Crime

Man charged with making anti-LGBTQ threats to Merriam-Webster

“Hate-filled threats and intimidations have no place in our society,” said U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins.

A 34-year-old man was charged with making anti-LGBTQ threats in federal court in Springfield this week, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney’s office.

Jeremy David Hanson of Rossmoor, California, was arrested on Wednesday. He is charged with making threats to Merriam-Webster Inc., which has offices in Springfield, according to the statement.

Merriam-Webster allegedly received multiple threats from Hanson in early October 2021, according to officials. Authorities said the threats — which commented on the dictionary’s definition of specific genders — were sent through the company’s “Contact Us” page.

According to the statement, Hanson also allegedly left comments on the website under the definition entries for “Girl” and “Woman.” 

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“It is absolutely sickening that Merriam-Webster now tells blatant lies and promotes anti-science propaganda,” Hanson allegedly wrote on Oct. 2, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. “There is no such thing as ‘gender identity.’ The imbecile who wrote this entry should be hunted down and shot.”

According to officials, Hanson also allegedly commented, “You [sic] headquarters should be shot up and bombed,” and “It would be poetic justice to have someone storm your offices and shoot up the place, leaving none of you commies alive.”

Merriam-Webster’s offices in New York and Springfield closed their offices for five business days as a result, according to the statement.

“Hate-filled threats and intimidations have no place in our society,” said U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “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.” 

The investigation also uncovered related threats made 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, according to the statement.

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Officials said Hanson could receive up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

Hanson was released on conditions and will appear in federal court in the Central District of California. He will appear in federal court in Springfield on April 29.

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