The federal government should be forced to sell the writings and personal photographs of Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski and give proceeds to his or return the material to him for donation to the University of Michigan, a federal magistrate judge ruled yesterday, reports the Sacramento Bee. The university wants the materials for its research library of social protest, says Kaczynski attorney John Balazs.
Kaczynski holds master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics from Michigan, and one of his bombs, targeted at someone else, injured a graduate student there in 1985.
“Lurking in the background is the United States’ seeming implicit desire to remove Kaczynski’s ideas from public view, in whole or in part,” said Magistrate Gregory Hollows. “The court will not permit Kaczynski’s ideas to be censored, or otherwise kept from public view, no matter how bogus they may appear to the undersigned or others. That some may find an idea offensive does not shield the idea from First Amendment protection.” U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. must decide on Hollows’ opinion.
The 61-year-old Kaczynski, a Harvard graduate, mathematics prodigy and self-styled philosopher, believes that the economic consequences of the industrial and technological revolutions have undermined the world’s system of rewards and values, resulting in a suppression of individual freedoms and independence, the Bee says. He employed homemade bombs to maim and kill people chosen according to their fields of endeavor.
In a plea agreement, he admitted in January 1998 that he was the serial bomber who set off 16 explosions that killed three people and injured 23 others between 1978 and 1995. He is serving a life sentence without parole at an federal prison in Colorado.
Information from his family led investigators in 1996 to a one-room cabin in the Montana woods where he had lived for 25 years without plumbing or electricity. Capture of the Unabomber — so-called because early targets were affiliated with universities and airlines — ended an 18-year manhunt.
Kaczynski filed a motion seeking return of his property last June. When he was sentenced, Kaczynski was ordered to pay his victims $15 million in restitution. Prosecutors argue that the restitution order gives the government a lien on all of his property.