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Demand that Montreal Police take death threats against atheists seriously

If you read atheist blogs, you probably know Dennis Markuze. Possibly under another name, since he shifts around a lot – David Mabus, DM, Nostradamus. And if not, here’s a brief introduction:

For several years Dennis Markuze has harassed and threatened scientists, writers, public figures, atheists, and their friends under the pseudonym “David Mabus”. While this was previously a minor annoyance, the intensity and frequency of his contact have increased.

“Mabus” attacks now include hundreds of Twitter accounts (used and discarded as they are reported). He has threatened young boys and girls as well as adults (including Rys Morgan, 16, who was acknowledged by some in the science community for exposing a dangerous quack medical treatment). In fact, anyone who associates with scientifically and skeptically minded people like PZ Myers, Phil Plait, James Randi, Brian Dunning or Michael Shermer is likely to become a target for unsettling rants and threats to their life and well-being.

Markuze has even gone so far as to attend meetings of such people, including attending the American Atheist Convention in October 2010, held Montreal.

You don’t see him around here that much because I’ve tightened up my comment moderation quite a bit, and probably banned every IP address in Montreal in the process. But I get at least one crazed email and multiple tweets from him every day, usually containing a variety of threats – punching us, shooting us, nuking us, chopping off our heads, references to krystallnacht.

This has become a common occurrence for any bloggers, scientists, or activists who are associated with atheism. But I’ve also received personalized threats, such as “feel safe, jen?” and “jen we are going to exterminate you, cunt.”



And despite multiple people making multiple reports to the police over years and years, the Montreal Police do nothing.



How much longer are the Montreal Police going to sit on their hands? Until Dennis Markuze finally snaps and hurts someone? If these were religious leaders receiving constant death threats, you can be sure it would have been taken care of instantly. But when atheists are on the receiving end, they twiddle their thumbs.



I don’t necessarily think this man needs to be thrown behind bars – but he has a history of mental illness and has become more and more threatening and persistent, and something needs to be done before he follows through with his threats. I especially fear for atheists he targets that live near Montreal – and I certainly will not feel safe ever visiting that city until the police take some action.



Please sign the petition for the Montreal Police to take death threats made against atheists seriously.

And if you’re from Montreal…a tip to your local newspaper probably wouldn’t hurt.

Comments

  1. Amyaltmontreal says

    I’m a US expat living in Montreal for the last seven years. The Mtl police are USELESS.Useless except for giving traffic tickets, profiling  black drivers and shooting minorities/the mentally ill. They also have no use for anglophones- you might as well forget you have a police force if you speak English. The govt & its services are exceptionally backward here, full of corruption, bloated, you name it. They take no action in advance against anything, only whitewash their mishandled after-effects.I’ll try a letter to The Gazette, we shall see. We’re apparently too busy worrying about crumbling highways & collapsing overpasses right now.

  2. says

    With a record like that, you’d think Markuze would have already been taken care of…For the record, I filed a complaint with my local RCMP detatchment last time he told me my head should be struck from my shoulders. Nothing happened.

  3. says

    I had heard of Mabus for a while, but since he doesn’t target me I hadn’t actually seen what he had written. I did not realize that he was making violent threats like that until just very recently. It’s really appalling that you (plural, referring to everyone he has harassed or threatened) have to actually make a petition to get the police to do anything. Hopefully they will finally do something (helpful).

  4. theonlykc says

    I’m a Montrealer, and I can confirm you that Montreal police are useless. We can try to tweet them directly: @SPVM, and send this article to a few local media: @ctvmontreal, @mtlgazette, @cbcmontreal, @tvanouvelles (french), @canoenouvelles (french), @cyberpresse (french)

  5. says

    Signed,  and I second the suggestion to go directly to the RCMP.  Yes,  Montreal police are fecking useless.  You need to have a dead body deposited directly on their front steps before they will do much for an Anglo.

  6. says

    Freakin’ signed. It took one single tweet to PZ Myers to get me on his little “list”.I hold no malice toward the mentally ill, but at the very least he needs to be evaluated to ensure he doesn’t pose a genuine threat to life and limb.

