One of the topics we did not cover on this past week’s show was the arrest of Dennis Markuse (aka Dave Mabus, aka Hebert Marxune.) Authorities in Montreal arrested him, charging him with having made death threats. Authorities have finally caught up with Mabus’ antics, which he has been getting away with for just about as long as there has been an internet as we know it. We have mentioned him once or twice on The Skeptic’s Guide, but our general policy regarding Mabus was to deny him the exposure to wider audiences he so desperately sought.
For the past twenty years, Mabus taunted, insulted, and threatened scientists, atheists and skeptics with spam email and trolling behavior on forums and in blog comments. These were never constructive comments, they were always rambling, nasty runaway streams of consciousness interwoven with links to odd YouTube clips and other related inanities.
The entire history of Mabus is nicely summed up by Tim Farley and all of the excellent folks over at Skeptical Software Tools, which I highly recommend. The entire process on how this arrest unfolded is fascinating, and a testament to the power of Twitter and other internet tools.
Here is the last email received at the SGU by Mabus. I replaced his hotlinks with simply an asterisk mark, and I tightened up spacing issues that I can only imagine were for the benefit of his own dramatic effect :
Just for you, little traitors…
WHAT IS WRONG WITH HENRY?
we’re this far from nuking all of you….
the X-MAS vacuum cleaner for the atheists….
shermer, randi, myers, pz, dawkins, harris
why does everyone always want to PUNCH you, shermer?
take your meds, you little fckers…
now we are going to bury you…
And the lesson from all of this? DOUBLE!
What do you want, you little ****ers?
more of these idiots
HOW N WON ALL THE PARANORMAL PRIZES!
pz myers does not exist…
atheists, we’re gonna cut off your heads…
THE HIGH PRICE OF REVOLUTION
I suppose I should feel fortunate that this particular email was only about two pages long. Mabus has spammed individual emails that would print out to a dozen or more pages. I also in a way feel fortunate that this email was sent in January, and the SGU had not directly heard from him since. I am sure Rebecca and Steve heard from him through Skepchick or Neurologica, but they hadn’t brought it up anytime recently. Deleting Mabus’ posts and blocking his name(s) had become as regular as breathing to the people whom had to suffer hearing from him on a much more frequent basis.
I need not tell anyone that Markuze is a sick person, despite his last few tweets offering some half-assed apologies once he realized the jig was up (which, perhaps, suggests a certain level of sanity and self-control that makes one wonder just how sick he is.) As such, I hope his arrest leads to a future filled with help and recovery, including a lengthy amount of time away from computers. I would hope that part of the process on the road back to health is to indefinitely take away his weapons.
With all of that said, I must express my relief that authorities FINALLY paid some level of attention to this matter. I am pleased that so many professional scientists, science educators, and science writers are able to feel some relief. I never personally felt threatened by Mabus’ emails or postings, for I am not a scientist, educator, or professional writer. But I always knew that other prominent leaders of science, skepticism, and atheism must have been awfuly uncomfortable when/if they paid any attention to Mabus’ ramblings - ramblings which became very repetitive and easier to ignore over years of time.
Dealing with threats, both real and perceived, are part of our day to day lives. We take for granted all of the processing going on in our brains at any given moment, but it is churning away doing its work of perpetual risk assessment. One of many things that my martial arts training has taught me is that threats of all kinds are to be taken seriously (within a defined spectrum), but the only appropriate response to dealing with death threats is to have it put to an end as swiftly as possible.
Offenders such as Mabus have earned such detention by the authorities, so kudos to everyone involved in exposing and apprehending Mabus. Let’s hope that his days of threats have finally reached an un-violent end.