September 23, 2020

Sarkeesian talk canned after shooting email

Utah State University has cancelled a talk that was due to be delivered by Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian, after receiving an email threatening a school shooting if the talk went ahead.

Sarkeesian was due to host a talk on October 15 (tomorrow in the USA, due to time zone differences) called “Common Hour: Anita Sarkeesian,” but USU’s Center for Women and Gender Studies has confirmed that the talk has been cancelled and threats are being investigated.

“A threatening email sent to USU officials about Wednesday’s speaker Anita Sarkeesian is being investigated by police. Details to come soon,” the university posted on Twitter earlier today. Later, they tweeted, “Anita Sarkeesian has canceled her speech scheduled for tomorrow at USU. University classes and business will continue as scheduled.”

According to Sarkeesian, she cancelled the talk “because police wouldn’t take steps to prevent concealed firearms at the event.” The letter has been published by the Standard Examiner, but do be warned – it’s quite graphic.

This threat is one of many that has been sent to prominent members of the gaming community in recent days, with Brianna Wu and Steven “Boogie2988” Williams also subjected to threats and “doxxing” – the sharing of personal information without consent.

It comes amidst a heated discussion within the gaming community about #GamerGate, a hashtag campaign that, depending on who you speak to, is either trying to raise ethical standards within games journalism or focused on attacking women in the games industry. The campaign took root in response to alleged corruption in regard to the game industry’s coverage of Depression Quest, a game created by Zoe Quinn.

According to Sarkeesian, USU received multiple threats, including at least one from someone associating themselves with #GamerGate. “Multiple specific threats made stating intent to kill me & feminists at USU. For the record one threat did claim affiliation with #gamergate,” she said on Twitter. “At this point supporting #gamergate is implicitly supporting the harassment of women in the gaming industry.”

However, there are those among #GamerGate’s supporters who are denouncing these attacks, including Steven Williams, who has himself received threats. For more on #GamerGate, see this write-up by Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff.

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