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Who Is Matthew Haviland? New Details On The Man Making Threats Against MA College Due To Anti-Abortion Views And Hatred Of Democrats

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Who Is Matthew Haviland? New Details On The Man Making Threats Against MA College Due To Anti-Abortion Views And Hatred Of Democrats

It is not unusual these days to read horrifying stories about people who have become radicalized by right wing punditry and propaganda online. There are more and more incidents of individuals attempting to terrorize those who disagree with them on political issues. We see it in the troubling rise of attacks on houses of worship, such as the shooting as a California synagogue this weekend. In Washington DC, white supremacists demonstrators interrupted a discussion by an author of a book on racism, where they marched around the venue chanting racists slogans. And no one can forget the white supremacist march in Charlottesville that ended with the death of a local woman who opposed the demonstrators.

Now, in Massachusetts, a man has been arrested in connection with a slew of violent and profane threats he made to an unnamed professor. Matthew Haviland sent emails to the professor riddled with violent imagery of murder, torture and rape as he rails against Democrats and abortion. He even went so far as to suggest that the university where the professor works — possibly Harvard — though that is unconfirmed —should be bombed.

It seems likely that Haviland could have escalated to actual violence and it is fortunate the police took the online threats seriously and tracked him down. Court documents show that he was not only making direct threats to individuals, but he had a social media presence that reflected his growing radicalization and was disturbing to friends. This is a rare story of a potential right-wing terrorist who was stopped before he did any physical harm.

Who is Matthew Haviland? Read on for the disturbing details.

1. Journalist

According to the website The Heavy, Haviland is a 2012 graduate of Emerson College in Massachusetts, though he is originally from New Jersey. He now lives in Rhode Island where he worked as a freelance journalist and writer until 2016. His writing credits taper off after that and his now-deleted LinkedIn profile lists his last job as a seasonal employee at GameStop.

Haviland made threats agains a professor.

2. Social Media Presence

Haviland is active on social media sites like Twitter and YouTube where he promoted the works of conservative extremists like Ben Shapiro, Scott Adams, Mike Cernovich and Jordan Peterson. His YouTube channel is no longer available but The Heavy reports that he named his channel “Democrats Dehumanize Developing Humans” and posted videos with titles like “Let’s Vote to Have the Freedom to Kill an Abortion Doctor,” and “Homosexuality Is a Mental Disorder.” His Twitter feed echos the sentiments of President Trump and other right-wing radicals who criticize the media, calling them the “enemy of the people”. In one series of anti-media tweets he said the press is “instigating racism (by trying their hardest to make every white person hate all black people by blasting them with black guilt sentences, saying: "for even being f*cking alive, they must pay a price to this other group of people, in the name of “good faith” and diversity but really just dividing us so starkly it’s not even funny),”

Haviland was a fan of right win social media stars.

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3. Friends alarmed

Haviland’s increasingly unhinged and radicalized posts were alarming his friends, according to documents filed after his arrest. The Heavy reports that one friend told investigators that Haviland’s view on politics have “become more extreme,” within the last year and the friend, “believes this is at least in part because of the way the news media portrays President Trump.” The friend also told police that Haviland’s media posts and text messages have the friend living in fear of Haviland, thinking that Haviland is capable of physical violence. Haviland admitted to leaving voicemails to friends, where in he “spoke of babies being murdered and drew comparisons between Nazis and a doctor who worked at the clinic.” He claimed that he didn’t intend to do anything more than vent but the level of vitriol in the messages has provoked friends to have police check on him more than once. A friend concerned about his mental health sent police to do wellness checks at him home at least five times in 2018 and 2019.

Haviland called for all Democrats to be "eradicated".

4. Professor targeted

At some point, Haviland fixated on a college professor who is allegedly strongly in favor of abortion rights. Haviland sent the professor dozens of emails, riddled with violent threats. He began by addressing the professor's support for abortion rights saying “How about, for example, killing babies? How about this witchhunt society where everyone gets burned at the stake before even asking for evidence, much less getting it. You are the evil and it goes right down to killing babies, and I am fighting against your ideas and your practices and you are fighting against a ghost you invented of us. Fight against ideas, how ’bout that.” In subsequent messages he said “you deserve to have your legs torn off like the f*cking babies,” and the professor deserves “to be ambushed in a hallway and raped until your assh*le bleeds. … You deserve to have your innards ripped from your body and savored over the flesh of all abortion doctors.”

The threats are graphic and terrifying.

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5. Arrest

The emails were sent in late March and it took a month before Haviland was arrested. The US Attorney has charged him with cyberstalking and with transmitting a threat in interstate commerce against the professor, the university and a Rhode Island clinic that provides abortions. The Heavy reports that U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a statement. “As I have said before, this office will take a hard line on threats of violence motivated by politicized issues, regardless of whether those issues arise on the right or the left,” Americans are responsible for what they say, and if they put others in fear for their lives, we will prosecute.” Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division, said in a statement. “Everyone has the right to express their opinion, but when you threaten, harass, intimidate, and put others in fear for their lives, it’s a federal crime.”

It took a month after the threatening emails for authorities to arrest Haviland.

Haviland has been assigned a public defender who has not made any statements on his behalf. He is expected to appear in court on April 29.

Political radicalization and the acts of violence, stalking, and terrorism that can follow is not something to take lightly, as we see from the violent acts that appear almost weekly in headlines. Hate crimes have been rising over the past three years. If someone you know is acting erratically and you fear that person may escalate to violent behavior, do not hesitate to speak with their families or with authorities. 

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.