A California man was arrested Friday after he allegedly sent death threats to staffers at Merriam-Webster because he was enraged by the dictionary's definitions of the words "girl" and "woman."
Jeremy David Hanson, 34, of Rossmoor in Orange County was charged with one count of interstate communication of threats to commit violence, according to the Justice Department. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison.
Prosecutors say that between Oct. 2 and 8, 2021, Hanson messaged the dictionary staff through their website's "Contact Us" page and posted in the comments of the online dictionary's pages defining "girl" and "woman," threatening to bomb their offices.
“It is absolutely sickening that Merriam-Webster now tells blatant lies and promotes anti-science propaganda," he allegedly wrote under the definition of "female." "There is no such thing as ‘gender identity.’ The imbecile who wrote this entry should be hunted down and shot.”
In another message, he allegedly wrote:
“You [sic] headquarters should be shot up and bombed. It is sickening that you have caved to the cultural Marxist, anti-science tranny [sic] agenda and altered the definition of ‘female’ as part of the Left’s efforts to corrupt and degrade the English language and deny reality. You evil Marxists should all be killed. It would be poetic justice to have someone storm your offices and shoot up the place, leaving none of you commies alive.”
Dictionary staff took the threats extremely seriously, shutting their offices in New York City and Springfield, Massachusetts, for about five days.
Merriam-Webster's definitions of "female" include "of, relating to, or being the sex that typically has the capacity to bear young or produce eggs" and "having a gender identity that is the opposite of male."
Joseph R. Bonavolonta with the FBI Boston Division said Hanson's messages "crossed a line."
"We are always going to pursue individuals who try to intimidate and isolate members of our community by inciting violent, hateful acts," Bonavolonta said in a statement. "Threats to life are most certainly not protected speech and they cause real fear in victims."
Investigators also allegedly identified similar threats sent to the ACLU, Amnesty International, Hasbro, and a New York City rabbi, among others.
Court records show that Hanson was released on $25,000 bond to home detention on the condition that he make no further threatening communications.
An attorney listed for Hanson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.