The Bee is free
Twitter gives the beloved satire website its wings back
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We now interrupt this magazine to report an attempted murder. I learned of it when my phone rang on Halloween. It was my neighbor Diane, and she delivered shocking news:
“Chicken Carrot is missing,” she said.
Remember those coyotes I mentioned a few issues ago, the ones that yip-yip-yip on the horse ranch out back? Well, a wily one loped a quarter mile out of his way to make a daylight raid on Bob and Diane’s chicken coop.
A search party formed, but poor Chicken Carrot—the speckled hen Bob and Diane’s granddaughter named—was nowhere in sight.
Chicken Carrot isn’t the only bird in the news lately. The billionaire Elon Musk set a certain bluebird free amid much conservative rejoicing. Red State users this month flocked back to Twitter while Blue Check liberals pledged to boycott the site. Musk hung out his shingle—Under New Management—and went about reinstating users suspended by Old Management and its shock-troop bots.
But not everyone was immediately sprung from Twitter jail, and that included the Babylon Bee. The Bee, you may know, is a Christian satire site that since its 2016 founding has ridden a rocket ship from amusing diversion to downright beloved.
In an era in which the left decries the mortal danger of “misinformation,” the Bee bills itself as “The definitive source of fake news you can trust.”
You can see how the two don’t mix.
On March 20, 2022, the Bee named Assistant Secretary of Health Admiral Rachel Levine, “Man of the Year.” Twitter promptly suspended the Bee’s account, citing rules against “hate speech”—notwithstanding the fact that Rachel Levine’s body is overrun by trillions of pesky Y chromosomes.
Twitter didn’t boot the Bee. Neither did it delete the Levine tweet. Instead, Twitter locked the Bee in digital purgatory and demanded it atone for its sins. In his cover essay, “Dangerously Funny,” Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon explains why he thought Twitter’s demand that the Bee—and others—kneel before idols of woke culture is even more ominous than outright banning.
Indeed, things are getting weird out there. Seth called my attention to a screen capture of a PowerPoint slide he’d posted on his personal Twitter feed. The slide was plucked from an actual presentation delivered recently at Columbia University in New York City. The title on the slide: “The Strategic Use of Humor by the Far Right.”
(Cue Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.)
Among the bullet points:
The right uses “subversive measures like jokes and laughter” to “shift the boundaries of discourse.”
People on the right don’t laugh because something’s funny. Instead, they “practice laughter as a coping mechanism of personal interaction.”
According to the Columbia presenter, “seeing people suffer is important” to people on the right, since they (apparently) like to indulge in “the pleasures of hatred.”
It’s this kind of inflammatory rhetoric that fuels the war on satire: leftist academics behind the curtain, cranking the wheels, lacquering censorship with a veneer of “data.” It’s what Elon Musk is up against as he attempts to restore Twitter, the planet’s most influential public square, to its status as the most egalitarian one as well.
And although it took a few weeks as Musk threaded those needles, on Nov. 18 the Bee’s Twitter account was finally set free.
And so was Chicken Carrot!
Diane followed up her Halloween phone call with a text: Bob had scoured the property and found our heroine on a hilltop—bruised, bedraggled, and missing hundreds of feathers—but very much alive.
We’re not sure how Chicken Carrot escaped her captor. We think maybe Riley—Bob and Diane’s intrepid little shepherd mix—sprinted in and scared the coyote away. In the end, Chicken Carrot toddled back to her coop under her own steam.
Happily, Elon Musk and the Twitter bluebird proved equally brave.
—This column was updated on Nov. 18 to reflect the restoration of the Babylon Bee’s Twitter account.
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