The Christian satire site The Babylon Bee is refusing to back down after Twitter locked its account over a tweet naming U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine the satire site's "Man of the Year" for 2022.
"I just received this notice that we’ve been locked out of our account for ‘hateful conduct,’" Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon wrote on Twitter, sharing a screenshot of the social media platform's notice that the Bee's account had been suspended.
"Hi The Babylon Bee, Your account, @TheBabylonBee has been locked for violating the Twitter Rules," the message reads.
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."
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."
The satire site published a satirical article dubbing Levine "Man of the Year" on March 15.
"The Babylon Bee has selected Rachel Levine as its first annual Man of the Year," the post reads. "Levine is the U.S. assistant secretary for health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he serves proudly as the first man in that position to dress like a western cultural stereotype of a woman. He is also an admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. What a boss!"
"Rachel's original name is Richard Levine, but he changed it to Rachel for some strange reason a few years ago," the post jokingly continues. "Who cares? Who says a dude as accomplished as this can't be named "Rachel?" This king doesn't care what people think about him! He often wears a dress, which some people think is weird—but he doesn't care one bit. Come on! Men in India wear dress-type garments, don't they?"
The post came two days after USA TODAY named Levine one of its "Women of the Year."
In 2018, Twitter announced that it would consider "targeted misgendering or dead naming of transgender individuals" to be a violation of its "hateful conduct" policy.
"The account you referenced as been temporarily blocked for violating our hateful conduct policy," a Twitter spokesperson told Fox News Digital. "The account owner is required to delete the violative Tweet before regaining access to their account."
"We're told our account will be restored in 12 hours, but the countdown won't begin until we delete the tweet that violates the Twitter Rules," Dillon added.
"We're not deleting anything," Dillon added. "Truth is not hate speech. If the cost of telling the truth is the loss of our Twitter account, then so be it."
The Babylon Bee CEO listed some ways that people "can help" his cause.
"Never censor yourself," he wrote. "Insist that 2 and 2 make 4 even if Twitter tries to compel you to say otherwise. Make them ban tens of millions of us."
He also asked readers to subscribe to the Babylon Bee email list or become a premium subscriber. "If enough of you do that, we won't need traffic from big tech platforms to generate revenue," Dillon added.
Other social media platforms have reportedly targeted The Babylon Bee.
The left-leaning fact-checker Snopes – which suspended its own co-founder last year after it discovered he had plagiarized 54 articles on Snopes – has long targeted The Babylon Bee. In 2018, Snopes fact-checked a Babylon Bee satire article claiming 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."
Snopes has also played satire police in attacking the Bee. In one instance, the fact-checking site declared, "We’re not sure if fanning the flames of controversy and muddying the details of a news story classify an article as ‘satire.’" Lawyers for the Bee have argued that Snopes tried to deplatform the conservative satire site, in part by claiming that the Bee’s satire is somehow not satirical enough.
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.
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.