Have we seen the last tweet from "David Mabus"?

By Phil Plait | August 17, 2011 3:33 pm

Incredibly, it looks like the long, long story of David Mabus may be drawing to a close.

He is notorious in the skeptic community: for years he has posted comments, emailed, and tweeted anti-skeptic and anti-atheist diatribes, mostly incoherent. I would commonly see many spam tweets from him filling my feed, sometimes over a dozen a day. It was very irritating, but that was all.

However, more recently his spam escalated into death threats. I’ve received them myself. When I got them I contacted the local sheriff’s office, but since Mabus (a pseudonym) lives in Canada, I couldn’t make much progress. The same was true for many other skeptics as well.

But then things changed… and I’ll let you read Tim Farley’s post about how it all came about. Tim gives an astonishingly detailed and thorough account of what happened. There are copious links and images there to give you the entire story. But the bottom line is that the Montreal Police just today announced they had made an arrest in the case, and Tim has confirmed the arrest was of Mabus himself.

I don’t have much to add to what Tim wrote, except this: I don’t want to see Mabus tossed into jail. I’m not a psychiatrist, but it’s clear the man has mental problems. We tend to stigmatize mental illness, but that’s unfair and unhelpful; it’s a prejudice that may blind us to how that person’s condition can be mitigated with attention and care. My fondest and most sincere hope is that this arrest leads to an evaluation of Mabus and that he gets the help he so obviously needs.

I am not breathing a sigh of relief quite yet, either. This arrest is another step in this long journey, but it may not be the last one. There are any number of ways this could play out, but I am very hopeful that given the importance of this new development we’ll see real progress made.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Skepticism
MORE ABOUT: David Mabus, Tim Farley

Comments (84)

  1. Michael

    It’s very mature of you not to demand he be locked away.

  2. Yes, indeed. Having actually received death threats from the fellow, I’m extremely glad to see the police at least trying to do something about him. His imagery is unequivocally violent, and he seems (to my unprofessional perception) to have been escalating over the years. While I cannot deny a certain amount of shadenfreude, I’m mainly hopeful that he can get help.

  3. Jeff

    Wow, this guy has serious issues. Thanks, Phil, for being an example of someone who is genuinely concerned without resorting to being an alarmist.

  4. That was a really amazing read. He’s definitely a disturbed individual. I’m glad that the authorities finally took notice.

  5. Admittedly I hadn’t really heard of the David Mabus phenomenon, reading Farley’s account makes me picture one very disturbed individual. I hope he gets either the help or the justice he deserves, depending on what’s appropriate.

  6. James

    I’m just glad to see someone is sitting up and paying attention now. Markuze has freaked out a lot of people over the years.

  7. Nemo

    And all we had to do (after years of nothing happening) was spam @SPVM for a few days. Oh Twitter, is there nothing you can’t do?

    I admit, I’ll perversely kind of miss him.

  8. Interesting that this was a combination of new media and old – ‘conventional’ journalists (who all use Twitter, of course) played an important part, too.

  9. Tom

    Good to see that he has been dealt with, but less than impressed with spamming the Montreal police. It causes the whole thing to resemble vigilante justice. I can easily see how such actions in the future could be used against people that might very well be innocent.

  10. John

    Wow, I hadn’t heard about this guy, and I very glad that they were able to arrest him and stop the harassment. I agree with you: he needs psychological help more than jail (although there should be some legal consequences to sending out death threats regardless).

  11. Brian Too

    I’m sorry you had to put up with this Phil. It’s one of the unfortunate side-effects of getting a public profile. Targetting by people who have a warped sense of boundaries.

    Humanity is a messy lot, both good and bad.

  12. Thank ya Jebus!!! I spoke w/ the Montreal Police a year ago…and told unless I was willing to appear in court(in Canda!!) , with “a dozen continuences broughtby the defense attorney” there isnt alot that could be done.

    Well, thanks is owed to someone!!

  13. Chris

    On a lighter note, if you live around Cleveland, there may be meteorites in your area!

  14. Wow. I hadn’t heard of Mabus before, but it’s good to hear he’s been arrested. He makes the stalker I dealt with last year look like nothing. All she did was claim that I was lying about who I was (because everyone with an interest in photography online is apparently just one guy) and that I really wanted to leave my wife and be with her. The biggest threat she made was threatening to contact brands I worked with to “expose my lies” (because all the photos I post of me and my family, she claimed, were stolen from another family… a family which coincidentally was reviewing the exact same products I was reviewing). It’s one reason why I keep my real name a secret online. So I don’t need to worry about crazies like this looking up my address and paying me a visit.

