Captain KirkNew redditor William Shatner has taken to the online community, calling it out for allowing racism and bigotry.* Yesterday, Shatner posted a note saying he would like the ability to turn off private messages. In the comments below, a fellow redditor pointed out “there is a Dada aspect to this place with the absurd, weird, offensive and strange just chiming in from left field from time-to-time.”

The 81-year-old Captain James T. Kirk wasn’t buying that excuse. “I am apalled [sic] by some of the immature, horrifically racist, sexist, homophobic, ethnic… etc.. posts that are just ignored [on Reddit],” Shatner wrote in response.

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.

That comment has so far received more than 2,000 upvotes – a respectable Reddit haul by any measure. But Shatner continued arguing with redditors in the comments that followed, posting several follow-ups and addenda. There’s this:

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?

And this:

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.

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.

One redditor said Shatner is way out of touch with the site’s users, and that Reddit fights against censoring the Internet. Shatner responded:

You obviously agree with me that there are ‘SHAMEFUL COMMENTS’ on Reddit that users can downvote and hide but they are still here at the end of the day as are the accounts that make them. Do you believe that the folks who don these cyber masks to post hatred will stop making them because they get downvoted?

Seems that you don’t want an oligarchy which is a valid opinon but I don’t think the current system is working too well.

Finally, Shatner referred his fellow redditors to the community’s “rules,” which read:

  • 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?’

  • Adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life.

“So are these two points out the proverbial window because the right to freedom of speech supercedes this?” Shatner asked. “If so, then why haven’t they been removed?”

Reddit’s permissive culture has been challenged numerous times in the past, perhaps most prominently in Adrian Chen’s outing of Violentacrez, a notorious troll known for posting pervy candid photos of underaged girls to the site. In September 2011, Reddit moderators temporarily blocked a thread that asked for people to post their most controversial opinions, which quickly got out of hand.

Shatner has been a member of Reddit since January 27 and on Thursday took part in a surprise “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) hosted in the “Star Trek” subreddit. That excursion earned him nearly 3,500 upvotes and hero status among many in the Reddit community.

And by the way, how is it possible that William Shatner is already 81 years old?

* A lot of commenters took exception to me calling Reddit “famously libertarian.” I don’t want to detract from the main point of this article, or Shatner’s comments, so I’ve just removed the reference.