Musings on Ted Kaczynski

Originally sent Thu, 8 Jan 1998

So I sat down and read the Unabomber Manifesto for the first time recently. I recommend reading it, I think it's exactly what I would have come up with had I spent a couple of years at Berkeley.

And it's no wonder "they" had to kill people to get it published, it's relatively internally consistent, thought out, and written to the be read by anyone. You'd never expect to find that coming out of a well educated person.

"FW" is wrong, of course, because "they" bought into the hopelessness so espoused by modern intellectuals, but "they"'ve certainly thought about it.

But what strikes me most about this situation is that I think that this trial will provide an interesting counterpoint to the cowardice of the McVeigh/Nichols trials. I believe that Ted Kaczynski is "FW", aka "the Unabomber", and that he's willing to take responsibility for his actions if he's given the chance.

I don't believe he's going to get it.

The climax of many novels, Ayn Rand's come to mind immediately, happens when the accused stands in front of the courtroom and speaks compellingly, justifying his actions, exonerating himself, and, despite the law, is acquitted by the jury.

Ted Kaczynski believes himself to be such a person.

I don't believe the jury would acquit him, I'm fairly sure I wouldn't, but we'll never find out, because he's being labeled by the entities supposed to be giving him a fair trial as a loony and he's being prevented from acting in his own defense.

This bothers me.

It bothers me for a couple of reasons. The first is that by dividing those accused of crimes into the "insane" and the sane we've acknowledged that our prison system is not about reform, or deterrence, or even punishment, it's about revenge. The punishment Kaczynski would face if convicted isn't about making sure the crimes don't happen again, or that he doesn't commit those crimes again, it's about revenge.

But even more than that, if Ted Kaczynski did indeed write the Unabomber manifesto, we're confirming all of his fears, making everything he said in his work absolutely true. We've taken any power he has in his future away from him, totally negated his worth as a human. Whether he's guilty or not, as long as he behaves relatively "sanely" (ie: doesn't go off and try to kill someone in the courtroom, an action for which he'd most assuredly be found guilty), his fate is completely out of his hands.

"His" lawyers can argue anything they want, no matter what he wants. He's powerless.

Precisely the justification used in the Manifesto for killing.

I dunno, it's not a terribly well thought out train of thought, it's just left me feeling a little uneasy.

Tuesday, March 3rd, 1998