    One thing I learned from that experience is to gather all the evidence you can. I PDF captured blog posts of hers (before she “died”, deleted the posts, and then “got better”). I also put an IP address feature on the Contact Me form on my blog so that someone sending me a threatening note from there wouldn’t be anonymous.

    Sadly, there seem to be an abundance of nuts out there willing to ruin the lives of as many people as possible. Hopefully, this is one less nut to deal with.

  15. Kittynh

    Actually my hope is that this is not just a good thing for skeptics and atheists. I’m hoping it’s a good thing for Mabus. Best case scenario he gets on some medication and/or gets therapy and is able to have a real life. Without the hard work of so many to have this man brought to justice, he would have probably lived with his mother spitting out venom and hatred for the rest of his life. Now, he at least has a chance to get the help he so obviously needs.

  16. Blizno

    It is less important that this mentally ill person receives the care that he needs than that he is prevented from harming anybody else.

    If the only way to be sure of keeping him from escalating his illness to committing assaults or murders is to keep him behind bars, then hold him behind bars.

    The gentle care of this broken person must take place but only after he is rendered harmless to others.

  17. Smitty

    I suspect that you are correct Phil, that this gentleman may not have the mental faculties to competently stand a trial.

    However, I don’t think that this should be treated as being “over.” I fear that the Montreal police and prosecution may only press charges for threats against local persons. I think that this needs to be pressed one level further to get it broader international attention. Far above and beyond the crossing of State or Provincial borders, he has gone as far to cross international borders, those of the US and England at least. Do enough digging and I’m sure that it may be discovered that his threats were directed against citizens of Australia and most of Europe.

    More evidence needs to be brought to bear and this needs to be pushed to the international level. This will ensure that whatever the outcome, be it Incarceration or Institutionalization, it will be comprehensive, thorough and very long term. With a significant period of probation after release, if any.

    Mental competency aside, you can’t get away with making countless death threats against thousands of people and their families for fifteen years and get away with it.

  18. Though I am sad he is fellow Canadian (I thought we were all cool?) it is kind of good in his situation. It’s a hell of a lot easier for people to get mental health treatment (especially those who really need it but are unemployed, like some homeless) since it’s all covered here. Go Canada.

    But to those worried about him harming people – Mental care in a treatment facility means he won’t be able to just walk out and hurt people. It is a sort of jail, but he will receive the care he needs as well as containment and, if required, isolation.
    Tellie

  19. flip

    Speaking as someone who is mentally ill, I wish people would stop calling for psychiatry in this case. It’s clear that he has broken the law: he should be charged. Continuing to say “let’s dismiss it, he needs help” only continues to stigmatise and totally disregards the fact that plenty of mentally ill people DON’T break the law, along with encouraging an unequal application of it (I’d like to think that if I ever did break the law, I’d be punished appropriately). If a judge or similar decides he needs an evaluation, that’s fine: but how about we let the law decide how the law should be applied?

    Have to say, this is one of the few times where I take issue with something the BA writes.

    I don’t have much to add to what Tim wrote, except this: I don’t want to see Mabus tossed into jail. I’m not a psychiatrist, but it’s clear the man has mental problems. We tend to stigmatize mental illness, but that’s unfair and unhelpful; it’s a prejudice that may blind us to how that person’s condition can be mitigated with attention and care.

    Yes, and even though I know you’re not suggesting ignoring equal application of the law, that’s kind of what your writing suggests. This issue has nothing to do with mental illness and everything to do with a person doing something which is illegal. It offends me when people say “I’m not a shrink, but…” because honestly, you can’t diagnose someone from a distance (just like any other illness).

    Zen Buffy has some interesting points on how discussion of Mabus stigmatises the mentally ill, including stats on the prevalence of violence.
    zenbuffy.com/2011/08/time-to-institutionalise-pz-myers/

    Personally, I’ll be glad to hear the guy is arrested; and if a judge orders an evaluation fine. We can all make judgements on the law, as that is clear and easy to research even if you’re not a lawyer. But unless you’re someone who has meet Mabus and can perform a legit evaluation, it’s not right to jump to conclusions, no matter how weird his posts are on the net.

  20. Messier Tidy Upper

    Good news. :-)

    I hope it means Mabus gets the pyschiatric treatment he obviously needs and is kept offline until he’s vastly changed for the better as his victims (past and potential) need.

    I have encountered him previously and recieved a death threat or two from him on another forum / blog. (Slacktivist if anyone’s curious.) Tried reasoning with him there to no avail.

    @ 18. Kittynh :

    Actually my hope is that this is not just a good thing for skeptics and atheists. I’m hoping it’s a good thing for Mabus. Best case scenario he gets on some medication and/or gets therapy and is able to have a real life. Without the hard work of so many to have this man brought to justice, he would have probably lived with his mother spitting out venom and hatred for the rest of his life. Now, he at least has a chance to get the help he so obviously needs.

