A Rossmoor man was sentenced Thursday to one year and one day in prison, along with three years of supervised release, for threatening Merriam-Webster, Inc. over its dictionary’s definition of the words “female,” “woman” and “girl,” according to federal authorities.
Jeremy David Hanson, 34, was charged in April 2022 and in September pleaded guilty to one count of interstate communication of threats to commit violence for ominous messages he sent the Springfield-based company between Oct. 2 and Oct. 8, according to the Massachusetts District Attorney’s Office.
Hanson also pleaded guilty to another count of the same offense that was initially filed in the Eastern District of Texas, due to the messages targeting the president of the University of North Texas, according to the Massachusetts DA’s Office.
“Hate has no place in Massachusetts,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “I hope today’s sentence will demonstrate to members of the LGBTQ+ community that this office will hold those who engage in threatening, hateful acts accountable.”
Prosecutors say that Hanson admitted to sending threatening communications to various corporations, politicians and others, including the Walt Disney Co., the governor of California, the mayor of New York City, a New York rabbi, and professors at Loyola Marymount University.
On Oct. 2, 2021, Hanson commented on the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s website under the definition of “female,” saying, “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.”
Using the screen name “@anonYmous,” he posted similar messages on the definitions of “girl” and “woman,” and used the website’s “Contact Us” page to say Merriam-Webster’s offices should be bombed, federal officials allege.
“I am going to shoot up and bomb your offices for lying and creating fake definitions,” one message allegedly said in part. “Boys aren’t girls, and girls aren’t boys. The only good Marxist is a dead Marxist. I will assassinate your top editor.”
In response to the threats, Merriam-Webster shut down its offices in Springfield and New York City for several days, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston.
Prosecutors said FBI investigators also found “numerous related threats,” including in an email on March 3, 2022, to the president of the University of Texas that Hanson titled: “You ought to be shot in the head and have your offices set on fire for supporting child genital mutilation and transgenderism.”
In the email, according to prosecutors, Hanson said he would personally go to the university “and start executing tyrannical leftist students and faculty who oppress conservatives.”
“Despite repeated interactions with law enforcement directing Jeremy Hanson to stop his hateful tirades threatening violence, he continued to make them,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Today’s sentence cannot undo the damage Hanson did, but it can provide some comfort in knowing that threats to life are not protected free speech but criminal acts.”