Did Patton Oswalt Tweet ‘I Am a Proud Pedophile’?

On August 3 2020, a Facebook user shared a purported tweet from comedian Patton Oswalt, in which Oswalt purportedly claimed to be a “proud pedophile”:

Commenters on the Facebook post folded it into a larger conspiracy theory about child trafficking:

It’s not funny. Were talking about innocent children. Being raped molested or sex trafficked. This trauma sticks with those children for the rest of they life. Some will commit suicide and won’t even see out the rest of their lives. This is mentally sick either way. With this whole Hollywood sex scheme thing rn I wouldn’t be surprised if he meant it.

Rumors of that sort reached a crescendo in July 2020, with a baseless rumor that retailer Wayfair was shipping actual children in overpriced cabinets (our examination of the conspiracy theory is below):

In the post’s image, a screenshot of Oswalt’s purported tweet appeared, alongside a photograph of the comic carrying a small child. That image was captured in July 2015, and it featured Oswalt and his daughter Alice:

Disney-Pixar’s “Inside Out” – Los Angeles Premiere

HOLLYWOOD, CA – JUNE 08: Actor Patton Oswalt and daughter Alice Oswalt attend the premiere of “Inside Out” at the El Capitan Theatre on June 8, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

As for the tweet, it existed — but it was taken out of context:

The angry “@” tweets from my hammer toed followers opened my eyes. “Pedo-phobe” shaming hurts us all. I am a PROUD pedophile!

That particular tweet was sent by Oswalt in the summer of 2013, during which time his use of Twitter for a particular style of joke was well documented. Oswalt shared a series of tweets in July and August 2013 that were conceived to leverage Twitter’s character limit in a humorous fashion.

In the course of the bit, Oswalt would publish one tweet expressing a widely accepted sentiment. In the second of two tweets, he would continue the sentiment to create a misleading statement when only the second tweet was examined.

Examples included these two tweets about laundry:

And this pair of tweets about marriage equality and abortion:

And these about voting laws and Adolf Hitler:

Like the three examples above, Oswalt’s “proud pedophile” tweet was an extension of the series of two-part tweets. In that set of two, he tweeted:

Although it is technically true that Patton Oswalt tweeted “I am a PROUD pedophile,” the tweet was the second of two tweets and an extension of a long-running bit he did in the summer of 2013. The first of two tweets joked about “hammer toes,” and the second joked about “pedo-phobe” shaming — adding that he was a proud “pedophile.” In that case, he was referencing a joke about feet.