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Merriam-Webster Targeted Online With Threats of Anti-LGBTQ Violence, U.S. Attorney Says

Prosecutors say a California man suggested company headquarters be ”shot up and bombed“

A California man has been arrested and charged with making anti-LGBTQ-related threats against the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster. 

Federal prosecutors say the threats were published online and included suggestions the writer of a dictionary entry “should be hunted down and shot” and that the company’s headquarters should be “shot up and bombed.”

Jeremy David Hanson, 34, of Rossmoor, California, was charged with one count of interstate communication of threats to commit violence. He was arrested Tuesday and later released on conditions after appearing in a Central California federal court.

“Hate-filled threats and intimidations have no place in our society,” U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins said in a news release. “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. 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. Perpetrators will be identified, arrested, and held accountable in federal court.”

According to a criminal complaint, the Springfield, Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster received threatening messages and remarks over six days in early October through a “Contact Us” page online and in the comments section of webpages that corresponded to the word entries for “Girl” and “Woman.” 

Authorities later identified the user as Hanson, prosecutors say. Merriam-Webster closed its offices in Springfield, Massachusetts, and New York City for about five business days as a result of the threats.

Hanson was set to appear in a Massachusetts federal court next Friday. It was unclear if he had an attorney.

“Everyone has a right to express their opinion, but repeatedly threatening to kill people, as has been alleged, takes it to a new level,” Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division, said in a statement. “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.”

Prosecutors say Hanson used the handle “@anonYmous” to post in the dictionary’s website comment section accompanying the definition of “female.” 

“It is absolutely sickening that Merriam-Webster now tells blatant lies and promotes anti-science propaganda,” one post allegedly said. “There is no such thing as ‘gender identity.’ The imbecile who wrote this entry should be hunted down and shot.”

Hanson also allegedly sent a threatening message via the website’s “Contact Us” page, saying the company 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,” the “Contact Us” message said. “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.”

The charge of interstate transmission of communications to injure the person of another carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

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