Man who threatened to ‘bomb’ Merriam-Webster over trans-inclusive definitions sentenced to a year in prison

A picture of Merriam-Webster dictionary on a shelf

The man who threatened to bomb and shoot people at Merriam-Webster over the dictionary publisher’s trans-inclusive language has been sentenced to a year in prison by a federal court. 

Jeremy David Hanson, 34, was sentenced on Friday (14 April) to one year and one day in prison as well as three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to two counts of interstate communication of threatening communications to commit violence.

But his attorney said that he could only serve a couple of months in prison because of time already served and other credits. 

In October 2021, Hanson sent threatening messages through the contact form on Merriam-Webster’s website over the dictionary publisher’s trans-inclusive definitions of the words “girl” and “woman”.

He threatened to “shoot up and bomb” Merriam-Webster’s offices for “lying and creating fake definitions” to “pander to the t****y mafia”. 

Hanson alarmingly wrote that Merriam-Webster workers should be “hunted down and shot” over the definitions. 

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His threats resulted in Merriam-Webster temporarily closing its offices in Springfield, Massachusetts and New York City to protect staff. 

Hanson was indicted in April 2022 and pleaded guilty in September to one count of interstate communication of threatening communications to commit violence against Merriam-Webster employees. 

Prosecutors and law enforcement said Hanson’s threats against Merriam-Webster and others were fuelled by anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-trans bias. 

In a statement, US attorney Rachael S Rollins said she hopes Hanson’s sentence will demonstrate to the LGBTQ+ people that “this office will hold those who engage in threatening, hateful acts accountable”.

“Mr Hanson made numerous, anonymous hate-fueled threats of violence to intimidate and instil fear,” Rollins said. “Hateful and bigoted acts, even if only spoken like those committed by Mr Hanson, terrorise communities and are destructive to our society.”

Hanson’s attorney, Marissa Elkins, said that with time already served and other credits, he could serve about four additional months in prison, NBC News reported.

She said Hanson has significant mental health issues and that the conditions after he’s released should ensure he has the “treatment and resources he needs to never engage in this conduct again”.

Hanson also pleaded guilty to another charge of interstate communication of threatening communications to commit violence. 

The charge related to an email he sent to the University of North Texas president in March 2022 in which he threatened to “start executing” university students and staff for supporting the trans community.

As part of his plea deal, Hanson also admitted to sending threats to Walt Disney Co, the governor of California, New York City’s mayor, a New York rabbi, professors at Loyola Marymount University and others.