William Shatner once told Trekkies to “get a life!” in an SNL sketch, but now he’s set his phasers on a different target: social justice warriors.
On Sunday, July 30, Shatner fired off a series of tweets, all in response to various Twitter users debating about his stance on what does and does not constitute an “SJW,” whether or not it is a good thing, and why he says he can block people without appearing to be like President Donald Trump. It can all get confusing pretty fast, but the takeaway is this: liberal-leaning people on Twitter are mad at Shatner because it seems like he hates social justice warriors. Many are even calling him a “milkshake duck”. Here’s what appears to have happened.
The trouble actually began brewing on Wednesday, July 26, when Shatner openly quibbled over the definition of what a social justice warrior is/is not. Seemingly, this was Shatner lighting a match and then looking around to see if gasoline would form around him. Which it did. Countless Twitter users tweeted at Shatner, most angry that he was so dismissive of SJWs in general.
Earlier that same day, at the Kentucky State Fair, Shatner fell off of a horse, landing face-first into the dirt. There’s not a direct correlation here, but it’s worth nothing it happened on the same day that Shatner’s latest anti-SJW tweets began.
There are a lot of tweets to unpack here, but this is the basic gist: William Shatner insists he doesn’t want “political” tweets in his feed, and he also thinks what he defines as “SJWs” are co-opting ‘60s liberalism and censoring free speech. Most of the tweets containing this kind of rhetoric started up the weekend following the Wednesday horse-fall incident.
Shatner also claimed he had a right to use words like “misandry” and “snowflake,” seemingly implying he didn’t care if others were offended by his use of such terms. (This also seemed linked to his annoyance about SJWs.)
Shatner was also mad about someone equating him to Trump, including Trump’s propensity to block users aggressively. Because his Twitter profile and header image warn that he doesn’t want people to be “political,” he claims any blocking of users on Twitter is because they are putting political content into his feed. Obviously, because Shatner engages with these users, this feels like a contradiction. It’s also confusing as to what he defines as “political.”
In addition to slamming SJWs, Shatner also took a swipe at Game of Thrones fans, implying that the fandom has been subsumed by people on Twitter making snide observations.
What does it all mean? Is William Shatner a conservative? Pro-Trump? The answer is probably not. Over the years, Shatner’s politics have almost always been left-leaning, though sympathy for extremist conservatives isn’t exactly foreign to him. He interviewed Rush Limbaugh on his old talk show Shatner’s Raw Nerve in 2009. And, in 2015, Shatner briefly (on Twitter) defended aspects of Gamergate, though he condemned their tactics. Notably, when he was seemingly sticking up for the philosophies of Gamergate, his Twitter profile picture was also in support of LGBT pride.
On Monday, Shatner seemed to try and side-step any controversy by saying that he approved of “debate and discussion.” This seemed to be a little lighter than his sub-tweeting frenzy on Sunday.
As an ancillary aside, Shatner also confirmed that his scheduled Zero-G fan experience wouldn’t be happening, seemingly due to a lack of interest. Fellow Trek actor George Takei participated in a similar fan event in 2016.
Is William Shatner being openly racist and/or sexist? Maybe not. But, like his Gamergate sympathies, he is skirting the boundaries of sexism and racism by attacking social justice warriors, seemingly for no reason. And for some, that means he’s already crossed the line.
In the classic Star Trek episode “The Enemy Within,” Captain Kirk’s “good” side and “evil” side literally became two different people. And while Spock determines the real Kirk needs both sides to survive, it would be nice if that good and gentle Captain Kirk would take over William Shatner’s Twitter account, if perhaps only for a day.
This story is developing.