It’s such a cliche, but one that really is appropriate here. You know it, about what you shouldn’t do to the messenger?
That is what a news site is. We are messengers. Sometimes, like in this space, we share our opinions. But most of the time, we are doing nothing more than messengering the news of the day to you, so that you can be informed, and have a chance to draw your own conclusions, and your own opinion.
Last month, I had the personal displeasure of sharing a story about a Tampa, Florida man named Peter Sloan. This guy had popped up on my radar before, especially since until last August, I had lived in Tampa for nearly 20 years.
If you don’t know him, he’s claimed for quite a while that he is an illegitimate son of William Shatner, the star of the original “Star Trek.” He shared some story about finding his biological mother in Canada, and having her claim that she had a one night stand with Shatner back in the 1950s, and look, there he is.
These types of stories, not anything I’ve ever really been interested in. For me, celebrities have a public life, and they should be allowed to have a private life. Something I defended Shatner on last year when some idiot radio jock looking for ratings decided to berate Shatner for missing Leonard Nimoy’s funeral. I stood up for Shatner, saying that everyone has the right to grieve in his own way, and it’s really none of our business whether someone attends a funeral or not.
Was it news that Shatner didn’t attend? Yes. But by covering that news, are we passing some sort of judgement on Shatner? Absolutely not. There was an expectation he would be there, he couldn’t make it, and that was our story. When someone started giving Shatner a hard time about it, we took an opinion piece approach (like this), and said that anyone who felt the need to tell Shatner what he should or should not do is wrong. Let the man grieve the loss of his longtime friend.
So during the occasions that Sloan would pop up in the news somewhere, we simply ignored it. However, when he filed a $170 million lawsuit in March, we simply could not ignore that.
Maybe I should’ve wrote an opinion companion piece with it at the time, I don’t know. To be honest, I didn’t want to give it any more coverage than needed, and I felt if I wrote a second piece on it, even one blasting this lawsuit, it would just give Sloan more space.
But then I realized that William Shatner blocked us on Twitter. It had been a few weeks since I had the pleasure of reading some of the great tweets that the actor puts out (and he really does all of these himself), and thought he must’ve just been busy with other things. But when I realized I couldn’t even access his tweets, I was shocked.
What had I said or done? Do I remember the last time I read tweets? What were we reporting? And then it hit me: the Sloan thing.
I can definitely understand why Shatner would want to block that news. I would, too. It’s silly, it’s terrible, and to be honest, I think this lawsuit does nothing more than harass Shatner.
Sloan says he just wants to connect with a man who doesn’t want to connect with him. But then he goes and publicly proclaims himself the son of William Shatner, even using the last name. All the while, he’s goading Shatner into suing him, because Sloan has what is probably a very delusional belief that Shatner would have to take a paternity test, and Sloan would be proven right.
When none of that worked, to the point where Shatner doesn’t even think twice about these antics, Sloan had to step up the game. And he likely hopes that this lawsuit, which he filed on his own (and not very well) will somehow force Shatner into a test that he’s not even interested in taking. That somehow the burden to prove slander and libel is now on the defendant. I’m not a lawyer, but even I can tell you — that’s not how it works.
What will likely happen is that the case will be dismissed quickly, and hopefully all of it is forgotten. And when that happens, I hope Sloan lets this go.
No one should ever be forced into a paternity test, unless they are subject to child support or some other necessary legal matter. Sloan is entering his 60s. Shatner is in his 80s. There is no need to go through any of this garbage, unless both sides are interested. One side isn’t interested, and Sloan must respect that.
I feel terrible that Shatner blocked us on Twitter, but I don’t report news so that celebrities can follow me on social media. I report news because it needs to be reported, and sometimes I’m just not going to like what I have to post. Heck, that happens a lot.
But that doesn’t negate my ethical requirement to do so, and I will do that.
I hope that Mr. Shatner understands, however, that we are not backing his claim simply because we reported on it. We reported on it, because we simply cannot ignore a $170 million lawsuit against one of the biggest stars of the franchise we cover, no matter how silly that lawsuit it.
And when it gets dismissed, you better bet we’ll be covering that, too.