Posted on September 8, 2021

Our Fight for the Right to Make Jokes

Seth Dillon, National Review, August 31, 2021

Almost daily, we get an email from one of our readers informing us that they usually like satire, but this time we’ve gone too far. They go on to explain that whatever we’d just skewered is off limits and should be left alone. {snip}


But unlike the occasional disgruntled reader, the Left isn’t objecting to a one-off joke of ours. They’re objecting to our very existence as a conservative satire site. They don’t just want us to take down an offensive piece of satire; they want us to stop writing satire altogether.

Back in March, the New York Times ran a piece about Facebook’s difficulty in dealing with satire and irony on their platform. The author of that piece, Mike Isaac, pointed to The Babylon Bee as an example of a “far-right misinformation site” that “sometimes trafficked in misinformation under the guise of satire.” He said we dishonestly claim to be satire in order to protect our presence on social media.

This was false. It was defamation.


These malicious mischaracterizations are nothing new. Previously, Times reporter Kevin Roose wrote a defamatory piece in which he claimed that we “capitalize on confusion” and have a “habit of skirting the line between misinformation and satire,” whatever that means. CNN reporters made similar allegations. Snopes had to revise a fact check that suggested we deceive people on purpose.


Facebook just announced they’ll be moderating satire to make sure it doesn’t “punch down.” Anything that punches down — that is, anything that takes aim at protected targets Facebook doesn’t want you joking about — doesn’t qualify as “true satire.” In fact, they’ve made it clear they’ll consider jokes that punch down to be hatred disguised as satire. They write: “Indeed, humor can be an effective mode of communicating hateful ideas.”

Mere days after this announcement was made, Slate published a piece accusing us of having a “nasty tendency to punch down.” Shortly after it ran, that quote found its way onto our Wikipedia page, further solidifying the narrative.

This is not a coincidence. Having failed in their effort to lump us in with fake news, the media and Big Tech are looking for new ways to work together to deplatform us. They now hope to discredit us by saying we’re spreading hatred — rather than misinformation — under the guise of satire.