Dennis Markuze, the mentally ill Canadian megatroll who has apparently spent the better part of his entire adult life calling himself "David Mabus" and sending death threats and wild online tirades to the inboxes, blogs and Twitter feeds of countless atheists, scientists and anyone else who ends up in his crosshairs of crazy, is in deep, deep feces.
In Canada, it is a criminal offense to make such threats, and, in a key distinction from U.S. law, it is not necessary for a person threatening someone's life to present a realistic likelihood of actually carrying out the act. Some may consider that a troublesome free speech wrinkle, but there's a big difference between expressing an unpopular, even repugnant point of view, and telling someone you're going to decapitate them and murder their family. A violent death threat is not a "point of view." I went through our ban code just now, and counted no fewer than 37 bogus Google ID's that Markuze had created to comment here. And he actually didn't hit us nearly as hard or as copiously as he has targeted many others!
Markuze now faces up to 16 counts, and has been remanded to psychiatric evaluation. With luck, it will be determined that he is, in fact, crazier than a shithouse rat, and a long stretch of institutionalization will begin. The dude is broken, and he needs fixing, not a hard prison term. But at least the online godless and scientific community can breathe a little more easily, knowing that probably the most vexing source of irrationality we've been facing this side of Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann has finally been dealt with. It's a testament to the power of online collective activism giving torpid law enforcement the kick in the butt it sorely needed to do their jobs properly. After all, Markuze had been a menace for years, and been reported for it, all to complete police indifference. Finally, enough was enough, and the matter was at last taken seriously, without circumstances having to end up with Markuze finally becoming the next Jared Loughner, and someone ending up needlessly dead before anything was done about it.
PS: Since PZ and some other bloggers have already faced a kind of backlash for talking about Markuze in conjunction with words like "crazy" and "mentally ill," I think it behooves us to note that, of course, Markuze is not the poster boy for all people everywhere who suffer from one form of mental illness or another, most of whom are non-violent and pursuing treatment while doing their best to live normal and happy lives like all the rest of us. While I cannot deny a tiny bit of schadenfreude that this creep has gone down, to be fair, Markuze's internal demons must simply be devastating. Hopefully the fact they've gone untreated for so long won't make it impossible for him to respond to the kind of care that will allow him to have, someday, a little bit of peace in his empty existence at last.