If your job is to make people laugh, what do you do when your brand of humor is classified as dangerous?
I run the Babylon Bee, a satirical website, and we’ve had to face that question a lot lately. The “fact checkers” at Snopes.com—once a reliable source for distinguishing reality from urban legends—have been smearing the Bee as “fake news.” They don’t seem to have a problem when we make fun of Trump-worship, conservatives, fundamentalism and megachurches. But when we target Democrats and the left, suddenly we’re branded liars.
The most recent controversy began when Snopes published a thorough “debunking” of our satirical take on Georgia state Rep. Erica Thomas ’s false claim that a white man in a supermarket told her to “go back to where you came from.” Our humorous headline: “Georgia Lawmaker Claims Chick-fil-A Employee Told Her to Go Back to Her Country, Later Clarifies He Actually Said ‘My Pleasure.’ ”
Snopes knew this was a joke but questioned our “brand” of satire. The website called us “junk news” and a “ruse.” It accused us of intentionally “muddying the details” of a current event to “fool” people. . . .
This ugly dispute has demonstrated the danger of assigning authority to supposedly unbiased fact-checkers. They have the power to slap a joke they don’t like with a “false” rating and defame the authors as purveyors of lies and fakery. Last year Facebook threatened to forbid us to collect money from ads, and even to boot us entirely, after Snopes “fact checked” a piece of ours headlined “CNN Purchases Industrial Washing Machine to Spin the News.”
The Left understands and employs the power of mockery. And it wants to keep that power to itself.