  7. Ericka Johnson says

    When writing to the Gazette, be sure to include specific quotes from this guy and reference links.  Make finding the info as easy as possible for the reporters.

  8. Eric O says

    Signed.I’m not a blogger and four provinces stand between Mabus and myself, so I’ve never been personally threatened and I wouldn’t feel threatened if I were.  Still, I don’t think it’s a good idea to assume that Markuze is just a harmless nut.  I hope that he is, but I’m reminded of a rather chilling story that PZ linked to a while back:http://www.chicagomag.com/core…The moral of the story being that one should take obsessive lunatics seriously.It’s also irritating as hell that the Montreal police are ignoring this.  I’m no legal expert, but I’m pretty sure that spamming people with death threats is an indictable offense.

  9. says

    I’ve only been Mabussed once, when I was tweeting the #QEDcon in the UK. I didn’t get threatened though, just a link to some outlandish rubbish about how corn fields proved god.Hope he gets help before he does hurt someone.

  10. GrahamMartin_Royle says

    It seems that his new moniker is Dmanuz (flagged comment just now). What a sad little man. Petition signed.

  11. kimmbot says

    That. Precisely what I was coming here to say. Man, do I ever have some stories about the MTL PD sitting on their hands. I’d love to think that the RCMP would be of better assistance but apparently not…

  12. Skennedy says

    I assumed she approved that intentionally, since it will be easier to reveal his assholishness if you don’t block everything.

  13. theonlykc says

    I just sent a tweet to the Montreal police department, and they are saying to stop sending them emails about it and they are investigating.

  14. Ania Advice says

    Signed. Also, I am from Ottawa and I contacted the local citizen. I put the news room editor in contact with your and PZ’s blogs to get more details. He said he is going to see if there is a way to make the story relevant to the Ottawa citizen, but if not, he has contacts at the Montreal papers and will fill them in on the story. I made it sound like a hate crime (which is is) and Police inactivity (which it is) which from my experience of reporters, they like quite a bit. I am also going to contact some people I know at the CBC newsroom, see if we can get anyone there.

  15. Ania Advice says

    CBC Radio and CBC TV News has been contacted. The newsroom sounded interested but are sending the information off to the right people in Montreal.

  16. crb says

    I would suggest to the U.S. crowd to also contact your federal law enforcement (F.B.I.?) that would handle such threats as “international threats” may prompt a response from American law enforcement to contact RCMP in Canada to investigate. At the very least he will likely never be able to travel to the U.S. as he may get put on a watch list at the border. Your customs officials are tough enough as it is!

  17. Gregory_T says

    Hmm, and he even found his way into this thread. I’m just curious, does this man have a job? I clicked his link and man, talk about bizarre.  Another blogger called it it “Thought salad”, which seems to be about the best way of describing it. Its mostly incoherent and completely void of any real sense. The spam he posted on this very post here almost looked like a joke as it just had random youtube videos and a few random things like “Die Atheists, Die!” and “atheists, we’re gonna cut off your heads…”You can check it out here, I could try and explain it but I can’t do it justice.http://www.ottawaskeptics.org/…I link it because for those of us unfamiliar with this loon, it gives a pretty good insight into someone who has issues and why we should be signing this petition. Just reading complaints about this guy doesn’t quite explain the gravity of his bizzareness.  I’m a hard sell generally but this dude seems to be escalating his insanity after some google searches. 

  18. Gregory_T says

    I think PZ said he had an FBI agent contact him but it always fizzles out when it moves to Montreal

  19. says

    Signed. When I had a blog, that guy got on mine and was constantly being ridiculous. And my blog was little and completely unknown.

