FBI arrests man for threatening Merriam-Webster over its definition of ‘girl,’ ‘female,’ and ‘woman’

FBI arrests man for threatening Merriam-Webster over its definition of ‘girl,’ ‘female,’ and ‘woman’

A California man is facing five years in prison for threatening to shoot and bomb employees of the Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster company because he objected to the reference book publisher’s definitions of the words “girl,” “female,” and “woman.” 

According to the Department of Justice, Jeremy David Hanson, 34, of Rossmoor, California, posted several threatening messages on the company website’s “Contact us” page, which resulted in the company closing its New York and Springfield offices for five business days. The messages Hanson allegedly posted were suffused with vicious anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.

From the DOJ press release:

Specifically, it is alleged that on Oct. 2, 2021, Hanson used the handle “@anonYmous” to post the following comment on the dictionary’s website definition of “female”: “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.”

Hanson also allegedly sent the following threatening message via the website’s “Contact Us” page: “You [sic] headquarters should be shot up and bombed. It is sickening that you have caved to the cultural Marxist, anti-science tranny [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. 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.”

It is further alleged that on Oct. 8, 2021, Hanson posted another threatening comment on the dictionary’s website and a threatening message via the “Contact Us” page that threatened to “bomb your offices for lying and creating fake…”.

As noted by the New York Times, the company, the oldest dictionary publisher in the U.S., has in recent years updated its definitions of certain words to “to be more inclusive of shifting attitudes around gender.”

The FBI tracked Hanson down through his IP address after Merriam-Webster reported the postings last October. In the course of its investigation, the agency found what it describes as “related” posts by Hanson directed to “the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Land O’ Lakes, Hasbro, Inc., IGN Entertainment, the President of the University of North Texas, two professors at Loyola Marymount University and a New York City rabbi.” 

As reported by Jonathan Edwards, writing for the Washington Post, Hanson was interviewed by the FBI shortly after the Merriam-Webster postings were made:

In an October 2021 interview with the FBI, Hanson said he knew threatening people was illegal, apologized for doing so and promised to stop. He told agents that he struggled to control his rage and used the Internet as an outlet.

His mother told agents that her son had become “fixated” on transgender issues and was prone to what she called “verbal hyperbole.” Hanson has been diagnosed with autism and depression, she said, and while they impair his ability to grasp the consequences of his actions, she believed he wouldn’t act on his threats “because he is reclusive, she supervises him, and he has no access to weapons.”

According to the Post, Hanson had been previously questioned by the FBI after he’d threatened in 2014 to “rape and kill multiple people.” He apparently expressed remorse at that time and made no further threats for five years. But after the Hasbro corporation announced it was removing the “Mr.” from its “Mr. Potato Head” toys, Hanson sent the following threat:

Hanson accused Hasbro of “pandering to tranny freaks” and threatened to “shoot up and bomb your headquarters,” according to the FBI. In a second message, Hanson allegedly added “only figuratively.”

In 2021 Hanson also threatened the University of Wisconsin for removing a 42-ton boulder from its campus. The boulder, placed in 1925, was colloquially referred to with a nickname that included a racial slur.

Hanson emailed a local elected official, a Black woman, about her role in removing the memorial according to the FBI. In the email, Hanson allegedly called the alderwoman the n-word repeatedly, in addition to multiple slurs used to demean women. He also told her that she deserved “to be raped and lynched for tearing out that boulder,” the FBI affidavit said.

Hanson also purportedly threatened to “shoot up and bomb” the head office of DC Comics and IGN Entertainment after it was announced that their new Superman character would identify as bisexual.

All of these threats drew visits from local police and the FBI. Apparently, Hanson’s mother’s explanation that her son “couldn’t control” his behavior satisfied the authorities until last month, when he was finally charged. According to Edwards’ reporting, Hanson’s latest threat, directed to a Wisconsin school board that he characterized as pedophiles, occurred last month. In that message, he threatened to kill the entire board and their families.

As Edwards’ report illustrates, it’s abundantly clear that Hanson would select the targets of his ire through perusing right-wing media and the internet. He has been charged with a single count of interstate communication of threats to commit violence:

The charge of interstate transmission of communications to injure the person of another provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Hanson is due to appear in federal court on April 29.

Listen to Jennifer Fernandez Ancona from Way to Win explain how Democrats must message to win on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast with Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld

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