Anita Sarkeesian Talk at Utah State Cancelled

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

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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


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Amanda Wallace
Former rugby player, social media person, and occasional writer.