It may have been many years since he was on “Star Trek,” but Montreal-born William Shatner is reaching out into the great unknown again – in more ways than one.
Much like space, the Internet is another uncharted frontier, and Shatner seems to think it should be a little more controlled – on Reddit, at least. The 81-year-old actor recently joined the sprawling online community last month for an “Ask Me Anything” session with his devoted Trekkies. And though since then he’s become active in the “Star Trek” subreddit, Shatner revealed that he has found elements of Reddit to be less savory.
In a post titled “Turning off private messages” in a section for suggestions to improve Reddit’s administration, he started out asking for a feature to stop an intimidating stream of fan requests. Eventually, Shatner let off some steam.
“I am appalled [sic] by some of the immature, horrifically racist, sexist, homophobic, ethnic... etc.. posts that are just ignored here. Why are these accounts still active?” he wrote.
“The fact that someone could come here, debase and degrade people based on race, religion, ethnicity or sexual preference because they 'have a right' to do so without worry of any kind of moderation is sending the wrong message, in my humble opinion,” he continued. “I don't pretend to know where the managers of Reddit wish to go with this site but embracing that kind of culture I feel is counterproductive to where this world is heading and I think that is probably hurting this site.”
Though Reddit openly values the right to free speech and allows volunteer moderators to monitor their subreddits (specialized channels according to a theme), some users rallied around Shatner’s comments. Others weren’t as supportive.
“So your saying reddit should not allow for the first ammendment? You should be president. Please take away our guns also!!! Save us from ourselves because apparently you know best!!!” wrote the user NJSkimmer.
“First of all, I'm Canadian. Second of all Reddit is world wide. So 'first amendment' means nothing online,” Shatner responded.
Since Shatner posted his first comment on Friday, has amassed almost three thousand responses. And just so we can relax, his first request is being taken care of and he thinks he’s got the hang of it now.
“I’m so moved to be able to speak to you for this brief moment,” Shatner told the 53-year-old astronaut from Sarnia, Ont., before chatting about the United States space program, the breathtaking photos Hadfield tweets from his bird’s-eye-view, and the fear or danger in volunteering to go into space.
“You’ve taken a lot of risks in your life as well. It was a risk that I decided to take many many years ago, really to accomplish anything worthwhile in life is going to take risks,” Hadfield said, giving his microphone a little anti-gravitational spin in the air.
He also told Shatner about the sci-fi inspirations that led to Hadfield’s interest in the great beyond.
“Between the real life exploits of the first astronauts and the visually fantasized and enlivened ones like you portrayed on 'Star Trek' ... they inspire people like me to do things like this,” he said.
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Upon ending the conversation, Hadfield and Shatner planned to reconvene their chat at Hadfield’s cottage in Ontario.
“Thanks to @WilliamShatner for the thoughtful, researched and insightful questions today. Looking forward to meeting in-person back on Earth!” Hadfield tweeted. Now that’s a conversation you can’t get on Reddit.