Press Petulant Over ‘Transphobic,’ ‘Right-Wing’ Satire Site Babylon Bee’s Free-Speech Win

News & Politics

Entrepreneur and Twitter-owner Elon Musk has said he bought the social media platform in the interests of expanding the scope of free speech, an issue politically relevant given the predicament of the Christian satire site The Babylon Bee, found guilty by Twitter of “hateful conduct” in March 2022 for its comedic post hailing the “transgender woman” (i.e. biological male) Rachel Levine, U.S. assistant secretary for health, as “Man of the Year.” That riposte was in response to USA Today naming the biologically male Levine one of its “women of the year,” which was almost as funny.

Now, Musk has unlocked the Bee’s account, along with that of Canadian psychologist and author Jordan Peterson, guilty of a similar “offense,” and the press is grumbling about this victory for free expression.

Daily Beast media reporter Justin Baragona sounded unhappy under the headline deck “Elon Musk Reinstates Babylon Bee, Jordan Peterson, and Kathy Griffin’s Twitter Accounts — The bizarro billionaire on Friday unveiled a new “negative/hate tweets” policy and restored Griffin’s account, along with those of the transphobic Babylon Bee and [Canadian psychologist and popular author] Jordan Peterson.”

(Anti-Trump “Comedian” Kathy Griffin, suspended for impersonating Musk, also had her account restored. She had been using her dead mother’s account to tweet.)

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Baragona wrote:

“Chief Twit” Elon Musk took to Twitter on Friday to announce that he had reinstated the accounts of far-right satire site The Babylon Bee and men’s rights activist Jordan Peterson over their transphobic tweets…. While the Babylon Bee’s account wasn’t suspended, the site was unable to post from its account until it deleted the offending tweet, which violated the platform’s policy against hateful conduct….

Slate magazine’s Evan Urquhart dismissed The Babylon Bee and proved his humorlessness by describing it as “a right-wing knockoff of the Onion [which] was required to remove a tweet misgendering a prominent trans woman in the U.S. government.”

At least Variety retained the baseline journalistic sensibility to reference the Babylon Bee’s actual joke instead of treading it as “the joke that must not be told or even referred to.”

In March 2022, Twitter suspended the right-wing Babylon Bee, also under the company’s “hateful conduct” policy, after the publication announced that it had selected Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender woman who is U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health, as its “Man of the Year.” The website bills itself as “your trusted source for Christian news satire.”

Another Hollywood news outlet Deadline also demonstrated that liberal journalists can’t take jokes.

The Babylon Bee, a conservative satirical website that lost its posting privileges in March after a transphobic tweet about U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine, responded to today’s decision from Musk with: “We’re back. Let that sink in.”

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