A California man is accused is making online threats against Merriam-Webster. He will appear in court on Friday. Photo: Tim Boyle (Getty Images)
A man allegedly threatened to bomb the headquarters of the Merriam-Webster dictionary and gun down employees over the reference book’s definitions of “woman,” “girl,” and “female,” which he believed were “part of the Left’s efforts to corrupt and degrade the English language.”
Federal authorities allege that between Oct. 2 and Oct. 8 of last year, Jeremy David Hanson submitted anonymous threatening messages through Merriam-Webster’s “Contact Us” page. In response to the threats, Merriam-Webster closed its offices in Springfield, Massachusetts and New York City for roughly five days.
Hanson, a 34-year-old from Rossmoor, California, is slated to appear in federal court Friday on the charge of one count of interstate communication of threats to commit violence, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if convicted. He was arrested last week and released on a $25,000 bond, BuzzFeed News reported.
In one message, Hanson reportedly said Merriam-Webster had caved to the “cultural, Marxist, anti-science tranny agenda” with its definition of “female.” Merriam-Webster defines “female” as “of, relating to, or being the sex that typically has the capacity to bear young or produce eggs” and “having a gender identity that is the opposite of male.”
“You [sic] headquarters should be shot up and bombed. It is sickening that you have caved to the cultural Marxist, anti-science tranny 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 supposedly 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.”
On Oct. 8, the California man allegedly sent another threatening message via the “Contact Us” page, in which he stated he could “bomb your offices for lying.”
Hanson allegedly didn’t limit himself to the dictionary’s “Contact Us” page, though. According to the release, he also adopted the username @anonYmous on Twitter to post hateful and threatening comments on the Merriam-Webster’s page for “female,” “girl,” and “woman.”
“It is absolutely sickening that Merriam-Webster now tells blatant lies and promotes anti-science propaganda. There is no such thing as ‘gender identity,’” Hanson wrote in his comment on the “female” page, federal authorities claim. “The imbecile who wrote this entry should be hunted down and shot.”
Upon further investigation, federal authorities say they found that Hanson had made related threats against the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Land O’ Lakes, Hasbro, Inc., and IGN Entertainment, among others.
U.S. attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement that anonymous threats against specific communities will not be tolerated, adding that perpetrators will be “identified, arrested, and held accountable in federal court.”
FBI special agent Joseph Bonavolonta, who is in charge of the agency’s Boston division, said of the accusations against Hanson, “Everyone has a right to express their opinion, but repeatedly threatening to kill people, as has been alleged, takes it to a new level. Threats to life are most certainly not protected speech and they cause real fear in victims.”