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Anita Sarkeesian cancels speech in wake of threats

After an anonymous email threatens a deadly school shooting, the feminist media critic backs out of a speaking engagement at Utah State University.

Anita Sarkeesian Feminist Frequency

Feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian has cancelled a speaking engagement at Utah State University after an anonymous email threatened a massacre.

Sarkeesian's planned presentation at Utah State University's Taggart Student Center for October 15 has been cancelled after an anonymous email from someone claiming to be a student threatened "the deadliest school shooting in American history" if the speech was not cancelled, the Standard Examiner has reported.

Initially after receipt of the threat, the speech was still going to go ahead, until the university informed Sarkeesian that individuals licensed for concealed firearms would be permitted to carry weapons into the venue.

The email, which made the claim, "Feminists have ruined my life", is the latest in a string of serious threats against Sarkeesian. Last March, a bomb threat was levelled at the Game Developers Choice Awards unless the organisers revoked an award recognising Sarkeesian's work critiquing games from a feminist perspective in her Feminist Frequency video series -- not the only time bomb threats have occurred in response to her presence.

And in August, Sarkeesian left her home in fear of her life after a user on Twitter made threats against her and her family, indicating that he knew her address.

Sarkeesian is not the only one, either. Zoe Quinn, developer of Depression Quest and the centre of the GamerGate debacle, has also received threats and had her personal information leaked and left her home in response; and, earlier this month, independent developer Brianna Wu left her home after receiving threats and having her address posted online.

The email, sent to several recipients, including USU Center for Women and Gender Studies Director Ann Austin, was determined by police and the FBI cyber terrorism task force to not be a serious threat -- indeed, they did not believe the sender to be a USU student as claimed. Nevertheless, the university intended to beef up security, with added staff and banning large bags and backpacks from the event. Sarkeesian, however, cancelled after the university would not withdraw permission for concealed carry firearms from the venue.

The email, screenshotted below, made mention of the École Polytechnique Massacre. The writer called Marc Lepine, who claimed his actions were "fighting feminism" and who killed 15 people including himself, a "hero".

Screenshot via Standard Examiner