I showed the Breitbart article, and Nyberg’s defense, to two female journalist friends who are politically moderate and do not follow Gamer Gate controversies at all.Both felt that the material disclosed by Breitbart was quite damning and that Nyberg’s explanation was extremely unconvincing.
Imagine that a conservative activist who crusades against same-sex marriage and abortion becomes a target of persistent rumors that he is a pedophile.
Then, his online foes manage to obtain chat room logs and forum posts from 10 years ago in which the activist, then in his early 20s, discusses his attraction to children as young as 6 and specifically to an 8-year-old cousin he calls his “little girlfriend,” argues that adult/child sex would not be harmful in a healthier society, and shares photos of the cousin with other chat members.
Imagine this material is made public in several blogposts and later becomes the subject of an exposé on a left-wing website such as
The activist defends himself by claiming that he was a troubled young man who found refuge in online communities where people vie to outdo each other in provocative and nihilistic humor, and that his discussions of pedophilia were just an act.
I am also not a great fan of Breitbart, which is pretty much the right-wing equivalent of Salon: a site where some excellent pieces coexist with hyper-partisan sensationalism and red meat for true believers.
The reason I’m wading in is that the double standards have been too blatant—and revealing about today’s political culture. Nyberg (known as @srhbutts on Twitter), a “watchdog” who specializes in tracking and publicizing tweets and posts that show the worst of Gamer Gate, has relentlessly attacked the movement for alleged links to child pornography.Sandifer further added that the “modern notion of childhood was invented by the Victorians” and was a mere “fetish.” Could one feel that, regardless of Nyberg’s conduct, her exposure amounted to cruel mob justice? But it’s instructive to compare this reaction to the response earlier this year when it was disclosed that Josh Duggar, the eldest child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of the “19 Kids and Counting” reality show, had inappropriately touched several of his younger sisters 12 years ago at the age of 15.Virtually no one seemed bothered by the fact that these reports involved leaked confidential police records on a juvenile.The activist, Sarah Nyberg, has been the target of a brutal exposé—or hit piece, according to her defenders—by Milo Yiannopoulos on And many Twitter progressives have rallied to Nyberg’s side. Attack journalism is not my favorite genre, particularly when it targets minor public figures, causes obvious pain and humiliation to the target, and involves wading into the worst kind of muck.But others appear to make an entirely serious argument, in a moderate and “reasonable” tone, that it is possible to be an “ethical pedophile,” that the real harm is society’s denial of children’s sexuality, and that there is nothing wrong with political advocacy of pedophilia.