    ^ This! Seconded by me. When I had my death threat from him there was initial shock but given I was in a different continent with my RL identity totally unknown to him and given that I knew he was spraying these at almost everyone he encountered I had no fear.

    I imagine for others for whoem those are not true things could be quite different.

    But my main emotion towards Mabus is pity. Tinged with the knowledge that there but for quirks of brain chemistry and upbringing and environment could go I – or perhaps any one of us.

    I have a mental condition myself (Aspergers Syndrome) – not as bad clearly (I *hope* it’s clearly) I have my own obsessions and issues. But I’ve never threatened anyone with death or attack nor would I ever think of doing so. Most people with similar mental issues – & most other mental health issues – wouldn’t. Most mentally ill people are multiple times more likely to hurt themselves and their families than anyone else.

    Mental illness is a real problem, much more common than most of us probably realise and I sometimes think sanity is perhaps the rarest and least normal condition of all!

    I hope this works out well for Mabus – and for everyone else who has had to put up with his unacceptable, scary and ultimately sad behaviour.

    @14. Brian Too :

    I’m sorry you had to put up with this Phil. It’s one of the unfortunate side-effects of getting a public profile. Targetting by people who have a warped sense of boundaries. Humanity is a messy lot, both good and bad.

    Seconded. So very true.

  21. I too am glad this has apparently worked out well. Or started to work out well. It’s a case we’ll want to follow for years. I hope we can keep tabs on his case…
    Are we not using his real name any more to avoid lawsuits?

  22. Daeron

    I read Tim Farley’s post, and it made me incredibly sad. Sure, for Markuze, but also for Farley. Trying to make sense out of the words, thoughts and actions of someone with serious mental illness is an exercise in frustration.

    I witnessed the slow, year by year deterioration of a family member with increasing schizophrenia. At first, she began with becoming extremely religious. But it went further… fringe apparitions of the Mother of God, prophecies… and further… until she began to claim that God was speaking directly to her. First, God told her the world was ending. Then God told her to threaten children in the family with kidnapping and death. Farley is pretty down on the RCMP, but our situation (living in Canada with our sick loved one in the U.S.) was opposite in every way — the RCMP were as helpful as possible, and contacted the police in her jurisdiction. It was the U.S. police who, in our case, were completely unhelpful and refused to do anything even at the request of the RCMP. To make a long, sad story short, God eventually told her to buy a .44 Magnum, and then told her to drive out to a field and shoot herself through the side of the head. We felt so helpless to do anything to help. Nothing, legally, could be done, unless she harmed herself or others. Of course then, it was too late.

    We are failing those in our society who are mentally ill. If you ask me, the skeptic community failed Dennis Marzuke, and needs to spend some time reflecting on that. When someone is mentally ill, you don’t take it personally, and you don’t taunt them back and mock them and gang up against them. The photo of the jewelery being sold by skeptics with Marzuke’s ranting quotations on it is utterly reprehensible to me. Whoever made that, or bought that, should be extremely ashamed. Would you have treated a loved one or family member that way? If your mother, or daughter, was mentally ill, would you want mocking jewelry made about her rants? No — you’d love her, and you would do anything you could to get her help. Yet apparently it took the skeptic community 20 years to finally get the guts to do something — no, not to help the man, but because some people were worried about their own safety.

    Thanks, Phil, for having the guts to point out that this fellow needs help, not prison bars… because frankly, between this, and all the sexism stuff brought to light by Watson/Dawkins, I’m really starting to lose my faith in the skeptic movement, if you’ll pardon the pun. Seems we haven’t really evolved very much after all. If anyone should have an above-average sense of how to deal with the mentally ill, it’s skeptics, who deal with so many people on the fringe. I applaud the folks over on the Skeptic’s Guide podcast, who make it clear that if they suspect someone is mentally ill, they don’t make a news story out of their rants on the podcast. That’s a start.

    Now, let’s talk about how we — as a community, and as a society — can start doing more to help these people early on before it gets this bad. Why not put together some sort of skeptic action team, that can be mobilized — and I mean gently and kindly — to contact authorities if at all possible when we come across people like Marzuke? PZ Myers’ “it won’t help” attitude is exactly what we don’t need. We need people who care enough to make some calls and write some letters with concern and caring instead of outrage and fear.

  23. Michael

    If he gets a bond, suspended sentence, minimum fine, community service, or anything other than a custodial sentence, he will say the same as most other criminals in that situation: “Beauty, I got away with it.”

