William Shatner Voices Dismay At Reddit's Dark Side

Posted: Updated:
Print Article
SHATNER
AP

Days after speaking with astronauts on the International Space Station, William Shatner is back - and this time he's slumming it on Reddit.

The 81-year-old Star Trek actor has been a regular user of the site since January, but has now made headlines in the tech press after taking issue with Reddit's considerable dark side.

In a conversation posted on the discussion site, Shatner said he was dismayed at the extent to which racism, sexism and other offensive content is allowed to thrive there.

Reddit's users take pride in its willingness to protect the 'free speech' and distasteful views of some of its users, even if it disagrees with them. Reddit's terms of use ban only a small range of posts, including those which contain sexualised images of children and those which are outright illegal.

But for Shatner - and many other people who use Reddit - the site doesn't go far enough in finding a balance between open conversation and what for some is a tactic encouragement of boorish hate speech.

In a thread that began as a feature request related to private messages, Shatner explained his views about racist and sexist content on the site.

"I am apalled by some of the immature, horrifically racist, sexist, homophobic, ethnic... etc.. posts that are just ignored here," he wrote.

"Why are these accounts still active? While Reddit has done well in getting interest from the mainstream I just wonder if by allowing these children to run rampant and post whatever they feel will cause the most collateral damage if Reddit is biting off it's own nose in taking that step to become a mainstream community."

In response to some criticism and debate, Shatner said that was was writing simply as a user with a view, but encouraged Reddit to re-evaluate its guidelines.

Shatner wrote in another post:

"Reddit has been the first ‘mainstream’ site that I have been to that actually appears to allow racists and other hate mongers to group, congregate, incite and spread their hatred. There’s entire subreddits that allow it. What mainstream sites do you think are more racist?"

He also pointed to Reddit's 'rules', which are a set of guidelines rather than 'laws', which include the condition:

"Remember the human. When you communicate online, all you see is a computer screen. When talking to someone you might want to ask yourself ‘Would I say it to the person’s face?’ or ‘Would I get jumped if I said this to a buddy?’"

The conversation is long and balanced, and if you have the time it's worth reading in full.

While Shatner humbly concluded that "logic was not my forte on Star Trek", he ended by re-emphasising that his opinion was only that - nothing more, or less.

"If I came across as preaching or demanding something be done, I apologize," he said.

"Demands were not my intention but I do hope that my viewpoints as well as the viewpoints and counter arguments of others are considered."