Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon has no plans to delete the tweet that caused Twitter to lock its account because he says it would help the social media platform "eradicate objective truth" if Americans played by the tech giant’s one-sided rules.
"We don’t have any intentions of deleting the tweet," Dillon told Fox News Digital.
Dillon was notified on Sunday night that The Babylon Bee was locked out of its Twitter account, which has 1.3 million followers, after it accused the satirical site of violating its rules against "hateful conduct" over a joke naming Biden administration official Dr. Rachel Levine the satire site's "Man of the Year" for 2022. Levine, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health, is a transgender woman.
"We were doing a satirical take on USA Today recently naming Rachel Levine, a transgender individual, as one of their picks for women of the year. So we did a satirical take on this, and we named Rachel Levine as our man of the year," Dillon said. "Twitter didn’t like that very much."
In suspending the Bee's account, Twitter cited its rules against "hateful conduct," which state, "You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease."
A Twitter spokesperson told Fox News Digital that the account owner "is required to delete the violative Tweet before regaining access to their account."
The tweet in question consists of a graphic with a picture of Levine and the text "The Babylon Bee Man of the Year," along with a Babylon Bee headline, "The Babylon Bee's Man of the Year Is Rachel Levine."
While Dillon has no plans to delete the tweet, he said there are other possible paths that could get its account up and running, including an appeal.
"They may yet reach out to us, because this is starting to generate a little bit of media attention," Dillon said Monday. "We were trending on Twitter all morning."
Dillon said it’s "pretty obvious" that the Bee is a satirical site but Big Tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter have created policies to police publications and websites that "go after the wrong targets."
"The initial attacks that we face from the media and Big Tech came from this angle that we’re spreading misinformation, and we need to be fact checked, and it was really weird how they were treating these jokes so seriously and giving them a truth rating," Dillon said. "That didn’t really work out too well for them, they actually faced a lot of backlash for that, they were mocked very heavily, so there seems to be this shift in strategy. We’re now, instead of focusing on the misinformative nature of our satirical claims, they’re focusing more on the fact that we’re punching down without jokes or aiming at the wrong targets."
"They’re making judgement calls based on your motives and who you’re joking about, whether or not your jokes really count as jokes or if they count as hate speech," Dillon said. "That’s this tricky area that we’re landing in doing comedy as conservatives whose views simply differ from the popular narrative."
Dillon said the Babylon Bee’s comic style might not align with coastal elite media members and Big Tech executives, but he feels the average American is on the same page as the Bee.
"We don’t concede for a moment that we are speaking hate speech here," he said. "We’re punching back, not down, and we’re poking holes in the popular narrative."
He doesn’t think that a liberal site would have been punished by Twitter for sharing a similar joke about a transgender conservative such as Caitlyn Jenner.
"These rules have always been enforced arbitrarily and inconsistently," Dillon said. "They don’t tend to enforce them in the same way for characters on the left."
Dillon cited death threats against former President Trump as widespread examples of messages that are actual hate speech but don't result in Twitter accounts being locked.
"They would say horrible things about him and remained on the platform, and never got dinged for anything, it just simply doesn’t work the same way in the other direction. Conservatives don’t have the same freedom to speak that way, not that they should. But they can’t because the rules aren’t applied fairly," Dillon said.
Dillon rejected the notion that "speaking facts" can be considered hateful, and feels the tweets about Levine weren’t coming from a "mean-spirited place of hate."
"I just disagree with this idea that speaking facts can possibly be hateful. I mean, you can say it with a hateful tone, sure I guess, but a fact is a fact, and it doesn’t really matter what your motives are in stating it. Simply stating a fact is not hate speech," he said. "There is something that needs to give here with these policies."
Dillon encourages fans of the Bee to stand for the truth because censoring yourself is "doing the tyrant’s work for him" and Twitter would be to "eradicate objective truth" if everyone caved to their policies.
"Insist that two and two make four even if Twitter tries to compel you to say otherwise," he said. "If that means you get banned, then so be it. Let them ban millions of us. Let them ban tens of millions of us and ban themselves into irrelevance."
In March 2021, The New York Times insinuated that The Babylon Bee is a "far-right misinformation site." The Times apologized after the Bee threatened a lawsuit.
The left-leaning fact-checker Snopes has long also gone after the Bee, once even fact-checking a story that CNN had bought a washing machine to "spin the news." After Snopes declared the article "false," Facebook warned The Babylon Bee that "repeat offenders will see their distribution reduced."
In June 2021, Facebook announced upcoming updates to its "satire exception" to its "Hate Speech Community Standard," warning that "true satire does not ‘punch down.'" One week later, Slate published an article claiming that The Babylon Bee "has a nasty tendency to punch down." Facebook had previously demonetized the satire site, claiming that a satirical article that quoted "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" constituted an incitement to violence.
"Let them ban you," Dillon said. "They might actually ease up on these things if they realize how many people they had to ban to [get] rid of objective truth."
Fox News’ Tyler O’Neil contributed to this report.