On July 27, Blake Shelton, country singer and coach on NBC’s The Voice tweeted that he had intentionally swerved to crush an Eastern Box Turtle, a species protected in many states. I and others had two immediate concerns: Did Shelton intentionally harm a turtle? Also, was Shelton, as a celebrity and self-proclaimed animal activist, aware of the consequences of publicly endorsing animal cruelty?
Shelton eventually indicated that his tweet was a joke, but only after outraging the herpetology community by mocking individuals who expressed concern about his behavior. Some of the people Shelton targeted included herpetologist John Taylor, Professor Barbara J. King, and myself.
So here’s where we come back to consequences. Blake Shelton has thousands of impressionable fans following him on Twitter. Eager to get Shelton’s attention, his fans started tweeting about animal cruelty, claiming either that they had committed heinous acts in the past or that they were willing to kill turtles for him. Fans didn’t just tweet these comments at Shelton, but at anyone who questioned him. I personally received hundreds of tweets threatening to harm turtles or, more disturbingly, me. To say these tweets were unsettling is an understatement; I wish I could un-see most of what I saw.
In sum, Blake Shelton’s irresponsible tweeting had downright terrifying results. This is a sampling of what his fans tweeted and, unfortunately, are still tweeting:
Blake Shelton continues to joke with his fans about Turtlegate. Considering Shelton is nominated for a Teen Choice award, I think it’s time for him to read these tweets and take responsibility for his turtle twittering.
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