Lie politics. It’s like kicking someone in the crotch and saying, no, I’m just making fun of people who kick people in the crotch. It is, in other words, a lie.

          It’s not satire, and I explained why its not satire. It’s tit for tat name-calling, and many of the comments have confirmed that, too. Name-calling isn’t satire.

  10. Poor Jack Marshall.

    All these people have invaded your cocoon with all their different opinions, and your immediate instinct is to spray ad hominem attacks against every new visitor that disagrees with you.

    You were especially graceless in your “Thanks” to Glenn Reynolds for his link to your private little bubble.

    Not becoming, not impressive, and definitely not persuasive.” is an excellent summation of your behaviour.

    • I said nothing graceless about Mr. Reynolds at all. I said something accurate about the readers who can’t discuss the issue without resorting to rationalizations and cliches. It’s a great display of exactly what’s wrong with American politics—-the combatants literally dismiss ethics. I’m glad to have the evidence being volunteered here. It’s a smoking gun.

  11. Isn’t everyone forgetting something about Romney’s taxes? If he hadn’t paid taxes in ten years, what are the chances the IRS would give him a pat on the back and a pass on the whole thing? The Dems are in control of the IRS. If they had Romney over a barrel, they’d roll the barrel.

    • “If he hadn’t paid taxes in ten years, what are the chances the IRS would give him a pat on the back and a pass on the whole thing?”

      Yes, I thought of this too the other day. Romney is a very prominent guy, his father was a governor of a major state and he, himself, was a governor of a major state. He is a real 1%-er.

      I was told years ago that the IRS really does scrutinize those folks. Somebody on Free Republic said the other day that they downloaded Romney’s 2010 tax return and it was over 200 pages long.

      You don’t think the IRS has the lowly clerks going through those returns, do you? To borrow a phrase that’s “where the money is”, so I’m sure that Mitt Romney and others of his ilk, Democrat, Republican, non-politcal, famous like movie stars or unknown to all of us have their returns sifted quite finely by the IRS.

      This is what makes Reid’s charge ridiculous and I’m sorry but he’s well deserving of all the blowback he’s getting. It’s also a disgrace that the press (with a few exceptions, Anderson Cooper and Bob Scheifer so far to my knowledge) are passing on the “meme” that Romney is a felon without question. It should be being denounced and if it had been, by the NY TImes, et al we probably wouldn’t be pranking this way.

      I’m actually really happy it’s taken off the way it has.

      Every day can be Chik-fil-A day if we all just BE BREITBART!

    • Except that his “smackdown” was based on his own laziness, and he was dead wrong on the facts: I did raise the same objection to what was done to Santorum, over a year ago, as soon as I learned about it. Stick your Upper Case in your ear.

  12. Sure, conservatives are suppose to be above it all. Look how well that worked out for George W. Bush. He was constantly trashed and denigrated yet he didn’t answer the charges because it wasn’t “Presidental”. Harry Reid was one of the leaders calling him a liar and a loser and never suffered consequences even when he announced the war in Iraq was lost. It’s hard when conservative have to play by different rules which basically ties one hand behind our backs. People may bemoan nasty campaign commercials, but there is no doubt they work just as democrats know their nastiness works. About time they got a taste of their own medicine. Maybe once they get a taste of it they’ll start policing their own.

  13. You claim that there is an ethical comparison with the actions of the two sides but there isn’t. Reid is just plain lying to do harm. That’s not the same as satirizing Harry’s actions. The motives of those who understand the Daily Show and SNL while claiming the Right is obligated to sit with their hands tied for fear that somebody’s Grandkid might someday misinterpret satire for reality really aren’t that hard to see.

  14. I have never seen a political smear more justly deserved. You sanctimoniously wring your hands about the possibility of Reid’s nephew or niece coming across the meme. What about the average voting citizen, who actually still believes that the mainstream media is unbiased, relying on that reportage to determine that Romney is unfit to be president because he hasn’t paid taxes in ten years? This man is a U.S. senator, and yet acts, in demonstrable ways, no better than a pederast. No pity here that on-the-mark humor and analogue is required to make that point.

              • And you continue to prove my point. Anyone who has even slightly questioned your assertion has been met by unethical personal attacks and derision from your person. You have at least 20 instances of personal attacks against complete strangers who have done nothing more than pointed out that the ‘attacks on Reid are satire’ and he deserves some hoisting by his own petard.

                Ethics, dear sir, seem to be something you like to employ as a weapon against others, than be a standard to which you adhere.

                • You are using the Left’s definition of “personal attack.” If someone comes on my blog and writes ignorant and unethical comments, it is not a “personal attack” to call them ignorant and unethical. If someone behaves like a jerk when they are guest here, I may call him one. Jerks need to be told; otherwise they never learn. It IS a personal attack to call them pedophiles. Your arguments can’t extend beyond playing “gotcha!” My standards are published on the blog, and I adhere to them.

  15. So, Mr Ethics takes all of five or six seconds to prove how big of a massive hypocrite he is? I know I’m SHOCKED by this… I guess his real point is to tell conservatives to “Shut up and lose gracefully!”, and he’s just more upset that conservatives are kinda tired of doing that.

  16. I was with you until the next to last paragraph re: “civility”.
    The whole purpose of that word is the progressive meme that the left is civil and the right is not.
    The reality of the situation is that progressives believe the end justifies the means and are happy to do whatever it takes, uncivil, undemocratic, unlawful to get their way. Re: the Koch Brother’s and the drive-by-media smear campaign.
    After over 50 years of turning the other cheek, I for one think Harry Reid is getting exactly what he deserves.

    • “The whole purpose of that word is the progressive meme that the left is civil and the right is not.”
      Nonsense. I have debunked that repeatedly here. The Left’s idea of civility is in fact censorship. It embraces an Allan Grayson and a Maxine Waters but accuses Sarah Palin of getting Gaby Giffords shot. That’s a real joke.

      True: the media, which is Left-biased, often carries the dishonest and hypocritical propaganda that conservatives are more hateful and uncivil than liberals. But who does it fool? Not me, not anyone paying attention. Your solution is to go ahead and become as uncivil as the Left says you are? Good plan!

  17. Jack, Jack Jack, perhaps you should find a new pastime. Blogging, above all, requires two qualities: wit and a sense of humor. You appear to have neither.

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