Wil Wheaton once coined something he called “Wheaton’s Law.” Put simply, it’s this: “Don’t be a dick.” It was part of the Star Trek: The Next Generation actor’s keynote speech at the 2007 Penny Arcade Expo. Originally intended to refer to people who behave badly in online games, its scope has since expanded to refer to all online behavior.
While Wheaton’s statement is hard to argue against, the way the “geek icon” and Internet celebrity conducts himself online is not always in keeping with that edict. Wheaton has been the subject of controversy among geeks and gamers in the years since then for speaking out against the consumer-oriented GamerGate movement.
Uninterested in any sort of discussion revolving around the heated topic, the actor simply referred to GamerGate supporters as “idiots,” “losers,” and “profoundly stupid people incapable of knowing how stupid they are” and signal-boosting opponents of the movement. He has also attacked fans of South Park, lumping them in with supporters of GamerGate—decrying their supposed lack of maturity and self-awareness. He did so in response to South Park’s 19th season, which lampooned social justice warriors.
Wheaton has a habit of blocking anyone who criticizes or disagrees with him on Twitter, and shares a public blocklist curated by “anti-bullying activist” Randi Harper. The blocklist is his pinned tweet on his public Twitter profile, and he uses it to describe everyone on it as “toxic garbage.” It should be noted Harper was a member of Crash Override Network. In the logs, Harper admitted to doxing and harassing supporters of GamerGate by releasing private information she gleaned from their Facebook accounts.
I am on his widely-shared blocklist, as are many other journalists and figures who may have at one point crossed paths with him or Randi Harper. There are currently over 16,000 people on the list, and many who use the list belong to the entertainment, gaming, and literary industries.
More recently, Wil Wheaton attacked Amy Laurent, a relationship expert and celebrity matchmaker who runs the Miss Advised TV show on Bravo. He tweeted the following after Laurent jokingly tweeted: “Heads Up For the Guys: Pretty women who are unaccompanied want you to talk to them. ;)”
You are part of the problem, Amy. https://t.co/FskAp5zHFZ
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) August 30, 2016
Anyone with half a brain cell would recognize the winky face at the end of her sentence that indicated that her statement wasn’t in any way serious, but Wil Wheaton was quick to jump to the conclusion that Laurent was encouraging public harassment. So in response, he publicly harassed her.
Wheaton’s call-out of Laurent is problematic not only because it’s an invitation to dogpile her on Twitter, it is also slut shaming. Even if she was being serious, single women who want men to approach them in public—especially in hookup venues like bars and clubs—are well within their rights to want attention from the opposite sex. And the men who speak to them shouldn’t be demonized for adhering to social norms. There’s a big difference between speaking to a single woman at a bar versus stalking a woman and attempting to gain her attention while she’s walking with headphones on.
It’s ironic that Wheaton expects his so-called “Law” to apply to everyone but himself. What happened to not being a dick, Wil?