Anita Sarkeesian Talk at Utah State Cancelled

Citing death threats and concerns over safety, Anita Sarkeesian cancels her talk at Utah State.

"This is a warning to all staff and students at Utah State University.

On Wednesday, October the 15th, a woman named Anita Sarkeesian is going to be speaking at the Taggert Student Center...

If you do not cancel her talk, a Montreal Massacre style attack will be carried out against the attendees, as well as students and staff at the nearby Women's Center. I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs. This will be the deadliest school shooting in American history and I'm giving you a chance to stop it."

This is an excerpt from the complete email obtained by the Standard Examiner. The complete email is posted at the conclusion of this article. 

According to Utah State, a number of university personnel received a threatening email yesterday.  Yesterday Anita Sarkeesian cancelled a scheduled talk at Utah State University, where she was going to discuss the portrayal of women in video games. Gamers and fans will recognize her for her previous work on the Youtube series Tropes vs. Women as well as being a controversial figure inside the world of gaming. 

"I will write my manifesto in her spilled blood, and you will all bear witness to what feminist lies and poison have done to the men of America." - email threat

USU went on to say that they are coordinating with local state and federal law enforcement agencies to assess the threat and to find out who is responsible. Originally it seemed that Sarkeesian's talk would go on as planned because it was "determined it is similar to other threats that Sarkeesian has received in the past."

However, she decided to cancel her talk after finding out that due to Utah law the day before it was scheduled to go on, "if a person has a valid concealed firearm permit and is carrying a weapon, they are permitted to have it at the venue." 

For context, the Montreal Massacre took place at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, an engineering school affiliated with the University of Montreal in Quebec. Marc Lépine entered a classroom at the school, separating male from female students before opening fire on the female half. He then continued through the campus, shooting twenty-eight people. He ultimately killed fourteen women before shooting himself.  Lépine evidently felt that he was "fighting feminism." 

"I am a student here. You will never find me, but you may all soon know my name." - email threat

As for the deadliest school shooting in US history, that is perhaps up for debate. It could be when 32 people were killed at Virginia Tech, which is certainly a lot of people. A spiritual worst, however, would be Sandy Hook which resulted in the deaths of 20 young children and six adults. 

While this attack has not been linked directly to the GamerGate movement, a comparison comes to mind. Elliot Rodgers, who murdered thirteen people over sexual rejection, may not have defined the pick up artist and MRA communities. These communities might not accept what he had done. But he was encouraged by the negative attitudes expressed by those communities. He felt emboldened and empowered by their rage and disrespect.

Similarly, the potential Utah State school shooter may not represent GamerGate, but he seems to have been emboldened by their reactions and their treatment of women in the gaming community. He is ultimately to blame for his actions. He and Rodgers are not, as we would say colloquially in the South, "good people." But we must acknowledge: they do not exist in a vacuum.

The full text of the email, as obtained by the Standard Examiner

Published Oct. 15th 2014
View Comments
  • chris_2933
    A couple points:
    The event was directed towards a female audience meaning the speakers efforts under a guise of safety would have effected women.
    The speaker wanted members of the audience physically searched prior to allowing their attendance regardless of being armed or not.
    The university and subsequently security people and law enforcement refused to act intrusively towards the attendants despite the speakers requests.
    The threat was so similar to others it was considered as probable as others that never occurred and likely to have been written by the same person.
    The wording and structure of the threat indicated it was most probable to have been written by somebody(s) from outside the U.S. and likely a female.

    The speaker wanted to have women disarmed(severely degrade in their ability to defend themselves), searched(personal space violated), by and with force the speaker supposed was at her disposal. Part of the speakers event was to focus on the stereotype of the 'damsel in distress' being a negative factor in western civilization. Another part of the speakers event was to focus on the apparent objectification of women.

    The speakers hypocrisy says more about the speaker herself than feminism.

    I personally, as a man, feel comfortable that women are armed and confident their resolve will be true and of good virtue. I live not far from USU, I have a general sense of the atmosphere of the area as it pertains to women being armed on campus. I hope to never see the day women are convinced, under a banner or color of equality or feminism, that they should reject adequate means to defend themselves, their families and loved ones. I also hope to never see the day when women agree to blind, senseless intrusions against themselves and others.

    Hopefully, people will remember that many dynamic figures in history have done harm with the intent to dominate by first convincing people it was to benefit them.
  • Amanda Wallace
    Former Staff Editor
    I'm fascinated and unnerved by your ability to obfuscate and misinterpret the situation into one where "Anita doesn't want women armed because she wants them victimized."

    I'm sure this make perfect sense to you. I'm curious if you would feel the same way, if a speaker for African American rights was threatened by the KKK and chose to not speak in a unprotected place? I do not fault her decision when, presented with Utah state law, she realized she would be potentially be standing in front of people trying to kill her and instead decided to cancel the talk.

    I hope you don't think that you're an ally to women simply because you are doing harm with the intent to dominate by first convincing people that your arguments are a benefit to them.
  • Android_4594
    You're wrong, Jack Thompson is a more extreme activist and has lost favor with the courts. It has nothing to do with whether he's male or female, his own negative actions gave him bad publicity. However, in the beginning he seemed reasonable that seems to have changed over time.
  • topher339
    I had never even heard of Lepine. He either did research or spent time out of the US. Regardless, he's obviously got some issues. I wonder how his mental health is. No normal person would see this a good way to oppose a movement.
  • Amanda Wallace
    Former Staff Editor
    It's possible he cares very deeply about anti-feminist causes, and that's why he knows the Lepine name. We'll know more when (or if) the letter writer is ever caught.
  • Konfess.
    Since there was no violence associated with this threat, is it possible the perpetrator was someone out to manipulate the situation for their own cause? As long as we are focused on a guy, she may never be caught. Psychology 101 tells us men use violence to solve conflict, women use words to attack. Sorry but to me this reads like a “Mean Girls” ploy.

    You know who else is informed on every misogynistic slaughter? I would be deeply regretful if violence did result from this. But that is the power of words.
  • Amanda Wallace
    Former Staff Editor
    A threat is an act of violence, IMHO. I'd also like to hear some facts and figures to back up your idea that men solve conflict with violence while women use words. I've been attacked several times in my life, and they were all women.

    I'm not necessarily saying that the person who wrote the email was male, but it would not be an over-generalization to say that the people who are most irate with Sarkeesian are men.
  • Capt. Eliza Creststeel
    This Marc Lepine is being held up by this person as some kind of hero? Does this mean that the emailer might be Canadian?

    Most Americans have no clue about this incident.

    Or did the guy search 'misogynist slaughters' in Google?
  • Amanda Wallace
    Former Staff Editor
    I'm not sure. I don't think they've found the person responsible yet. When (or if) they do, I'm sure we'll know more information.
  • Bob Nat
    Good reporting Amanda.
  • Amanda Wallace
    Former Staff Editor
    Thank you.
  • Heiny Reimes
    Always wondering why no one bothered when Jack Thompson went through the same stuff. Sexual herassment, threats etc.

    But since he was a man... Ah who cares ;).
  • Brian S
    Featured Correspondent
    Waiting for, "Not all GamerGate" to be repeated.

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