On Thursday afternoon, Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas accused Democratic Rep. Katie Porter of California of having said that “pedophilia isn’t a crime.”
But Porter did not say that. Jackson, like some conservative Twitter personalities, was wrongly describing Porter’s remarks.
Jackson has more than 500,000 followers on Twitter. Here’s what he tweeted: “Katie Porter just said that pedophilia isn’t a crime, she said it’s an ‘identity.’ THIS IS THE EMBODIMENT OF EVIL! The sad thing is that this woman isn’t the only VILE person pushing for pedophilia normalization. This is what progressives believe!”
Facts First: Jackson’s claim is false. Porter did not say that pedophilia isn’t a crime. Full video from a congressional hearing on Wednesday shows that Porter actually said that LGBTQ people are being falsely smeared on social media as being a “groomer” or “pedophile” merely because of their gender identity and sexual orientation. She did not defend pedophilia itself.
In other words, Porter is being baselessly described as a supporter of pedophilia over comments in which she was denouncing how other people are being baselessly described as pedophiles.
Jackson’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday afternoon.
What Porter actually said
Porter made her remarks during a Wednesday hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee that was focused on violence and hate directed at lesbian, gay and transgender Americans. Porter was speaking to Kelley Robinson, president of an advocacy group called the Human Rights Campaign, about the group’s report on tweets the group said “mention the LGBTQ+ community alongside slurs such as ‘groomer’, ‘predator’ and ‘pedophile’.”
Here is a transcript of the relevant portion of the exchange, which can be viewed at the 2:49:30 mark of this video.
Porter: I wanted to start with Ms. Robinson, if I could. Your organization recently released a report analyzing the 500 most viewed, most influential tweets that identified LGBTQ people as so-called ‘groomers.’ The ‘groomer’ narrative is an age-old lie to position LGBTQ+ people as a threat to kids. And what it does is deny them access to public spaces, it stokes fear, and can even stoke violence. Ms. Robinson, according to its own hateful content policy, does Twitter allow posts calling LGBTQ+ people ‘groomers’?
Robinson: No. I mean, Twitter, along with Facebook and many others, have community guidelines. It’s about holding users accountable to those guidelines, and acknowledging that when we use phrases and words like ‘groomers’ and ‘pedophiles’ to describe people – individuals in our communities that are mothers, that are fathers, that are teachers, that are doctors – it is dangerous. And it’s got one purpose. It is to dehumanize us. And make us feel like we are not a part of this American society. And it has real-life consequences. So we are calling on social media companies to uphold their community standards. And we’re also calling on any American that’s seeing this play out to hold ourselves and our community members accountable. We wouldn’t accept this in our families, we wouldn’t accept this in our schools. There’s no reason to accept it online.
Porter: So – I mean, I think you’re absolutely right. And it’s not – this allegation of ‘groomer’ and of ‘pedophile,’ it is alleging that a person is criminal somehow, and engaged in criminal acts, merely because of their identity, their sexual orientation, their gender identity. So this is clearly prohibited under Twitter’s content. Yet you found hundreds of these posts on the platform.
Nowhere did Porter say that pedophilia isn’t a crime. And the context of the exchange makes clear that she was criticizing false accusations of pedophilia that are based on a person’s identity, not saying that pedophilia is itself an identity.
Twitter accounts posted partial video
Inaccurate descriptions of Porter’s remarks spread on Twitter on Thursday with the help of videos that left out key parts of what she said.
Jackson’s tweet used similar language as tweets earlier in the day from some other prominent accounts. For example, an account called Libs of TikTok, which has more than 1.6 million Twitter followers, wrote: “Rep Katie Porter (D) says pedophilia isn’t a crime – it’s an identity.”
But the video that Libs of TikTok posted in support of this claim, which came from yet another conservative account, did not show the full exchange between Porter and Robinson. Specifically, it omitted Porter’s key initial comments – the ones in which she said she was talking about tweets “that identified LGBTQ people as so-called ‘groomers’” and in which she described the “groomer” accusation as “an age-old lie to position LGBTQ+ people as a threat to kids.” It also left out Robinson’s reply, in which Robinson also made clear that they were talking about groundless smears.