Orange County man arrested for allegedly threatening Merriam-Webster over definition of woman

ROSSMOOR, Calif. — An Orange County man was arrested this week for allegedly threatening to bomb the offices of Merriam-Webster and kill its employees over the dictionary publisher’s definitions of women, federal prosecutors said.

Jeremy David Hanson, 34, of Rossmoor, was charged April 20 with one count of interstate communication of threats to commit violent acts for alleged online threats he sent to the company in October, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Massachusetts district.

Hanson allegedly sent the company several threatening messages through its “Contact Us” section on its website and in the comments section on its web pages that corresponded to the words “Girl” and “Female.” Rachael Rollins, United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said. Rollins said the threats were serious enough to force Merriam-Webster to close its Springfield and New York offices as a precaution.

“We believe that Hanson sent a multitude of threatening and despicable anonymous messages related to the LGBTQ community that were intended to cause fear and division,” he said in a statement.

Hanson allegedly used the handle “@anonYmous” to post a message on October 2 in the comments section of the Merriam-Webster website for the definition of the word woman stating that “Merriam-Webster now tells blatant lies and promotes propaganda against science”. ”, according to the federal prosecutor’s office.

“There is no such thing as ‘gender identity.’ The asshole who wrote this entry should be hunted down and shot,” he allegedly wrote in the comments section.

Hanson also allegedly wrote a message on the “Contact Us” page that said the company’s headquarters should be “shot and bombed,” federal prosecutors said.

“It would be poetic justice for someone to storm your offices and shoot the place up, leaving none of you communists alive,” he allegedly wrote.

Hanson posted a similar message on the “Contact Us” page on Oct. 8, according to the US attorney’s office.

The suspect allegedly sent related threats to other businesses, nonprofits, and individuals, including two Loyola Marymount University professors, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Land O’ Lakes, Hasbro, Inc., IGN Entertainment, the president of the University. from North Texas and a rabbi from New York City, according to prosecutors.

“Threats to life are certainly not protected speech and cause real fear in victims,” ​​said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Division, in a statement.

Information from Hanson’s attorney was not immediately available.

He was released on conditional release after a court appearance in the Central District of California, prosecutors said. He is scheduled to appear before US District Court Magistrate Judge Katherine A. Robertson in federal court in Springfield on April 29, according to the US Attorney’s office.

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