The Twitter account for news satire site The Babylon Bee has been suspended for naming transgender U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine the Bee’s “Man of the Year.”
I just received this notice that we’ve been locked out of our account for “hateful conduct.” pic.twitter.com/udMriKcDr6
— Seth Dillon (@SethDillon) March 20, 2022
Known for their viral parodies of news events, The Babylon Bee is led by CEO Seth Dillon. Dillon was the keynote speaker for the Carolina Liberty Conference on February 24 where he showed eerily similar headlines between the Bee and mainstream media. In an interview with Carolina Journal last month, Dillon called his writers “an idea firehose” and said the site fills a unique void in the media landscape.
“There weren’t a lot of comedians or humorists or satirists, doing comedy from the perspective we’re doing it from,” he said in the CJ interview. “We’re pushing back on the popular narratives, poking holes in them, rather than advancing them.”
Dillon said his outlet cannot tweet additional stories to its 1.3 million Twitter followers until the Levine tweet is taken down, which he says they will not do.
“We’re not deleting anything,” Dillon tweeted on Sunday. “Truth is not hate speech. If the cost of telling the truth is the loss of our Twitter account, then so be it.”
— Jessica O’Donnell (@heckyessica) March 21, 2022
Babylon Bee launched a direct email newsletter, in addition to a half-dozen other social media outlets where their material is still active.
This is not the first time someone has been silenced by Twitter over Levine’s gender. When Levine became the first openly transgender official confirmed by the Senate, Rep. Jim Banks, R-Indiana, had his account suspended for referring to Levine as a man. In that case, as well, Twitter said Banks violated the “hateful speech policy.”
The Babylon Bee tweet began as a parody of USA Today’s decision to name Levine one of their “Women of the Year,” which was criticized in part due to Levine’s performance as Pennsylvania’s health director. Early in the COVID pandemic, Levine’s own mother was removed from a care facility, while other nursing homes were ordered to take COVID infected patients from local hospitals.
With the surge of interest in Twitter’s ban of the Bee, writers decided to publish a parody of themselves.
“Jokes are funny because of their proximity to the truth, not their distance from it,” said Dillon in the February interview.
“The world has become too absurd to be satirized,” he added.