The man was indicted by a federal court after threatening anti-LGBTQ+ violence towards Merriam-Webster over the publisher’s inclusive definitions. (Getty/Tim Boyle)
A man charged with making a bomb threat against Merriam-Webster over the dictionary’s definitions evolving to become more inclusive has pleaded guilty.
In May, Jeremy David Hanson, 34, was indicted on two counts of communicating threats across state lines, in which he vowed to commit violence against the dictionary’s publishers.
On Wednesday (14 September), Hanson pleaded guilty to both counts as part of a plea deal.
Like many dictionaries, Merriam-Webster updates its definitions, and around the time of Hanson’s messages it had updated its definition of woman to read: “Having a gender identity that is the opposite of male.”
According to NBC, prosecutors said that Handson’s threats became increasingly violent after he initially accused the publishers of “anti-science propaganda”.
He went on to say that “the imbecile who wrote this entry should be hunted down and shot”, that Merriam-Webster’s Massachusetts headquarters “should be shot up and bombed”, and added: “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.”
Prosecutors said that Hanson had admitting to sending anti-LGBTQ+ messages and threats to other companies, including Disney and Hasbro.
An affidavit filed by an FBI agent supporting Hanson’s arrest described him as remorseful, and during an FBI interview, his mother said that the he had learning disabilities and had suffered stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hanson is set to be sentenced on 5 January 2023, and could face up to five years in prison, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
US attorney Rachael S Rollins said in a statement: “Every member of our community has a right to live and exist authentically as themselves without fear.
“Hate motivated threats of violence that infringe upon that right are not tolerated in Massachusetts in any capacity.”