Faith

Is the Babylon Bee's Satire on Our Culture's LGBT Obsession Really Just Bigotry?

President Barack Obama laughs as he listens to Larry Wilmore, the guest host from Comedy Central, speak at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington, Saturday, April 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Some liberals, it seems, can’t take a joke. One author on Medium attacked the Christian satirical news site The Babylon Bee as trying to “pass bigotry off as satire.” Apparently, it’s unacceptable to mock the present cultural trend of bending over backwards to accommodate gays, lesbians, and especially transgenders.

Jonathan Hollingsworth, author of the book Runaway Radical: A Young Man’s Reckless Journey to Save the World and contributor to Religion News Service and Relevant magazine, doesn’t just think mocking the LGBT push is wrong — he calls it “oppressive.”

Here are the articles Hollingsworth takes particular issue with:

 

The self-identity articles mock the ever-expanding trend of people “identifying” as things they are not. Transgender people claim they identify as the gender opposite their biological sex, and now many argue that the solution is for them to undergo surgery to become the opposite sex — something never fully possible because DNA (which determines biological sex as male or female) cannot be changed.

It’s not just transgender people, though. One woman believes she is a cat. There is a movement of “human pups,” a group of grown men who identify as puppies: they walk on hands and knees, eat out of dog bowls, and have gay “handlers.” Finally, one man underwent surgery to become a woman, but then decided it wasn’t enough. He had his teeth and ears removed and his nose modified, and got horn implants and a forked tongue in order to become a dragon lady.

Some parts of this movement are legitimately sick, and deserve to be mocked. People who struggle with gender dysphoria (feelings of alienation from their birth gender) should be embraced and helped, but data show that buying into their “transition” identity does not help them — even when all of society is accepting of it! The most comprehensive study of transgenderism (done in very pro-trans Sweden over a thirty-year period) showed that after sex reassignment, people have “higher risks for mortality, suicidal behavior, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population.”

Worse, whenever anyone questions the logic of encouraging a “transition” from a person’s birth and nature to something that person biologically is not, they are branded as a bigot. When people express concern about little girls being forced to share bathrooms and changing rooms with people who are biologically male, they are attacked as “transphobic.” This is a serious concern, as Christians teach that God created humans male and female, and that that creation is good.

In this situation, Christians really do feel alienated and insulted, and comics like this (from Babylon Bee founder Adam Ford on his earlier website www.Adam4D.com) strike a chord:

Medium Screenshot

Medium Screenshot

Next Page: How Hollingsworth attacks this satire as “bigotry” and “oppressive.”

Nevermind. For Hollingsworth, mocking this cultural trend is, quite simply, evil.

The Babylon Bee is Ford’s latest project, and its more mainstream appeal, I think, is due not to the quality of its humor or the salience of its social critique, but in its ability to pass bigotry off as satire. The Babylon Bee gives privileged Christians permission to laugh at people who aren’t like them, and to do so in plain sight. Better yet, the medium provides readers with a ready-made excuse to ward off criticism. “It’s not transphobic,” they can say. “It’s just a joke.”

Christian satire continues to miss the mark because it fails to do the work of good satire, which at its heart, fittingly enough, is a prophetic art. The Biblical prophets found their witness not in mocking the vulnerable, but in challenging the powerful. Christian culture’s refusal to acknowledge privilege, intersectionality, and basic power dynamics means that it will always misidentify, as the comic above does, who the truly marginalized in our society are. Satire that punches down, rather than up, is not only ignorant — it’s oppressive.

Let’s address his points, one by one.

First, he calls mocking the cultural trend as “bigotry” and “transphobia.” Bigotry means “intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself,” and “transphobia” means “intense dislike or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people.” Mocking opinions is not the same thing as intolerance toward people, and mocking our culture’s demands that we bend over backwards to accommodate transgenders is not the same as “intense dislike or prejudice” against them.

It is quite possible to love someone and to disagree with their decisions — in fact, many parents would say it is for their children, and some pediatricians have called teaching kids that gender is fluid a form of “child abuse.”

Second, Hollingsworth says satire like this is not “prophetic.” By this, he likely means two things — it isn’t “on the right side of history” and it isn’t upholding “the truly marginalized.”

The idea that transgender rights are on the “right side of history” assumes many things, such as the idea that history itself takes sides, and that those sides always match the leftist “progressive” ideology. This “Whig History” is a prominent feature in leftism and Marxism, and it ignores the fact that history — or the sum total of events occurring in the world — has no definite direction and even if it does, that direction is far too complicated for anyone to know.

Finally, he repeats the doctrine that gays, lesbians, and transgenders are the “truly marginalized.” Technically speaking, this isn’t true. When former Olympian Bruce Jenner declared his new identity as “Caitlyn,” it blew up the internet and news outlets. When North Carolina passed a law saying that biological men should use men’s restrooms and biological women should use women’s restrooms, business leaders across the country denounced them, supporting the “pro-transgender” side.

I will never deny that it is important for Christians to acknowledge the dignity of all people, and to love both our friends and our enemies. But love means more than just approving of what people do. In fact, if an ideology is harming people, we should speak out against it. And in a constitutional republic which values free speech and religious freedom like ours, Christians should be part of the discussion, too. The true bigotry is when others simply try to silence Christian views as “bigoted.”

Next Page: The Babylon Bee’s perfect response.

Rather than respond to Hollingsworth with arguments, The Babylon Bee chose to mock his attack instead.

The article quotes a local woman, who says satire has to be done just right. “The way to really nail it is to critique only opinions and viewpoints that are not my own personal opinions and viewpoints, but those belonging to other people,” she said.

“Explaining that people can be very sensitive and some don’t seem to have much of a sense of humor, and thus, satire is definitely not for everyone, the mother of three went on to confirm that she is still ‘very much in favor’ of the medium as a social commentary,” The Babylon Bee reported. “‘I’m all for it, totally-unless it ever tries to dip its toe into my sacred pond of personal beliefs. If that happens, it’s crossed a line from profitable to destructive, and at that point it needs to be silenced immediately.'”

In this way, The Babylon Bee shut down the arguments of Hollingsworth and other detractors, noting that they fit their own criticisms about sensitivity and lacking a sense of humor. Well done, “bigot,” well done.