Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon, Joe Rogan debate abortion: 'All life is valuable'

Joe Rogan podcast
Joe Rogan discusses abortion with Seth Dillon during an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience. |

Seth Dillon, CEO of the satirical website The Babylon Bee, was a guest on Joe Rogan’s podcast Tuesday, with the two debating if there are circumstances when an abortion can be justified. 

In an episode of "The Joe Rogan Experience," Dillon and the titular host discussed various political issues, including abortion.

Rogan started the conversation by stating that he believes abortion is justified in cases of rape, arguing that a hypothetical 14-year-old girl who became pregnant after rape should not be forced to carry her rapist’s child. 

Dillon responded by saying some pro-life activists conceived in rape argue they had a right to live regardless of the circumstances of their conception. 

“I don’t think two wrongs make a right,” he said as Rogan challenged him on the issue. “I don’t think murder fixes a rape.”

The podcast host moved the discussion to abortions that occur early in the first trimester and when human life becomes valuable. 

“What if we’re talking about an abortion when the fetus is like, six weeks, four weeks, three days?” Rogan asked. “What if she just turned positive for the pregnancy? What if it just happened today?”

The Babylon Bee CEO said it's impossible to draw a line on when human life begins, but that abortion involved killing "an innocent human life."

“I would lay it out like this,” Dillon said. “I would say that it is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human life. Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human life. Therefore abortion is wrong."

"And I don’t think any of the examples of how developed is it, can it think, is it conscious, can it dream, can it feel pain.” 

When asked if he thinks life starts at conception, Dillon said that the being inside the woman is a human life, and it is wrong to terminate it.

During the nearly three-hour episode, Dillon objected to the fact that his satire website has received “misinformation” labels, claiming that such labels from fact-checking sites are a double standard. He stated that the abortion industry is not held to the same level of scrutiny for misleading people about life inside the womb. 

“What about calling that baby a 'clump of cells'? I think that’s harmful misinformation,” he said. “And then you’re encouraging people to kill it like it’s nothing when it’s actually a human life.” 

Toward the end of the discussion, Rogan admitted he could understand the points Dillon was making, stating this is why the topic of abortion is such a “human issue.” 

“I think what we agree with is what you are trying to say is that all life is valuable. All life is valuable. At the moment of conception, it’s valuable — it’s all valuable,” Rogan said.

Earlier this month, Dillon gave a speech at the Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, Virginia. He said he thinks it is "increasingly becoming more and more difficult" for Christians to speak "the truth boldly in the public square."

Dillon added that if every person is "created equally in God's image," all comedians should be able to joke about anyone they choose "indiscriminately."

"Isn't that the way of treating each other equally?” Dillon asked. 

"If I were to make a joke about women, I'd be 'punching down' because men supposedly have more power and privilege than women in our society. Well, I would only be reinforcing that if I acted like I couldn't make jokes about women because they're beneath me. I'm reinforcing that idea."

"If I joke about them, I'm treating them equally," he added. "So, I will. I'll continue to joke about you throughout the night. And you will like it and not slap me."

Babylon Bee has garnered criticism from popular fact-checking website Snopes, which has been known to treat Bee stories as though they were misinformation from a new platform rather than satire. 

In 2019, Snopes defended its methodology by posting an article that included academic research indicating that “stories published by The Bee were among the most shared factually inaccurate content in almost every survey we conducted.”

For his part, Babylon Bee editor-in-chief Kyle Mann responded via a series of tweets that took issue with the researchers paraphrasing satirical story claims when asking their respondents. 

"That survey @snopes shared is horrible. Did they seriously paraphrase Bee stories and ask people if they thought they were true? That's an awful way to figure out what percentage of people will believe satire," tweeted Mann at the time. 

"This is totally different from how people actually engage with our stories, where the over-the-top content on the site and social feeds, the site name, our freakin' tagline, a goofy photoshop, are pretty darn big clues that it's satire. ... Do people get fooled? Sure, sometimes. But this survey is a horrible way to prove that."

In an October 2020 interview with The New York Times, the outlet’s reporter Emma Goldberg discussed her research into the site and The Babylon Bee’s tendency to be mistaken for a legitimate news website.

While the satire news site feels it is being unfairly targeted, Goldberg believes it has not done much to stop people from taking their stories seriously.

“The Bee feels that they’re being targeted unfairly. But Snopes has poked at the fact that their pieces can sometimes be easily mistaken for real news — which might fall on them, not their readers,” she said.

In March, Twitter suspended The Baylon Bee's account over a satirical story referring to Rachel Levine, a trans-identified Biden official who is biologically male but identifies as female, as a man.

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