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Facebook Stings Babylon Bee

Sen. Mazie Hirono (right), in a photo from The Babylon Bee

During the Amy Coney Barrett hearings, The Babylon Bee, an Onion-like humor site for conservatives, published a story that starts like this:

WASHINGTON, D.C.—After two days of Amy Coney Barrett gracefully and stoically answering questions with perfect recall and no notes, suspicions grew on Capitol Hill that she might be a practitioner of the dark arts.

“Oh, she’s a witch alright, just look at her!” said Senator Hirono. “Just look at the way she’s dressed and how she’s so much prettier and smarter than us! She’s in league with Beelzebub himself, I just know it! We must burn her!”

Senator Hirono then pulled a live duck out of a massive burlap sack next to her and announced: “In addition to being a Senator, I am also quite wise in the ways of science. Everyone knows witches burn because they are made of wood. I think I read that somewhere. Wood floats, and so do ducks– so logically, if Amy Coney Barrett weighs as much as this duck I found in the reflection pool outside, she is a witch and must be burned.”

OK, it’s not that funny — but it is unmistakably a joke. It was not that funny because all of us have seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail eleventy-million times. Here’s the scene that the joke is lifted from:

OK, but now this actually happened:

There is a zero percent chance that Facebook’s censors don’t understand that this is a joke, and a zero percent chance that they really believe that repeating a gag from a universally beloved comedy film that’s nearly fifty years old incites violence.

What is it, then? It’s Facebook flexing its muscle to punish a comedy website that made fun of Democratic politicians.

They have demonetized The Babylon Bee for a groundless reason, making it harder for the people who write for the Bee to make a living. I wrote yesterday about Amazon deciding not to allow Shelby and Eli Steele’s terrific documentary What Killed Michael Brown? 

Amazon told the filmmakers that it was for unspecified “content” reasons. I watched the film, which is formally excellent, but contains content that challenges the left-wing narrative about race in America — this, from the point of view of a highly regarded black conservative academic, Shelby Steele. The only conceivable reason Amazon is doing this is to manage the Narrative.

That’s a serious issue. What Facebook is doing to the Bee might seem more trivial, but it’s not. The idea that you cannot even make a 45-year-old joke about a Democratic politician without losing your ability to make an income on Facebook ought to tick you off. Who’s next? Big Tech has way too much power, and they’re using it to silence conservatives on matters both serious and silly.

Who do they hire at Facebook to make these decisions? Facebook — and Twitter, and Amazon, and Google — deserve what’s eventually coming to them. Did you hear about the Justice Department’s big antitrust lawsuit filed today against Google? That’s going to take years to resolve, but I hope that both Republicans and Democrats understand that the power of Big Tech over the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Americans is a bad thing.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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