A man has been arrested for threatening to harm the staff at Merriam-Webster over LGBTQ+ inclusive definitions.
On 20 April, a California man named Jeremy David Hanson was charged with one count of “interstate communication of threats to commit violence.”
According to an official statement from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, Hanson used the dictionary website’s “Contact Us” portal to submit an array of threatening messages between 2 October and 8 October.
He also used the comment section of words like “Girl”, “Woman”, “Boy”, and “Trans Woman” to spread anti-LGBTQ+ hate.
Authorities revealed that Hanson went by the username “@nonYmous” to submit his hate-filled comments.
In one of his posts, he wrote: “It is absolutely sickening that Merriam-Webster now tells blatant lies and promotes anti-science propaganda. There is no such thing as ‘gender identity.’ The imbecile who wrote this entry should be hunted down and shot.”
In a message sent through the “Contact Us” section, he threatened to bomb and shoot up the company’s headquarters.
“It is sickening that you have caved to the cultural Marxist, anti-science tra**y [sic] agenda and altered the definition of ‘female’ as part of the Left’s efforts to corrupt and degrade the English language and deny reality,” he wrote.
“You evil Marxists should all be killed. It would be poetic justice to have someone storm your offices and shoot up the place, leaving none of you commies alive.”
Due to his violent and horrific threats, Merriam-Webster offices in Springfield, MA and New York City were closed for five business days.
After numerous messages, the business reported the account to the FBI on 2 October, resulting in Hanson’s IP address being traced.
In the aforementioned statement, United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins condemned Hanson’s dangerous messages while also giving further insight into the situation.
“Hate-filled threats and intimidations have no place in our society. We believe Hanson sent a multitude of anonymous threatening and despicable messages related to the LGBTQ community that were intended to evoke fear and division,” she said.
“My office and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate threats against members of our communities, no matter what corner of the internet they’re sent from.”
Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division, echoed similar sentiments in the affidavit.
“Everyone has a right to express their opinion, but repeatedly threatening to kill people, as has been alleged, takes it to a new level,” he said.
“We are always going to pursue individuals who try to intimidate and isolate members of our community by inciting violent, hateful acts. Threats to life are most certainly not protected speech and they cause real fear in victims.”
Hanson’s reign of terror didn’t only affect Merriam-Webster.
According to prosecutors, the 34-year-old also targeted other businesses with anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric –including Hasbro, Inc., IGN Entertainment, Amnesty International, American Civil Liberties Union and Land O’Lakes.
He also sent threatening messages to two Loyola Marymount University professors, the President of the University of North Texas and a New York City rabbi.