Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel an appearance at Utah State University this week after an anonymous threat made to the school. Sarkeesian, known primarily for her vlogs at FeministFrequency.com and the Feminist Frequency Youtube page, describes her work as "deconstructing the stereotypes and tropes associated with women in popular culture as well as highlighting issues surrounding the targeted harassment of women in online and gaming spaces." This threat is the most recent in a series of high profile threats against Sarkeesian and other prominent feminists in gaming surrounding a scandal referred to colloquially as #GamerGate.
The FBI has gotten involved and is attempting to trace the identity of the person who made the threat. However, this has not stopped online critics from claiming Sarkeesian made the threat herself. This, however, seems unlikely if the FBI deems this worthy of investigation. According to the Washington Post:
[Utah State University spokesman Tim] Vitale said [Campus Police Captain Steve] Milne was overwhelmed Tuesday coordinating with the Logan, Utah, police force, as well as the FBI’s cyberterrorism task force and behavioral analysis unit, to track down the source of the threat and assess the probability the perpetrator would act on it.
“I’ve been here 17 years and I can’t remember anything in this realm before,” Vitale said. “We’ve never seen anything like this before. Logan, Utah, is a very bucolic valley. It’s a quiet, peaceful place to be. We’re not used to these kind of pointed and ugly threats. We don’t have our heads in the sand about violence, but this is new.”
As mentioned previously, this is not the first time Sarkeesian has had death threats made against her or against events where she is speaking. In fact, she stated via Twitter that she would not have cancelled except for Utah's lax gun laws:
Because of Utah's conceal carry law, public buildings like schools and universities cannot prohibit people from bringing in guns. They were going to search backpacks and bags, but anyone with a weapon would have been able to attend. But at least one local politician, Utah State Representative Curt Oda, feels Sarkeesian was "overreacting."
Regardless of where any of us come down on the subject of GamerGate, Sarkeesian's opinions, gun control, etc, I hope we can all agree that this is not a good thing. Death threats and mass shootings are never good, never justified. We at Big Shiny Robot hope we can all live together more pleasantly, even tolerating people we don't necessarily agree with. Let's all take a deep breath. . . and then go play some video games.