An Orange County man was arrested this week on suspicion of making anti-LGBTQ threats against Merriam-Webster Inc. and faces a federal charge in Massachusetts, authorities confirmed Friday.
Jeremy David Hanson, 34, of Rossmoor was charged with one count of interstate communication of threats to commit violence, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Massachusetts.
From Oct. 2-8, the Springfield, Mass.-based company received a number of threatening messages and comments “demonstrating bias against specific gender identities submitted through its website’s ‘Contact Us’ page and in the comments section on its webpages that corresponded to the word entries for ‘Girl’ and ‘Woman,’” according to the criminal complaint.
Authorities identified Hanson as the person who submitted the messages and comments, prosecutors said.
On Oct. 2, Hanson used the handle “@anonYmous” to post a comment on the dictionary website’s definition of “female,” prosecutors said.
The comment read: “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,” prosecutors said.
Hanson is also accused of using the website’s “Contact Us” page to send a message containing an anti-transgender slur.
In the message, he states that the company’s headquarters should be “shot up and bombed,” according to prosecutors. Hanson said the company had “caved to the cultural Marxist” agenda by altering “the definition of ‘female’ as part of the Left’s efforts to corrupt and degrade the English language and deny reality.”
He continued his message by calling the company “evil Marxists” and stating that the staff should all be killed, prosecutors said.
“It would be poetic justice to have someone storm your offices and shoot up the place, leaving none of you commies alive,” Hanson’s message stated.
Prosecutors also alleged that he posted another message Oct. 8 in which he threatened to bomb Merriam-Webster’s offices.
The company closed its Springfield and New York City offices for about five business days after receiving the threats, prosecutors said.
Hanson was arrested Tuesday and made an initial court appearance in California, prosecutors said.
He was released from custody after the appearance with several conditions, including being prohibited from contacting the victims, travel restrictions and surrendering his passport, court records show.
Hanson is scheduled to appear in federal court in Massachusetts on April 29, prosecutors said.
If convicted as charged, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine, prosecutors said.
Investigators also identified more threats they believe are related to those made against Merriam-Webster. The additional threats were made against 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.
“Individuals or entities who believe they may be victims of this crime should contact the U.S. attorney’s office at (888) 221-6023,” prosecutors said.
Hanson could not be reached for comment Friday.