Jeremy David Hanson started typing, enraged that Merriam-Webster had changed its definition of the word “girl,” according to the FBI.
The Massachusetts-based publisher closed its offices for a week as a result.
Hanson, 34, was arrested last week and charged with threatening to injure someone using interstate communication. Authorities have accused him of sending “despicable” anti-LGBTQ threats for years to organizations across the country, including Disney, Land O’Lakes, Hasbro and DC Comics, all to “evoke fear and division,” according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts.
He faces up to five years in federal prison if convicted.
Federal court records don’t list an attorney for Hanson, and he did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post early Monday. When a reporter called a phone number listed for his mother, whom he lives with, the woman who answered hung up. A follow-up call went to voice mail.
Hanson’s threats keyed on several of the lightning rods that have divided Americans over the past few years in the most recent iteration of the culture wars, including sexuality, gender, and race-related monuments, mascots and logos.
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.”
The threats date to at least 2014, and the FBI questioned him as early as 2015 after he allegedly threatened to rape and kill multiple people. During that first interview, Hanson was remorseful and promised not to make any more threats, according to court records.
For years, he kept that promise. The FBI listed no harassment by Hanson between 2015 and 2020.
Then, in April 2020, prosecutors say he replied to an Instagram post by the American Civil Liberties Union — “a shameless partisan hack that hates freedom, hates America,” according to the message Hanson allegedly sent — as the civil rights organization fought a legal battle in Missouri over absentee ballots.
On Feb. 25, 2021, Hanson allegedly sent a message to Hasbro hours after the toy company announced it was dropping “Mr.” from its Mr. Potato Head doll. “Hasbro is making sure all feel welcome in the Potato Head world by officially dropping the Mr. from the Mr. Potato Head brand name and logo to promote gender equality and inclusion,” the company said at the time, although it later removed that language from its website.
Hanson accused Hasbro of “pandering to t—-y freaks,” using a derogatory term for transgender people, and threatened to “shoot up and bomb your headquarters,” according to the FBI. In a second message, Hanson allegedly added “only figuratively.”
About two weeks later, FBI agents interviewed him about the Hasbro threats. He told agents he struggled to control himself when he got angry and used the Internet to unleash his rage, court records state. But, he told agents, he never intended to act on his threats.
During the interview, Hanson’s mother said her son had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. While he’d been prescribed several psychiatric medications, she said getting him to take them was difficult since he thought he was fine, court records state.
The FBI agents left Hanson and his mother with an understanding, according to court documents.
“He understood there was a difference between expressing himself and threatening someone, he agreed he would have to find a different outlet for his feelings when he got angry about something he saw in the news, and he expressed remorse that law enforcement had to get involved,” an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit.
In August, however, Hanson allegedly learned that the University of Wisconsin was removing a 42-ton boulder that, when first installed in 1925, was referred to by a nickname that included the n-word.
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.
“Insane Marxists like you are destroying America,” he allegedly wrote.
Again, law enforcement used Hanson’s trail of online breadcrumbs to trace the message back to his home, according to the FBI. When police in Madison, Wis., contacted his mother, she told them of her son’s mental health problems and said she remembered him being upset about the monument, court records state.
Hanson declined to talk with police, the records add.
In October, he allegedly sent messages to IGN Entertainment and DC Comics after the companies announced that the new Superman was bisexual. He threatened to “shoot up and bomb your headquarters for discriminating against conservatives and silencing conservative speech,” using anti-gay slurs repeatedly in the eight messages he sent, according to the FBI.
Again, agents interviewed Hanson and his mother at their home. He told them he knows making online threats is illegal but can’t control himself, according to court records. While his mother serves as “a filter or sounding board” during the day, he allegedly told agents, he can’t vent to her once she goes to bed, which is when he takes to the Internet.
So he kept sending threats, according to the FBI — to professors at Loyola Marymount University in January, to Amnesty International USA in February and to the University of North Texas in March. Also in March, he allegedly messaged Disney “for promoting transgender child abuse.”
Finally, at the end of last month, Hanson allegedly used the email address Death2Marxists@gmail.com to send a message to a Wisconsin school board because of its district’s “inclusive LGBTQ policies.”
“It’s now time to declare war on you pedos,” he allegedly wrote. “I am going to kill you and your entire family.”