Allowed in spite of the threats

Anita Sarkeesian explained to the Salt Lake Tribune what she has already explained to everyone else: that she decided not to give the talk at Utah State not because of the threats but because the response was inadequate.

In a phone interview from San Francisco, Anita Sarkeesian said she canceled Wednesday’s lecture not because of three death threats — one of which promised “the deadliest school shooting in American history” — but because firearms would be allowed in spite of the threats.

“That was it for me,” said Sarkeesian, who has kept multiple speaking engagements in the face of death threats, including one last week at Geek Girl Con in Seattle. “If they allowed weapons into the auditorium, that was too big a risk.”

She also pledged never to speak at a Utah school until firearms are prohibited on Utah’s campuses and called for other lecturers to join her in boycotting the state.

If Utah is safe only for uncontroversial speakers, then what good is that? Especially considering how very “controversial” women’s rights still are.

After the mass shooting threat was sent to the school late Monday, a second threat arrived Tuesday. That one, USU spokesman Tim Vitale confirmed, claimed affiliation with the controversial and sometimes violent online video gamers’ movement known as GamerGate. Initially purported to be a dispute over the ethics of a female game designer’s relationship with a gaming journalist, GamerGate exploded into a flurry of rape and death threats against feminists in the games industry. The hashtag #GamerGate evolved to identify not a controversy, but a loose group of gamers claiming a variety of objectives, from improving the image of gamers to policing games journalism to killing feminists who call for less abusive representations of women in video games. Escalating threats over the past two months have driven multiple female game developers and critics from their homes.

So all that makes the timing of this tweet very…unsavory.

Respect & much love to gamers for standing up to SJW bullies. You’ve been kind yet fierce, and you’ve set an important precedent

Late Wednesday evening, long after the threats against Sarkeesian and the connection with GamerGate were being reported all over the place.

I don’t know of a single “SJW” who has sent death threats to anyone.

Back to the Salt Lake Tribune.

USU police consulted with the FBI’s cyberterrorism task force and behavioral analysis unit and determined that the threats against Sarkeesian would not prevent a safe lecture, even with firearms allowed.

“Given that she had received many of the same sorts of threats and none of the threats had materialized into anything specific, that was part of the context of the investigation,” Vitale said. “That led us to believe that the threat was not imminent or real.”

Good thinking. By the same token, if you jump off a tall building, you pass the 90th floor, then the 80th, then the 70th, and you’re still whole, so it will be the same all the way down.

Sarkeesian said the threats were specific, with one claiming, “I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs.”

“It’s unacceptable that the school is unable or unwilling to screen for firearms at a lecture on their campus, especially when a specific terrorist threat had been made against the speaker,” she said.

USU always has allowed guns at campus events, including speeches by U.S. Supreme Court JusticeAntonin Scalia in 2008 and actor and activist Danny Glover, whose commencement address in 2010 was targeted by hate mail but nothing rising to the level of a death threat, Vitale said.

Thus they felt completely justified in shrugging off death threats. Oh well, nobody was threatening to shoot them, so I guess that makes sense.



  1. A Masked Avenger says

    Shit. It sounds more and more like what I started fearing a day or two ago: they simply aren’t taking the threat seriously.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    It’s unacceptable that the school is unable or unwilling to screen for firearms

    They’re not “unable”. They may, possibly, be “unwilling”, but that’s irrelevant. Regardless of their ability or willingness, they are legally prevented from screening for firearms. Yay the rule of law. /sarcasm

  3. says

    Thought experiment: imagine a similar death threat came from a source identifying itself as islamist and willing to attack a speaker in the name of jihad.
    Would they have had any trouble screening for weaponry? Screening for people who “look” muslim, as Sam Harris would suggest?

  4. Dunc says

    … a variety of objectives, from improving the image of gamers…

    Well done chaps, mission accomplished!

    [Warning – this comment may contain traces of sarcasm.]

  5. mwalters says

    Seems like they’re basically saying, “Well no one’s murdered her yet, so we don’t see any reason to take the death threats seriously.”

  6. johnthedrunkard says

    And after Eliot Rodger, not to mention Montreal, are the FBI or Utah police actively searching for this terrorist? The threats are already criminal, and certainly self-proclaimed bomb-making isn’t just ‘boys will be boys.’

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