  20. Libbie Grant says

    Internet petitions are great for raising awareness among citizens, but they won’t get the job done.  People who have bee threatened by this man need to take their evidence to the RCMP…repeatedly, and en masse, until the RCMP does something about it.  Clearly the Montreal police will do nothing.  I am not aware of whether the FBI can get involved as well, but alerting them to the situation (if they have not already been alerted) may help spur the RCMP on.  The threats have been made against American citizens as well as Canadians, so the FBI would at least have some interest.Signing internet petitions isn’t enough.  Take real action if he has threatened you.  Contact authorities and don’t stop contacting them.

  21. says

    Everything you said has already been done repeatedly by dozens of people for years and years. PZ has been harassed by him since *1993.* The FBI and RCMP continue to do nothing. Only the public speaking up and trying to get the media involved will be effective now.

  22. Redskyonmars says

    The sheer volume of his posts just boggles the mind.  I see people blaming him all the time for rambling, incoherent, vehement posts.  I always wonder how bloggers know it’s him.  I know he’s got a recognizable style, but the anonymous nature of the web makes me question if all these posts attributed to him are actually his.  I could see how he might have become a sort of bogeyman to explain any hate-filled, nonsensical post on any atheist blog.Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying this _is_ the case, I’m just questioning to what degree you and others are certain it’s him.  For example, the Dmanuz post above sounds somewhat like the posts attributed to him in the jref forums, but is less addlebrained.  I could easily see it being a troll in Mabus’ clothing.

  23. Redskyonmars says

    That would go a long way to suggesting they’re the same person.  Are they always the same, or within the same block?  Could you contact their ISP?  Maybe if the guy’s parents (I’ve heard reports that he lives with his parents) get their internet cut off, maybe then they’ll realize the scope of the problem and look into getting him some help?  I’m assuming they don’t know the scope of his derangement…

  24. says

    It’s weird how anytime anyone does anything people come out against it. Looking at the comments on this post, other related posts and twitter activity and I see a significant minority of people criticizing the petition and saying that’s not how this should be done. Of course, almost none of them have any suggestions of their own and the few that do are just listing things that have been tried and completely ignored by the Montreal Police.After this is all over and hopefully resolved in the best interests of all involved I really would like to know why the Montreal Police just ignored Mabus sounding out frequent and violent death threats for years. I’m thinking it’s basically two possibilities, neither of which they’d be likely to admit to. Either they didn’t see the threats as legitimate (“Just some guy arguing on the internet? Who cares?”) or it’s because the targets belong to a group that they personally don’t care for. Which could mean anything as broadly as just people outside of their immediate jurisdiction or that they are atheists or bloggers.

  25. Azkyroth says

    Reports in the Pharyngula thread on this indicate that they’re apparently in the same sort of state of malignant denial that my elementary school principal lived her entire useless, vacuously-grinning life in.  Unfortunately, assisted head-desk therapy still isn’t legal. :(

  26. LadyCyborg says

    You are so pathetic, why don’t you spend your “godly time” helping those in need such as volunteering your time with children with cancer or the poor and stop wasting everyones time posting petty threats, David.

  27. says

    Thanks very muchly! Flattery will get you everywhere! Amusingly enough, Mabus in “fundie/conspiracy theory” speak was meant to match to the Nostradamus name for the antichrist. Until now it was supposed to be Saddam but apparently he wasn’t all that badass considering we sold him up as a mix between the cobra commander and Dr. Doom but the only real similarity was that they had underground layers. 

  28. says

    As someone who gets dozens of spam comments/”threats” from him, I think this is a waste of time. You’re all going to do what you’re going to do (like DM does), regardless of what I say, but I’m telling you that it’s a bad precedent to use the police to harrass somebody who hasn’t hurt anyone.I believe in free speech, and while I mean nothing and no one will care that I’m doing this, I will be leaving DM’s comments up on my blog until this silly petition fails.

  29. Carlie says

    Ginx, would you feel so serene about it if he were sending you letters in the mail with those threats? Or if he were calling your phone and leaving you voice mails with the same threats?If not, why not? Why is email/blog posts a less “real”  means of communication than phone or physical letters?

