The Babylon Bee has big plans for Twitter
The Babylon Bee is one of America's best news outlets. Sure, technically it's satire, but it has an unerring knack for going straight to the heart of an issue and teasing out what's important. In my book, that makes it a lot more useful than the New York Times or the Washington Post. Plus the articles are better written.
Now we have a new reason to like the Bee: following the Fifth Circuit's decision holding that H.B. 20, the Texas law prohibiting social media viewpoint discrimination, the Bee's CEO, Seth Dillon, is promising to go after Twitter for banning it from the platform.
The Fifth Circuit accepted the theory that the social media outlets have moved into the status of common carriers because they are the primary means by which most Americans obtain and share information. That means that they can no longer hide behind the claim that, as private corporations, they can do whatever they want.
The decision is a huge deal because it effectively ends social media's viewpoint discrimination. A federal district court has emphatically ruled that it is unconstitutional for social media outlets to engage in viewpoint discrimination and censorship. Of course, the Supreme Could can still overturn the ruling, but for now, it stands.
Meanwhile, in March 2022, the Babylon Bee published an incredibly funny article naming "Rachel" Levine "Man of the Year" to counter USA Today's ridiculous decision to name him "Woman of the Year." Levine is a man named Richard who aggressively pushes for "transing" children under the guise of health care. For that reason, reminding people who and what he really is was a great joke, and the Bee did it in a delicate and classy way.
The people at Twitter, however, were not amused. How dare the Bee focus Americans' attention on the fact that Levine is a kind of creepy old guy in a dress? So Twitter locked the Babylon Bee's account:
Twitter locked the account of a right-leaning parody site, The Babylon Bee, after it awarded Rachel Levine, the transgender Biden administration official, the title of "man of the year."
The Babylon Bee story was a reaction to USA Today's naming of Levine, who is US assistant secretary for health for the US Department of Health and Human Services, as one of its "women of the year" last week.
Twitter says it will restore the account, which has more than 1.3 million followers, if the Bee deletes the tweet, but CEO Seth Dillon says he has no intention of doing so.
"We're not deleting anything," Dillon tweeted from his personal account. "Truth is not hate speech. If the cost of telling the truth is the loss of our Twitter account, then so be it."
Dillon made the correct and principled decision. However, there's a cost to losing a Twitter account. It drives traffic to sites, and traffic buys advertising clicks, which are the lifeblood of most internet sites.
With the Fifth Circuit having spoken, though, Dillon has plans, big plans, and Twitter is not going to like them. Using his personal Twitter account, Dillon laid out exactly what has happened and what will happen:
How's this for a timeline?— Seth Dillon (@SethDillon) September 20, 2022
Sept 2021: Texas passes a law (HB 20) to protect free speech by limiting Big Tech's ability to censor based on viewpoint.
Sept 2021: Two trade groups representing Big Tech immediately filed suit to try and block the law.
Dec 2021: An Obama-appointed judge ruled in favor of Big Tech, blocking the law from going into effect. In his ruling, he said it would be unconstitutional to put limits on the ability of social media platforms to moderate content as they see fit.— Seth Dillon (@SethDillon) September 20, 2022
March 2022: Twitter locks out the Babylon Bee for making a joke they didn't like.— Seth Dillon (@SethDillon) September 20, 2022
Sept 2022: The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns the earlier decision on HB 20, saying the law is constitutional because it chills censorship, not speech.
October 2022: The Babylon Bee sues Twitter.— Seth Dillon (@SethDillon) September 20, 2022
That sounds like a promise, doesn't it? I sincerely hope that the suit isn't just about unlocking the account. It should, instead, provide a detailed accounting of the revenue lost because of Twitter's unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.
Image: Richard "Rachel" Levine. YouTube screen grab.