  24. Niall

    Good to see that most reactions to the arrest have been relief rather than revelling. The guy is obviously not mentally well and I hope he gets the treatment he needs. The one thing I admire about the skeptical community is that we are often a very moral and decent group without clinging to the belief that it’s all because of a book/deity.

  25. Ettiene Fleury

    I hope that Mabus is locked up and treated for his mental health disorders. His spam was becoming more and more threatening (especially to PZ Myers and his family) and it is better to be safe than have the guy kill someone.

  26. Ettiene Fleury

    #23 Flip wrote: “Zen Buffy has some interesting points on how discussion of Mabus stigmatises the mentally ill, including stats on the prevalence of violence. ”

    Zen Buffy writes nonsense. Mabus needs to be dealt with by the authorities for issuing death threats. It has nothing to do with stigmatizing anyone.

  27. Mika

    @23. flip:

    “Speaking as someone who is mentally ill, I wish people would stop calling for psychiatry in this case. It’s clear that he has broken the law: he should be charged. ”

    Well, I don’t know how you do things over there, but here in Finland the law says you shouldn’t punish someone for breaking the law if their mental status is such that they cannot be held fully accountable for their actions. In that case the law explicitly calls for a psychiatric evaluation and treatment instead.

    Of course that leaves a nasty loophole. Just this past week one guy, who was initially charged for stabbing his friend to death a year ago, was released from custody without charges. Why? Because the court ruled that at the time of stabbing he was mentally unbalanced – hence not accountable for his actions – but the psychiatric evaluation concluded that he is sane (more or less) now and can be let go.

    We are told this kind of thing happens all the time, somebody does something in a psychosis, is not charged for the crime but sent to a mental institution and then released (sometimes a few months, sometimes years, sometimes never) later when they are deemed “recovered”.

    Personally I have to say that while the idea of someone “getting away” without consequences leaves a sour taste to my mouth I do like the general principle that a person whose reality field is distorted seriously enough for them to commit crimes should get proper treatment instead of jail time.

  28. After reading Tim Farley’s article, I’m not so sure he’s that mentally unbalanced. His last tweets were apologies, so apparently he knows what he did was wrong, he just thought there wouldn’t be any repercussions. He does need some sort of help, but it should be administered either while he’s in a padded or barred room.

  29. François

    I’m from Montreal and I had seen the headline in the news, but failed to make the connection with this guy. I’m kind of ashamed he’s from my home city. Then again, nutjobs are found everywhere!! But like Phil mentioned, I think what he needs is help and not punishment.

  30. MarkF

    Hey Phil,
    Long-time reader, seldom commenter. Sorry to read that you were getting harassed by a fellow Canuck. Hopefully this guy gets the help that he needs, or at least, hopefully they take away his Internets for a little.

  31. @ Berlzebub,

    From the timeline in Farley’s post, I’m guessing the police made a quick visit to talk with Mabus. They probably made it abundantly clear during the talk which way this was headed (arrest). When they left, he likely freaked out. He might have felt comfortable making all of these threats over the years because there were “no repercussions.” He probably felt that nobody would be able to do anything to him. He might have overestimated his ability to stay anonymous or thought that his threats would keep people from moving against him.

    Either way, the police visit made him realize that there were repercussions and they were arriving quickly. He likely panicked and tried to apologize in a desperate attempt to get everyone to call off the police. Not that that would have or even could have happened, but it was a desperate last move by someone who has been digging himself into this hole for years.

  32. Jesper

    I had never heard of David Mabus. I hope he learns from this that he can’t just harass people and threaten people without repercussions. And I also hope that he is at least monitored somehow – you don’t want somebody who is potentially dangerous to be free to do whatever he wants.

  33. bouch

    @27 Mika:

    “We are told this kind of thing happens all the time, somebody does something in a psychosis, is not charged for the crime but sent to a mental institution and then released (sometimes a few months, sometimes years, sometimes never) later when they are deemed “recovered”.

    Personally I have to say that while the idea of someone “getting away” without consequences leaves a sour taste to my mouth I do like the general principle that a person whose reality field is distorted seriously enough for them to commit crimes should get proper treatment instead of jail time.”

    I’ve heard people suggest a version of “guilty but insane”, where a jail sentence is imposed, but the person begins serving that time in a mental health facility. If the person is judged sane at some later point, they are transferred to a jail to serve the remaining sentence, if at all. If someone is sentenced to 20 years in jail, they’ll either serve all 20 in a mental health facility or N years in the facility followed by 20-N years in jail. Makes them both responsible and gets them treatment.

  34. Astrogarden

    A good illustration of why “real name” policies that net hosts are starting to use are a double edged sword. Anonymity protects the nut cases but can also protect the normal folks from the nut cases.