  30. says

    @Ginx, harrass??  Seriously?  He is not, “not hurting anyone”, he is sending death threats!  Do you not believe in taking death threats seriously until someone gets hurt?  Would you call it harrassment if someone sent a threat such as these to a public official?  You think the police would act then?  Saying that this is silly, is in itself, silly. Death threats should be taken seriously, and not given a pass under the very thin veil of free speech. Come on now.

  31. says

    “Do you not believe in taking death threats seriously until someone gets hurt?”Yes. Welcome to the fucking internet.

  32. says

    Would I feel serene if he sent me e-mail threats? He has, and I wouldn’t say I felt “serene…” more amused than serene. I’m more upset about his spelling, grammar and capitalization than I am about the threats themselves. Like, “Oh DM, you didn’t capitalize the first word in the sentence ‘all of you fuckers must die!!!!!!'”As for threatening phone calls, I would hope they aren’t during a work day, because my phone only has free nights and weekends.

  33. Zuche says

    No, welcome to the real world. If you can be charged for saying it (you can), and printing it in the newspaper (you can), why would you expect a free pass for doing it online? Threats are threats. It doesn’t matter whether the person making them is being serious or not.

  34. says

    Why would I expect that someone will get away with making death threats online… hmm… Like I said, welcome to the internet. You have been laughed at.

  35. says

    “almost none of them have any suggestions of their own”This is hardly a suggestion, itself. Oh boy, you signed a petition… pat yourselves on the back.I think Jen is being very civil in saying she doesn’t want to see him behind bars, and I think she’s right to feel that way, but if he’s not going to be arrested, what outcome are all of you are hoping for?

  36. says

    It’s funny that Canadians will apologize for anything, even shit they didn’t do, but most Americans don’t apologize for anything, even as they are shitting on you.

  37. Carlie says

    Ginx, my point is that physical letters and phone calls are taken very seriously by the police (and by most people). Why is it that internet communication is still considered some sort of play or pretend when it’s just as valid a way to transmit information? If you have a blog, you obviously think you’re transmitting something of substance over the net. Why assume that he isn’t just as sincere in his statements as you are in yours?

  38. says

    Jen, I am glad you’re not trying to send him to jail, but by what actual mechanism do you expect success on this? Short of being locked up in prison or a mental ward (the latter seems more fitting), I don’t see what can come of police action… besides maybe giving him validation.

  39. says

    Public figures get death threats all the time, and most are actually not pursued as criminal, nor do hardly any of them result in real violence. The prosecution of threats is rare, and usually requires proof of intent and means.I oppose this sort of thing because I do blog, and as someone who blogs about atheism and politics, I get a lot of threats. I get threats not only to my life, but threats claiming that I am threatening religion and that they will be seeking legal action through blogger, blah blah blah… you can imagine the drill.I think it’s a foolish move to carry online discussion into real world courts, because such actions move us in the direction of censorship and intolerance. Part of tolerance is tolerating people you don’t agree with, people you can’t stand, and yes, even people who hate you or wish you dead.It’s never a good idea to suppress others or their ideas. Ever. No exceptions.

  40. says

    That’s what some Christians think of Atheists, and they probably outnumber us. I’m just saying… think about what it is you’re actually suggesting (taking someone’s freedom) versus what this person has actually done. Not what they might do, or what you fear they could do, but what they actually did.I don’t want to live in a world where people are just locked up and drugged if others don’t like what they’re saying.

  41. Carlie says

    It’s not “not liking what they’re saying”, it’s direct explicit death threats directed at specific people, multiple times daily, over the course of more than a decade in some cases. I do want to live in a world where constant direct harassment is taken seriously.

  42. says

    Lemme get this straight… he’s been saying this stuff for over a decade and he still hasn’t done anything…If he was going to do something, he would have done it by now.And you do live in a world where you are free to take what someone says seriously, but you should know that I am infinitely happier for not doing so on every occassion.

  43. Carlie says

    He’s apparently been ramping up both the rhetoric he uses and the amount of messages and the number of people targeted. Isn’t it a damned if you do/don’t situation? If he never does anything, then you can say of course not, the history of having not done something by now indicated he never would. But if he does finally do something, then oh my, why didn’t anyone ever take him seriously all of that time and realize what he was working himself up to?

