I am intellectually, but not viscerally, worried about Dennis Markuze. He does not scare me in the way that scary things do, I have no limbic reaction to him, and never did. Except once, and I’ll tell you about that below.
Dennis Markuze is a wanna-be terrorist* who targets scientists, atheists, skeptics, and kin. PZ Myers is one of his prime targets, but not his only one. I get a piece of hate male from him about every day, and he tries to post a threatening or obnoxious comment on every single blog post that I write. PZ gets it much worse than I do, and you can read about that here.
Lousy Canuck is a Canadian, so I assume he Knows Markuze (all Canadians know each other, correct?) and he’s written a blog post about Markuzi here. Markuze uses an alias, “Dave Mabus” though he will also use various handles and signatures such as “dmabus” in order to get past spam filters.
Those of us who engage in debates with right wing Christian organizations or individuals get these sorts of threats very often. Back in the pre-blog days, when Compuserve and AOL were the way you could communicate with large numbers of people wired into an incipient Internet, there was a guy who know how to make rubber stamps, and he’s make little threatening rubber stamp images and put them on post cards and mail them to us evolutionary scientists. In those days, we had the UniBomber who was blowing up mainly mathematicians. And those of us at Universities in those days were encouraged by our administrators to turn over any information about threats, just for the record.
One day something strange happened at the Harvard Anthropology department. Amidst a contentious search for a person to replace Gordon Willey as the Bowditch Chair of Mayan Archaeology And Stuff, a group of us … a strange group that made no sense whatesoever … got nice little stationary note cards in the mail, with a Florida postal stamp, and the words “Beware the Bitch behind the Bowditch” printed on them using something other than handwriting (can’t give out the details, they may be important clues!). I dutifully put mine in a plastic evidence bag and turned it over to the department administrators. Others scornfully threw them out or joked about how silly it was to worry, or otherwise acted rather dumbly. The thing is, you should not worry about things like this because that is what the people who send threats like this want you to do, and giving them the satisfaction is also giving them the encouragement they thrive on. But you should not toss out or erase the evidence either. You should just dutifully put the item in the plastic bag and hand onto it, or in the case of emails, you should have an email directory or folder into which you put this trash, but don’t put it in the trash.
I don’t follow my own advice: I routinely delete Markuze’s blog comments, but now and then I let one through (after removing the links) so that they are visible to the public, so that people know about him. But emails from Global Warming Denialists who threaten to shoot me or from people like Markuze go into a special little folder where they (whoever “they” are) can later look to see what happened after the senseless massacre or whatever.
Because you see, that can happen. Anyone (I suppose) could have a psychotic break and start killing people. Someone like Markuze could do this as well, and if he did, his targets would likely be those of us he has harassed. It is highly unlikely to happen, but let me ask you this: What piece of information would suddenly make you go from not worrying about Markuze beyond handling his missives in a non-reactionary but professional way, to worrying about him for real, viscerally? Here I’ll tell you about that one moment of real concern I experienced, last July.
There was a convention here in town for lots of different sorts of people including skeptics. Checking my email at home between visits to the convention, I got a note from someone mentioning that Dave Mabus was at the convention. Quickly looking into it, I saw a copy of a tweet from someone saying “Dave Mabus is at the CON, her’s a picture” but I could not see the picture.
Yes, that made me worry. I do not really worry about Dennis Markuze while he is sitting at home at his mommy’s house in Montreal writing PZ Myers and me and many others inarticulate threatening stupid emails. But when he crosses an international border and shows up at a convention where the total number of actual “professional” skeptics among 6,000 guests is small enough that we can fit around a couple of large tables for dinner, that’s different. That’s call-the-cops and tell them time.
It turns out that the tweet was a poorly conceived joke. The photo that I could not see was a person wearing a Mad Magazine spy costume. (The convention was a science fiction and fantasy affair so lots of people were wearing costumes.) It was a joke. Sort of funny, but only a little funny.
My understanding is that the authorities have remained mostly uninterested in Dave Mabus. A US citizen threatened by a Canadian reports the threat to the US FBI, not the RCMP. I’ve done that, as have others. I’ve never had an acknowledgment from the FBI or anyone else. I’m sure they don’t consider Mabus much of a threat, and I tend to agree with that. But still…
For the record, and because the Internet seems to be talking about Markuze right now and this may do so me good, here are links to a handful of other items on this guy:
- Dennis Markuze -aka Dave Mabus: Internet Troll and Nutcase
- Who the hell is David Mabus?
- Have you been harassed by Dave Mabus aka Dennis Markuze – sign the petition and get him caught!
- Did Dave Mabus threaten to kill atheists visiting Montreal for the AAI-HC 2010 Convention?
- Dave Mabus in my Email Box
- Dennis Markuze, DM, Dave Mabus
- comments on SFN
- An Open Letter to Dave Mabus
- When David Mabus Is Your Biggest Fan (aka Nostradamus Sets My Goats On Fire)
*Notice that I said wannabe. I’m not into labeling everyone and everything I don’t like “teh terrorist.”