    In my case I tend to use my real name only when it is necessary for the discussion and that is not terribly often. Even then, only on somewhat “closed” lists and such.

    I have great respect for those who put their real selves out there. I would spend all my time in Kevlar and looking over my shoulder!

  35. mermaid4

    As someone else already said, I am less concerned about this kind of person getting treatment than in keeping him from harming others. As long as he is in a secure place where he can’t leave, sure, treat him, try some meds, try some therapy, but above all keep violent and dangerous people. mentally ill or not, away from the innocent people they hurt and sometimes kill. Most mentally ill are harmless, many can benefit from therapy and medication and should have access to them. But those whose rhetoric is violent, hateful, and escalating need to be treated as criminally insane and removed from society.

  36. bouch

    While I agree this person needs treatment, it seems to me that one of the reasons in the increase in the tone and volume of his messages is because everyone he was sending messages to were simply ignoring him.

    My inner “amateur psychologist” says that this guy has a serious issue with other people ignoring him, and the only way he could get attention was to become more and more outrageous with what he was saying, and to say it to more and more people. The more people would say “oh crap, its that guy again”, and block him, the more he felt he had to do to get attention. (note I am NOT blaming the victims for ignoring him, I would do the same thing. I’m just trying to suggest one possiblity for why he acted the way he did)

    Well, I’m glad he’s getting the type of attention he really needs, attention by a mental health professional.

  37. Matt

    Hate to be cynical here, but I can’t help but wonder if the police response wasn’t due to community pressure, but backlash from the Norwegian gunman incident of Anders Breivik. I imagine many western nations saw this and then looked internally to see if they had any low-hanging fruit to address that might avoid a similar incident…

  38. Dan I.

    The guy clearly needs help. To those saying “don’t dismiss it…” I don’t think anyone is suggesting a dismissal of charges. But an incarceration in jail is not the most appropriate remedy here.

    He needs to be confined to a treatment center and evaluated.

  39. RalphP

    “I hadn’t known there were so many idiots in the world until I started using the Internet.”
    ~Stanisław Lem

  40. I’m no expert in this sort of thing. I’ve dealt with a few blog-stalkers, or at least some trolls who have engaged in extremely vicious harassment in the comments on my blog, and the piece of advice I’ve found most useful was something I learned at this link: DON’T RESPOND TO THEM. Don’t react, don’t interact. As a wise priest once said, “Do not engage the devil in conversation.”

    http://www.groupnewsblog.net/2007/10/dont-feed-stalker.html

    Now, after my initial, foolish interactions with them, I did allow my “stalkers” to change my behavior in one way: I activated comment moderation, so I have to approve all comments before they are posted. I wasn’t thrilled about having to do that, but it seems to be becoming more and more necessary. (Especially, as “The Real Blogger Status” recently pointed out, blog comment feed subscriptions mean that subscribers are treated to EVERY comment as it is published.)

    I don’t use Twitter, so I don’t know if there’s any way to do something similar there. And I don’t know how this guy would have responded to being ignored. Frankly, I don’t think it would have slowed him down, but I DO think that responses from and interactions with his targets energized and invigorated him. I think a lot of people made a lot of dangerous mistakes in toying with him, thinking they were cleverly swatting at some annoying jerk. Still, perhaps if he had been ignored from the start, he might have gone nuclear that much faster. I’m glad he was taken down before he did any physical damage.

    Lesson learned: if you’re being harassed, the police will ignore you unless and until you can convince your stalker to harasss them as well. Super.

  41. “Yet apparently it took the skeptic community 20 years to finally get the guts to do something — no, not to help the man, but because some people were worried about their own safety.”

    We are allowed to be worried about our own safety aren’t we?

    I hope he gets help if that’s what he needs; I hope he gets cured; but I also think we do get to attempt to protect ourselves.

  42. icemith

    @23 – flip….

    I’m sure you have your reasons for your attitude, and the right to express them, I feel, as most others who have commented, that he needs to have serious treatment. This will, (absolutely should), come as it can only be directed by the presiding Judge, who will see that it is carried out.

    We have no wishlist here, no vengeful desires, as it is understood that he needs help. There are too, too many people who have not been considered effectively, but branded and stigmatised, and almost literally thrown into jail, where they vow to “get their own back”, either in jail, or when they are released. Or escape.

    Justice has to be done, and seen to be done, and that has to include restoration of his mind, because his actions are only true in his own mind, and not in anybody else’s. At least we hope not.

    Thanks Phil, and others for the considerate, thoughtful and understanding approach.

    Ivan.

  43. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 24. MTU :

    I hope this works out well for Mabus – and for everyone else who has had to put up with his unacceptable, scary and ultimately sad behaviour.