  44. says

    I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. – Thomas Jefferson

  45. says

    [Also, please don’t feel that I take a hostile stance on this. I can understand why everyone is pissed off. I have a spam inbox full of his “threats,” and I’m a person, too. But honestly… I find it impossible to feel threatened by a guy who worships Depeche Mode.]

  46. Simon Coudé says

    It’s great that you finally convinced the SPVM (Montréal’s police force) to investigate, and got the attention of the biggest french newspaper in Québec. That sort of story should make things move, at least a little. This guy should clearly be followed by a psychiatrist. Although I would have contacted the Sûreté du Québec (Quebec’s provincial police) instead of the RCMP. They have more resources than Montréal’s police for this sort of things, and the RCMP isn’t as present in Québec than it is in the rest of the country.Finally, I’m a little sad that some of the comments sound like Québec bashing. Sure the Montréal police force could use a serious kick in the ***, but that could be said of pretty much every other police force.  To go and say that our government is corrupt and racist is something else entirely, and out of place in this discussion anyway.I honestly hope something will be done against that mad man.

  47. says

    Oh, I guess that makes sense. I haven’t read enough to see if it was spammy or not, but now that you mention it, it really was pretty spammish.

  48. says

    I think it’s the combination of the “ramping up” of the vitriol & the fact that he’s started turning up to conventions that is triggering the alarm bells.

  49. Zuche says

    Dude, I can laugh in the street while I make such threats and still wind up on charges. Please stop kidding yourself.

  50. says

    Yeah, and if you get naked in the street, you’ll get arrested, but if you’re naked on the internet… then join the club.

  51. Louis says

    I had the same reaction to these comments as @Simon Coudé, yet there were only 2 or 3 of them. Why this subject has to be used as a basis for some populist/demagogue anglo victimization? I tend to have really high standards for skeptic/atheist, therefore even 2-3 comments make me very sad.  Police forces have problems everywhere (Having personally suffer the “fun” of tears gas and water cannons at a mainly peaceful manifestation for just being there, I’m not saying Québec’s one is necessarily better) and massacres happens also everywhere. It is certainly not a Québec exception. I usually do not give too much thought about bashing on internet because peoples tend to be really nasty when they think they are anonymous (This is really depressing!).  But here I agree that when you see a pattern spanning over 2 decades of precise threats to individuals, this should be taken seriously.For those of you who can read French, the La Presse story mentioned in a comment above is more interesting than the Gazette one. They talked with the mother on the phone and she said that while he is indeed the author of the messages she would not ask him to stop because it is what he believes in. She also said that he did not send death threats it is just that the journalist was not able to understand the messages. Well … Finally, I want to apologize for my somewhat poor grammar. I know it can be really unpleasant to read a badly written text sometime. I have not written so much in English lately. p.s. @Jen even if I do not always agree with you , I like reading your blog

  52. says

    He has some sort of list, and sometimes it seems (at least on certain days, especially Friday-Sunday) that making a new post will trigger it.

  53. Zuche says

    You aren’t naked on the internet. You’re claiming that you happen to be naked, wherever you are, but it’s not actually on the internet. Now if you’d like to prove to the internet that you are actually naked right now, you could always offer photograph evidence.Tell me something: say I was fourteen years old, and you were…oh, maybe twice that. Do you think you couldn’t be charged for sending me a link to those photos of yourself? I mean, we’re on the internet, right? You should be safe here, surely.Let’s go back to the issue of you being at home. Your actual state of dress is not relevant, so long as you keep it to the privacy of your own home. (Best stay away from large windows with a clear view to the street, though.) What you’re saying about me now, under your breath where no one can hear you, as you read what I’ve posted is not relevant either.What you post, however, is. If you post threats here, they’ll be treated as threats made anywhere else they’ve been witnessed. Please stop kidding yourself into believing that, “This is the internet,” is a synonym for, “It doesn’t count.”One last thing: this conduct has not been limited to the internet. This man has come to events attended by a number of people he’s threatened. Now you may be secure in the knowledge that this guy could never actually hurt you, what with your Herculean physique, trained in eleven martial arts and spices, and always carrying a half dozen nifty little blades hidden somewhere around your person, but you’d still have grounds to press charges against him, moreso than you’d have grounds to lay hands on him.

