Election 2022

Internet blasts GOP Congresswoman for sharing “cruel” anti-LGBTQ meme about Paul Pelosi attack

Rep. Claudia Tenney
Rep. Claudia TenneyPhoto: U.S. House portrait

A Republican Congresswoman got so much backlash online when she mocked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) husband Paul Pelosi for getting beaten with a hammer and hospitalized that she turned off the replies to her tweets to avoid further criticism.

This past Friday, a man broke into the Pelosis’ San Francisco home and attacked Paul Pelosi. He asked “Where’s Nancy?” before he beat Paul Pelosi with a hammer. Paul Pelosi was able to call 911 and he was hospitalized following the brutal attack.

Police soon arrested David DePape in connection with the attack, and Republicans immediately claimed that he was in fact a gay hippie who was Paul Pelosi’s secret lover (or a sex worker, in some re-tellings) and that the attack was actually a drunken fight. Conservative media falsely reported that DePape was arrested in just his underwear and the far-right Santa Monica Observer made up a fictional account of the relationship between DePape and Paul Pelosi that Twitter CEO Elon Musk later shared on that platform.

One image being shared as “proof” that DePape is secretly leftist is of a house in Berkeley, California with a rainbow cannabis flag in front of it, which they claim DePape is “connected” to (The New Yorker provides the full description of the Byzantine story that possibly connects DePape to the house).

Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) posted a picture of the house that had been photoshopped to include five white men in shorts with short haircuts holding oversized hammers in front of the house. If one peruses the comments under the image, one would find that many conservatives believe that these men are what gay men generally look like.

“LOL,” Tenney wrote in sharing the image.

Tenney faced harsh criticism for joking about the attack that put the 82-year-old Paul Pelosi in intensive care.

Instead of taking down the image, Tenney blocked further responses.

Despite the right insisting that DePape is queer and that his attack on Paul Pelosi was part of a lovers’ quarrel, the attacker told investigators that his intention was to break Nancy Pelosi’s kneecaps so that she would have to “be wheeled into Congress, which would show other members of Congress that there were consequences to actions.”

The probable cause warrant says that DePape’s intended target is believed to be Nancy Pelosi, which is why he is facing a charge of assaulting a family member of a U.S. official, with the intent to retaliate against the official for doing their duties. The charge could get him 30 years in prison.

DePape’s social media history shows that he believed in numerous conservative conspiracy theories, like QAnon, that the COVID-19 vaccines kill people, and the idea that the war in Ukraine is a plot for Jewish people to buy land. He also shared images mocking transgender people.

He shared links to YouTube videos with titles like “Democrat FARCE Commission to Investigate January 6th Capitol Riot COLLAPSES in Congress!!!” and “Global Elites Plan To Take Control Of YOUR Money! (Revealed)”

Tenney is currently serving her first term in the House of Representatives. She faces Anthony Holden in the general election this fall.

Update: Tenney has since deleted the tweet. Holden called her out on Twitter.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Tenney is facing Rep. Anthony Brindisi in the general election this month. We regret the error.

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