    Plus I should have added there his criminal behaviour. Making death threats is a crime and does require justice. If Mabus enters an insanity plea, he’ll clearly have a good case but that shouldn’t enable him to escape entirely. He needs treatment – but there should also be criminal sanctions as well in my view.

    He should also, I hope be kept away form computers and internet access untill he has demonstrated that he is no longer any threat. People should’nt have to put up with death threats.

    No more news on this matter yet?

  44. QuietDesperation

    the long, long story of David Mabus

    Er… who? Seriously, never heard of him before this.

    #4: While I cannot deny a certain amount of shadenfreude, I’m mainly hopeful that he can get help.

    Deny it harder. Shadenfreude is a facet of what is destroying us as a society.

    #38: Anonymity protects the nut cases but can also protect the normal folks from the nut cases.

    And those like me who are normal nut cases. :-D Wait, what?

  45. Benjamin

    Update: the guy is going to get a psychological evaluation. Link (in French):
    http://www.branchez-vous.com/techno/actualite/2011/08/menaces_internet_mabus_justice.html

  46. Rift

    Silly me. I didn’t sign the petition because I didn’t think online petitions work. Color me wrong. I’m ashamed I didn’t sign it now.

  47. CraterJoe

    Why can’t anyone make Life threats? C’mon. “Phil, I’m going to make you live a long and happy life!!!” :)

  48. You all hope he gets “treatment” and a “psychological evaluation”? That’s the best you can do? What a pathetically liberal response! Can’t one of you be a man and say that you want this person shot or tortured?

    This is why people of your ilk are so hated on this planet, and why the honest warriors and barbarians are gaining power: because you are so f**king weak. The medieval holy warriors with ten children each and a desire to kill for God are going to bury your wretched culture if you don’t wake up. Modernity is weak and suicidal because it has become so effeminate, because you are unwilling to conquer, kill your enemies or take any hard lines. There will be many more Mabuses (and bin Ladens) as long as secular humanists remain so weak and easy to attack. To quote Darth Sion: “I have studied you, and found nothing but weakness.”

  49. QuietDesperation

    @SithMaster

    Apparently being a “man” means avoiding logic and reason.

    You are comparing a lone nut to declared enemies of society that have a track record of acting on their threats. It is possible to be compassionate toward one and turn around and be unyielding to the other. To quote River Song, “Demons run when a good man goes to war.” Hey, two can play the “back up your arguments with quote from fictional characters” game.

    You sound unloved. Would you like a hug? I can link one. Here you go: Click for hug

  50. Joseph G

    @52 SMS: Yes, because a disturbed guy sending internet threats from his mother’s basement is clearly exactly as dangerous as a multimillionaire terrorist sponsor with followers all over the world who have already killed thousands of people, and who managed to hide from US (and others’) Special Forces for over 10 years.

    Yep, the comparison couldn’t be more apt.

  51. Joseph G

    @53: Hey QD! Outposted me, a usual. I still want to be in your club, anyway :P

    Speaking of this guy’s mother (last post) how is it possible that she’s this deep in denial? Does she know wat he’s been doing and is afraid to speak up, or is she just working really hard to ignore teh crazy?

  52. QuietDesperation

    and who managed to hide from US (and others’) Special Forces for over 10 years.

    Be fair. He had a lot of help.

  53. QuietDesperation if you try to touch me I will put you in the hospital. You keep hugging your enemies and see how long you survive on this planet. The great mystery to me is why scientists and secular people have adopted this insane hippie-Christian way of thinking, when there is no evidence in nature that such a thing is warranted. The best way to deal with your enemies is to obey the command of Emperor Palpatine: “Wipe them out. Wipe them all out.”

  54. QuietDesperation

    If you get near me I will kill you.

    *yawn*

    And I saw this before you edited it to putting me in the hospital. What’s the matter? Not *MAN* enough to leave it the way it was?

    You keep hugging your enemies…

    Let’s see. Where did I say we should hug our enemies. (looks at post) Nope. Not there. Are you on ‘shrooms, dude?

    obey the instructions of Emperor Palpatine

    I’ve been caught by a Poe, haven’t I? Ah well.

  55. Rift

    @Harold

    Phil posted that link in a blog post 3 or so years ago.

    Phil, was that in reaction to Mabus?

  56. Joseph G

    Sheesh, I really shouldn’t have used the word “crazy”. But it kinda shows how difficult itcan be to talk about mental illness.
    Full disclosure: Mental health awareness and education is actually sort of an important issue to me – I volunteer on a suicide crisis hotline and work to support a person with mental health issues at my day job. It doesn’t hurt that I’m recovering from suicidal depression and generalized anxiety myself.

