We know that Anita Sarkeesian is definitely lying about at least some aspects of the death threats she allegedly received (if not the whole thing). This got me thinking about how other public figures and semi-public figures handle actual death threats and wondering how it compares to what Anita Sarkeesian and her supporters have said and done in response to her alleged death threats.
Penn Jillette, one of the two members of the magician duo, Penn & Teller, is an example of a public figure who has recieved death threats. He has received many death threats from Christians and others due to his outspoken atheism. Jillette has actually had to contact the police over some of the threats he has recieved, and there is no question that he has actually had to contact the police unlike with Sarkeesian. Another importance difference between Sarkeesian and Jillette is how Jillette has recieved his death threats. Unlike Sarkeesian who gets her alleged death threats via Twitter and the rest of the internet, Jillette has received death threats by postal mail. Based on that alone, Jillette has much more reason to worry about bodily harm than Sarkessian ever would. It takes much more effort to write and mail a letter than type up a tweet so Jillette has much more to worry about than Sarkeesian ever would. (This also shows that women don’t have it worse when it comes to death threats online or off line.)
Jillette’s response to the death threats he has received is very different than Sarkeesian’s behavior after she allegedly received her death threats. First, Jillette doesn’t tweet his (general) whereabouts on Twitter after receiving a death threat like Sarkeesian did. Jillette also did not use the death threats against him to attack Christians like how Sarkessian and her supporters use her alleged death threats to paint gaming as a hotbed of misogyny. Jillette has even said that such a response is intellectually, emotionally, and philosophically dishonest. Neither Jillette nor his supporters have make false accusations about Christians to cover up bad behavior on his part, like how Sarkeesian and her allies have used false accusations of misogyny to cover up corruption in video game journalism. Jillette also has not used the death threats he has received as an opportunity to line his pockets.
None of this can be used to determine whether Sarkeesian actually received any death threats. However, looking at how a public figure like Penn Jillette handles death threats shows that a public or semi-public figure typically handles death threats in a manner contrary to how Sarkeesian handled her alleged death threats. As a result there is a high likelihood that Sarkeesian’s alleged death threats are fake. It also reveals a lot about the character of Sarkessian and her supporters.