The balls on Dick Levine, America’s only four-star admiral with more testosterone than the strongest woman on Themyscira and less strength than any Amazon save a late warehouse worker for Amazon.com. The fact that Dick has no dick, that he’s a woman named Rachel who’s a pediatrician and assistant secretary for health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, doesn’t mean he—she—is without phantom limb pain. The fact is, Dr. Levine, one of USA Today’s “Women of the Year,” may still be hard. No matter how you slice it, whether you snip a little for Dick or go the whole hog for Rachel, Levine may be very happy to see her name in print.
Less happy is Twitter, or rather Twitter isn’t happy with The Babylon Bee, because the Bee says Levine is its “Man of the Year.”
Twitter says the Bee must delete the tweet about Levine, or stay in the phantom zone of exile, because offensiveness isn’t funny and some offenses are too funny to post on Twitter.
Whether the Bee’s guilty of “hateful conduct” depends on whether its conduct threatens the sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity of Dick, not Rachel Levine, because Dick’s dead—he predeceases the Bee’s birth—while Rachel’s free to be all she can be, in the Navy’s version of an Army of one.
Levine’s lifestyle isn’t my concern, which isn’t to say I’m indifferent to those who would harass or threaten her, for no such right exists; for no one has the right to wrong a fellow citizen; for no one has the right to break the law with impunity, regardless of the victim’s color, creed, or status.
But Levine’s rights don’t come with a rider, exempting her from criticism or satire.
She’s a public figure, which means the Bee has the right to write about her.
The Bee’s rights are several and sound, regardless of how judges read and interpret the Constitution, because most judges—whether originalists who say the Constitution means what it says, or activists who say the Constitution has a constitution and life of its own—recognize that defamation requires “actual malice.”
Were Twitter to accept this rule, and abide by the unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, we’d get to the truth.
Were the Bee a newspaper rather than a news satire site, we’d put science on trial, and prove Levine isn’t a woman: that publication of a statement isn’t defamatory, never mind evidence of hateful conduct, if a statement is true; that the Bee’s Man of the Year is in fact a man; that all the somatic cells in his body contain one X and one Y chromosome.
Were we free to share the truth on Twitter, we wouldn’t have to take up the armor of devotion and resist the evil of lies.
Were we to speak the truth, we would be free.