  54. says

    I think you have missed the point entirely if you think I see myself as invincible.And trust me, you do not want to see me naked, whether you’re 14 or 40. Maybe if you’re 80, I could pass, though I still think most octogenarians can do better.Anyway, I think you’re not going to be interested in what I have to say. Hopefully something I said made you laugh, because it obviously didn’t make you think.

  55. Zuche says

    If someone came after a friend of yours with a knife, I’d hope you’d be the sort of friend who’d reconsider your stance on suppressing others.The man is sick, and you’re advising to leave him alone, while others are pressing for him to get the help he obviously needs. That they’re doing so primarily out of concern for themselves and people other than this guy does not change the fact that intervention is also in his best interest.

  56. says

    I’d say he has horrible taste in books, and that he’s a little late to kill Lennon. If he wants to take out Yoko, I wouldn’t be upset. Oh shit… don’t report me to the police, I made a death joke.

  57. says

    Coming after someone with a knife… saying something… yeah, there’s a difference, still. I had to check, because you guys almost have me doubting, but it turns out words still are just words.You guys aren’t pressing for him to get help, you’re calling the dog catcher on him like he’s a mangy stray you want put down. What utter bullshit, that you would peddle that tripe, that you guys are doing this out of the kindness of your heart. What a charade.Admit it: you guys are just sick of deleting his comments. No one feels threatened, you’re just too lazy to click from time to time.

  58. says

    He was worse a few years ago, it has toned down since at least 2010. I think people are just losing their patience.

  59. Zuche says

    Talk about missing the point. It doesn’t matter whether or not you feel invincible, nor whether you look more like Jabba the Hutt or Sean Connery in his prime. No one has the right to threaten violence against you. If you’re willing to accept that, that is entirely your problem. No one else should have to wait until this man finally dies to determine whether or not he’s just all talk or, like so many before him, he’s just building up for the explosion.As to your final point, I’ve severely overestimated your intelligence, if you really believe that thinking would mean I’d have to agree with you. If you don’t believe that, well…then I’ve both overestimated your intelligence and your integrity.

  60. says

    Oh, sorry. You feel threatened, like a white person on a public bus feels threatened. My mistake.I meant to say: you have no real reason for feeling threatened.

  61. Zuche says

    If I wanted him put down, why would I wait two decades for the police to do it, when I could save a lot of time and do it myself? No, that is not what I want.Do you think he’s going to listen to requests from the people he attacks to get help? After this long, I’m sure he’s heard that more than a few times. It’s been made apparent that his parents aren’t doing anything to get him the help he needs either. Do you know what happens to people charged with assault (physical or otherwise) or uttering threats in Canada? Many cases are dealt with by alternative measures, where no charges are laid if the accused completes a treatment program (usually for anger management or substance abuse, as is applicable, but mental illness is covered) and some community service. More severe cases can result in jail time, but treatment is still part of the program.If people are more concerned with a relief from death threats than the good this will do him, so what? The end result is still in his best interests. Why are you so opposed to having a man held accountable for his behaviour while getting help he needs?

  62. Zuche says

    Chapman wasn’t the only killer that showed a little too much interest in that novel; Robert John Bardo and John Hinckley Jr. were also part of its fan club. The point is, your opinion of another’s artistic choices are a poor indicator of how little threat they are, especially when compared to a lengthy history of uttering threats.

  63. Kwisatz Haderach says

    Its really quite simple Ginx. Sending death threats is a crime in Canada. That’s all that needs to be said. He has been repeatedly breaking the law for a long time now. He is a criminal, it is time for the law to deal with him.

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