Anita Sarkeesian, listed as a “feminist speaker” and video gaming critic, was scheduled to give a speech at Utah State University this month, but the event has now been canceled. The given reason was that anonymous threats had been received promising violence if the speaker took the stage and the University was not providing sufficient security for her because they would not keep out concealed carry permit holders who brought their weapons.
Anita Sarkeesian was scheduled to give a presentation on the portrayal of women in video games on Wednesday evening. She made the decision to cancel Tuesday night.
University staff members had received a threat earlier Tuesday from an unknown person who vowed to carry out a mass shooting if the event was held. University spokesman Tim Vitale says the FBI told school officials the threat is consistent with ones Sarkeesian receives when she gives speeches elsewhere.
According to the Standard Examiner, University staffers received an anonymous email, purportedly from student at the University, threatening a “Montreal Massacre style attack” and complaining that “feminists have ruined my life and I will have my revenge, for my sake and the sake of all the others they’ve wronged.”
The controversy swirling around Sarkeesian seems to involved GamerGate. (More on that below.) But that’s really not the key piece of this story. The idea that the speaker would be in additional danger for the given reason is a fair example of precisely what’s wrong with media coverage of Second Amendment stories in general and concealed carry permits in particular.
It’s absolutely fair to demand that any anonymous threats be investigated. Even though the vast majority of such warnings turn out to be empty stunts, there are a certain number of deranged loons out there and we need to exercise caution. But if you’re at an event in a state which honors its citizens Second Amendment rights and issues properly vetted concealed carry permits, running in fear from such an event seems absurd. What Sarkeesian is supposedly afraid of – as indicated in the threatening e-mail – is a mass shooting event. But as history has shown over and over again, mass shooters rely on attacking soft targets where there will be little to no resistance to their onslaught.
Do we really believe that such a shooter is going to fare very well in a crowd peppered with people who are packing heat and ready to return fire? I’m guessing they wouldn’t get off more than a few shots. While that would still result in a very bad situation, the point is that it highly unlikely that it would happen. These maniacs may be crazy, but they do tend to think these things out and plan fairly carefully. That’s just not the type of situation which is going to represent a target of opportunity. She was probably far safer in that Utah auditorium than she would have been speaking at Berkley.
On a side note, this story apparently involves the ongoing saga of GamerGate as mentioned above. If, like me, you’ve not really been able to bring yourself to follow this tale without your eyes glazing over, there is a lengthy but readable history of it here. When I mentioned this on Twitter I was also sent a few links to a video which also provides some background. All I can say is that there’s some crazy stuff going on out there in the gaming world. (Warning: NSFW language in the video.)