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Man arrested for allegedly threatening Merriam-Webster over definition of woman

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A California man was arrested this week for allegedly threatening to bomb Merriam-Webster’s offices and kill its employees because of the dictionary publisher’s definitions for women, federal prosecutors said.

According to the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.

Hanson allegedly sent the company several threatening messages through its “Contact Us” section on its website and in the comments section on its web pages that matched word entries for “Girl” and “Woman.” Rachael Rollins, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said. Rollins said the threats were serious enough to force Merriam-Webster to close its Springfield and New York offices out of an abundance of caution.

“We believe Hanson sent a multitude of threatening and despicable anonymous messages related to the LGBTQ community that were intended to evoke fear and division,” she said in a statement.

Hanson reportedly used the handle “@anonYmous” to post a message on October 2 to the comments section of Merriam-Webster’s web page for the definition of the word woman stating that “Merriam-Webster is now telling blatant lies and promoting propaganda anti-science,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“There is no such thing as ‘gender identity’. The fool who wrote this entry should be hunted down and put down,” he allegedly wrote in the comments section.

Hanson also allegedly wrote a message on the “Contact Us” page stating that the company’s headquarters should be “shot down and bombed,” federal prosecutors said.

“It would be poetic justice for someone to storm your offices and shoot down the place, leaving none of you alive,” he reportedly wrote.

Hanson posted a similar message on the “Contact Us” page on Oct. 8, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The suspect allegedly sent related threats to other businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals, including 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 rabbi from New York, according to prosecutors.

“Threats to life are certainly not protected speech and they instill real fear in victims,” ​​Joseph R. Bonavolonta, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston division, said in a statement.

Information about Hanson’s attorney was not immediately available.

He was conditionally released following an appearance in California Central District Court, prosecutors said. He is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Court Trial Judge Katherine A. Robertson in federal court in Springfield on April 29, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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