Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Turning in the unabomber

The Unabomber's brother keeps defending his decision to collect $1 million for turning in his brother to the FBI:
In 1996, federal agents descended on a tiny Montana cabin, arresting a brilliant but deeply disturbed recluse, Theodore J. Kaczynski, for a two-decade mail bombing campaign that killed three people and injured 23 others. ...

Yet, in what he acknowledges as a self-inflicted paradox, David Kaczynski keeps the story out there, recounting it in classrooms and churches, to lawmakers and the families of murder victims.

"What would you have done?" he asks.
There was another reasonable course of action. The brother omits some crucial parts of the story.

The Unabomber had promised that he would end his terrorism campaign if his manifesto were published. The NY Times, Wash. Post, and others published it in full. There were no more bombings after that. Turning in the Unabomber gave him the prison sentence he deserved, but it did not save any lives.

The brother could have simply told the Unabomber that he would call the FBI if there was another attack. He brags about his ethics, but he does not explain how what he did was ethically superior to the alternatives.

Strangely, Wikipedia has censored the manifesto, with some nonsensical explanation about copyright. Weird. The manifesto is a brilliant essay, and an important historical document.

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