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Feminist cancels USU talk after guns allowed despite death threat

First Published      Last Updated Oct 18 2014 08:47 pm

Anita Sarkeesian has shown up for speaking engagements amidst terror threats before.

But after learning that Utah State University was legally forbidden from restricting firearms at a Wednesday lecture over which she received a death threat, the nationally-known feminist writer and video game critic canceled her appearance.

"Sarkeesian asked if weapons will be permitted at the speaking venue," according to a statement released late Tuesday by USU. "Sarkeesian was informed that, in accordance with the State of Utah law regarding the carrying of firearms, if a person has a valid concealed firearm permit and is carrying a weapon, they are permitted to have it at the venue."

Sarkeesian confirmed, via Tweet: "Forced to cancel my talk at USU after receiving death threats because police wouldn't take steps to prevent concealed firearms at the event."

A 2004 law prohibits Utah's universities from enacting policy that "in any way inhibits or restricts the possession or use of firearms."

An email to Utah State University threatened "the deadliest school shooting in American history" if the school did not cancel a lecture Wednesday morning by a well-known feminist writer and video game critic.

"Feminists have ruined my life, and I will have my revenge, for my sake and the sake of all others they've wronged," read the message from a sender who claimed to be a USU student.

The message threatened to rain gunfire and shrapnel upon a lecture by Sarkeesian, who created a feminist video blog and a video series on misogyny in video games. She was scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m. at the Taggart Student Center Auditorium.

"A Montreal Massacre style attack will be carried out," warned the message, sent to multiple departments and individuals around campus. "I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs."

After consulting with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, the university decided to host Sarkeesian's lecture as scheduled, said USU spokesman Tim Vitale. The university planned to increase security for the lecture and forbid backpacks in the auditorium.

However, they wouldn't forbid guns.

"Requested pat downs or metal detectors after mass shooting threat but because of Utah's open carry laws, police wouldn't do firearm searches," Sarkeesian tweeted from the account @femfreq.

The writer of the letter goes by the moniker "Marc Lepine," after a shooter who murdered 14 women at a Montreal engineering school in 1989. Lepine, like the writer of the threat to USU, wrote in his suicide note that feminists had ruined his life.

The writer of this week's threat also complained that "we live in a nation of emasculated cowards too afraid to challenge the vile, misandrist harpies who seek to destroy them. Feminism has taken over every facet of our society, and women like Sarkeesian want to punish us for even fantasizing about being men."

He wrote that increased security was futile.

"Even if they're able to stop me, there are plenty of feminists on campus who won't be able to defend themselves," he wrote. "One way or another, I'm going to make sure they die."

Sarkeesian is most famous for her critiques of how women are depicted in video games and popular culture and has received many death threats and terror threats against her speaking engagements. The most serious threats began when a 2012 online harassment campaign targeted her fundraising for the video series, "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games," which examines female stereotypes in the games.

Attacks on Sarkeesian and other women in the gaming industry have escalated along with a controversy that has become casually known as "#gamergate" on social media — but the associated threats have been anything but casual. Law enforcement agencies have opened investigations in multiple states after a dispute over the ethics of a female game designer's relationship with a gaming journalist exploded into a flurry of rape and death threats.

"Today marks the 3rd time I've gone on stage after specific death and bomb threats where issued to an event where I'm scheduled to speak," Sarkeesian tweeted on Saturday, when she spoke at Geek Girl Con in Seattle. A bomb threat also was made at the Game Developers Choice Awards in San Francisco, where Sarkeesian received an award in March. In August, after the release of a new video, Sarkeesian tweeted that her family had been threatened and she was staying with a friend.

The threat sent to USU was particularly graphic.

"Anita Sarkeesian is everything wrong with the feminist woman, and she is going to die screaming like the craven little whore that she is if you let her come to USU," the email states. "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."



 

 

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