    Bottom line: I agree with Phil wholeheartedly – any progress at all toward getting this guy some mental health evaluation and treatment is a wonderful thing. Some kinds of mental illness are obviously extremely unpleasant all the time (depression, for example) and it’s not hard to convince a person suffering from such a condition that they need help. But someone who’s delusional (and possibly manic) may well be extremely opposed to treatment. This sort of situation might be his only chance to get the help he needs.

    Looking at the various blogs, I’m seeing all manner of bickering (mostly in the comments) about whether it’s fair to arrest someone with a mental illness who hasn’t harmed anyone, or claiming that to get law enforcement involved is to unfairly stigmatize people with mental illness (without offering any alternative plan of action). IMHO, the first point is just plain moot, and on the scond, I obviously disagree.

  57. Joseph G

    SMS: In all seriousness, if you’re taking your political philosophy from a famous group of (completely fictional!!) rutless villains, it may be time to pause and bone up on your humanities.
    Humanity too. But mostly Humanities.

  58. Grimoire

    SMS: In all seriousness, if you’re taking your political philosophy from a famous group of (completely fictional!!) rutless villains,

    Click on his link and look at his web site. This guy is a massive, gigantic uber-loser.

    http://seanthemystic.blogspot.com/

    Ba ha ha ha! The face of evil! Wooooooo! Seriously, WTF?

  59. Rift @59: I had a feeling that this where I picked it up! I’ve passed it on to many people since, and have cited it on my own blog, but I think I lost the original provenance. Thanks.

    QD @58: Do not engage the devil in conversation. If someone thinks it’s amusing to sit behind the anaonymity of a pseudonum and make threats, they’ll eventually find out that anonymity is an illusion.

  60. QuietDesperation

    Do not engage the devil in conversation.

    Eh, I’ve been on this intertoob thing since some of the old timers were still calling it ARPANet now and then. My Little Sithlord there doesn’t even register on the meters, and he’s probably a Poe anyway. *shrug* It’s sound and fury signifying nothing.

    And, actually, I’d jump at the chance to interview the actual devil. ;-) Do you know how much I could sell that for?

  61. So it only took 57 comments for a death threat to appear on a topic about it. Hmmm….

  62. QuietDesperation

    So it only took 57 comments for a death threat to appear on a topic about it.

    Yeah, I would have put the over-under at 30.

  63. Rift

    @Harold

    Here’s Phil’s original blog post (Oct 2007) I didn’t link to it the first time because I didn’t want to get held up in moderation. I don’t know if Phil posted that because of Mabus or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2007/10/07/a-bent-stalk-produces-crooked-timber/

    I too have passed on that link to many people. In fact, sadly, I didn’t even have to click on it because I recognized the url.

  64. Keith Bowden

    Aw, SMS is an erzatz Conan!

    Mongol General: What is best in life?
    Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

    (How did he miss this quote?) :)

    Ah, QD, you’d have a more likely chance of interviewing Superman. (Another :) )

  65. Rift

    Probably because that’s a REAL quote from Genghis Khan…

  66. QuietDesperation

    Ah, QD, you’d have a more likely chance of interviewing Superman.

    Superman? Meh. Is the Doom Patrol available?

  67. Jetstream

    Interesting. I swear I’ve seen this guy before, long ago, on Usenet. I don’t hang out in many skeptic communities, but I seem to remember some cross posts back in the late ’90s, early ’00s.

  68. Chip

    Sadly, there is another similar case involving a Canadian man making death threats (along with extremely vile and homophobic language) via amateur radio. Like “Mabus” complaints (to Industry Canada, the RCMP and local police in the B.C. town where this guy lives) have been futile. Dealing with threats that cross international borders can be a challenge. Glad that Mabus has been arrested and hope he gets the help he needs.

  69. Silent Bob

    @ 24 Messier Tidy Upper

    I have a mental condition myself (Aspergers Syndrome)… I have my own obsessions and issues.

    Sheesh! Way to lay a guilt trip on me for occasionally poking fun at your quirkiness. ;-)

    Messier, you are definitely one of the more intriguing and colourful characters around here, and your “different perspective” has led to many interesting and worthwhile debates.

    Thanks for being such a prolific contributor to this blog and I hope you’ll continue to be so for a long time to come.

  70. Nigel Depledge

    Daeron (26) said:

    If you ask me, the skeptic community failed Dennis Marzuke, and needs to spend some time reflecting on that. When someone is mentally ill, you don’t take it personally, and you don’t taunt them back and mock them and gang up against them. The photo of the jewelery being sold by skeptics with Marzuke’s ranting quotations on it is utterly reprehensible to me. Whoever made that, or bought that, should be extremely ashamed.

    So, do you think everyone who received threats from Marzuke should have been able to diagnose his afflictions without knowing anything about the man apart from his online ranting and his threats? Because this is what you seem to be assuming.

    No, if someone rants online and then threatens physical violence, they should be brought to task appropriately. I rather suspect that it would have started with the shredding of any feeble argument he made. The sceptical community has not failed Marzuke. Rather, his own family, friends and community have failed him.

  71. Nigel Depledge

    Re: whether or not Marzuke should be charged for his death threats due to the likelihood of mental illness -

    I really think every other nation on Earth should take a leaf out of the books of Scottish law. Scottish law does not have any verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity”. This simply does not exist. Instead, Scottish law has the verdict “guilty but insane”.

  72. Nigel Depledge

    Berlzebub (32) said:

    After reading Tim Farley’s article, I’m not so sure he’s that mentally unbalanced. His last tweets were apologies, so apparently he knows what he did was wrong, he just thought there wouldn’t be any repercussions. He does need some sort of help, but it should be administered either while he’s in a padded or barred room.

    Agreed.

    He clearly knew that what he did was wrong – otherwise he would have seen no call for an apology. It seems that, while he thought he could get away with it, he posted all sorts of offensive and threatening tripe; but then when he realised he was going to be arrested and probably tried, he attempted to make out that his threats were all some kind of twisted joke (or at least not made in earnest).

  73. Nigel Depledge

    MTU (47) said:

    He should also, I hope be kept away form computers and internet access untill he has demonstrated that he is no longer any threat. People should’nt have to put up with death threats.

    Yes. This.

  74. Nigel Depledge

    Sith Master Sean (52) said:

    You all hope he gets “treatment” and a “psychological evaluation”? That’s the best you can do? What a pathetically liberal response! Can’t one of you be a man and say that you want this person shot or tortured?

    Seriously? You’re advocating torture? On what planet does that constitute justice?

    Were you bullied at school?

    Also, since when was compassion a sign of weakness?

  75. @ ^ Nigel Depledge : I’m pretty sure Sith Master Sean is a Poe who is joking there. I don’t think he’s being serious.

    @76. Nigel Depledge :

    I really think every other nation on Earth should take a leaf out of the books of Scottish law. Scottish law does not have any verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity”. This simply does not exist. Instead, Scottish law has the verdict “guilty but insane”.

    Agreed 100%. That makes a lot more sense to me too. Scottish law does – from what little I know of it – seem one of the best and most reasonable legal systems. I also like their “not proven” verdict option too. :-)

    @74. Silent Bob : No worries and thanks. :-)

    We all have our own idiosyncracies and quirks. Some of us just have more than others. ;-)

  76. Joseph G

    Heh, just checked out our Sith friend’s site. Many lulz were had. On the down-side, all this content leads me to believe that he is not a Poe at all. I guess with Markuze out of action, there’s a “creepy ranter” vacuum on the intertubes that must be filled.

  77. Grimoire

    Heh, just checked out our Sith friend’s site. Many lulz were had.

    He posted in the latest thread. Geez, what a moron. Didn’t wannabe Sith lords go out with the 20th century? No one seriously gave a crap about the SW prequels. Massive case of arrested development.

  78. Frankly, despite being a troll, Sith Lord *does* have a valid point.

    The feel-good, lovey-dovey attitude towards genuinely nasty people is not healthy. I don’t think Marzuke is crazy, I think he is totally sane and will be found that way by psychologists and psychiatrists. No medication can “heal” him, but it can certainly suppress him. He has been doing this for SIXTEEN YEARS! That is nearly a generation! Half the people he’s been antagonizing have children of their own now, some of them in high school!

    This is an example of someone who is a genuine a**hole. They aren’t casual about it, they never grow out of it, and they don’t apologize for it.

    He’s not someone suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, and from what I’ve been able to glean, he’s not even an Ass Burger. That’s “Ass Burger”, or someone who acts like a total a**hole, then self-diagnoses their horrible behavior as Asperger’s Syndrome by looking it up on the Internet. I’ve run into more than my fair share of both, and yes, medication and counseling *does* help them. They eventually fade away, becoming less annoying and actually productive members of society.

    Get rid of the kid-gloves. Throw him in jail, show up to the trial, volunteer as a witness for the prosecution. Don’t pull any punches, don’t hold back anything, don’t try and conjure up magical myths about how he’s medically defective and needs help.

    People tried to laugh him off, and he escalated. When his computer is examined, we’ll see just how far he was planning to go, and I have total faith that he was planning on going all the way. He’ll get all the help he needs while safely enclosed in a cage, away from the rest of us.

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