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May 2001


     In 1978, a compelling personal saga began, and a revolutionary political thinker exploded onto the American scene. But the road to greatness wasn't easy. A vast law-abiding conspiracy--eventually encompassing even his own brother, in an act of betrayal that must have wounded Ted Kaczynski deeply—tarred him as a lawbreaker and a killer, and feathered him as a nutcase. But many others found in Kaczynski a man who said the things that nobody else would say, and did the things that most people are too cowardly or conformist to attempt. 
     The man who became Ted Kaczynski possessed an early preciousness for public service and controversy. And his talent for both certainly has not waned. Before the national spotlight began to magnify his every foible, Kaczynski served the children. He founded the Kids' Recycling Club of Montana, and introduced a pioneering program called Science Experiments You Can Do At Home, which trained parents to work with their children in munitions preparedness. But by the time the man they nicknamed the "Unabomber" entered a maximum-security correctional facility, he was stained by scandal. His conduct touched off an investigation into his spate of postal bombings, culminating in an FBI manhunt. He has been in prison since 1996, but he has not stopped thinking and contributing to society.
     All of this makes the postal bomber's selection as Class Day speaker for the tercentennial Class of 2001 so bold and laudable. Americans, and presumably, Yalies, remain deeply riven over their feelings about him. He is an avatar of the modern environmentalist, balancing family troubles, political involvement and a demanding manifesto-writing career. He is also a symbol of the cycle of terrorist attacks--Timothy McVeigh, Osama bin Laden--that has defined the last eight years, rightfully so or not. Few would disagree, no matter where they fall on the Kaczynski spectrum, that he remains America's most prominent bomb-mailing political leader. 
     For those reasons, he makes an ideal Class Day speaker. He is as complicated and conflicted as the world graduates are about to enter, and he will likely speak to the ethical, political and personal dilemmas that have bedeviled him throughout his public life. He will also likely speak to a lifetime of public service.
     Kaczynski also, of course, bombed a professor at our own Yale College. Thus his connection to Yale is notable but unimpressive. It is his record of service and incredible public saga that make him a sound choice for Class Day speaker.
     Love him or hate him--we can all agree that Ted Kaczynski acted on his beliefs, never considering the
personal cost to himself or his victims. What better lesson can a Class Day speaker impart?
Paul de Man says, "Those whom Yale honors have the true mark of greatness."
The Yale Free Press says, "We are endlessly astounded by the inability of the Yale community to appreciate satire." 

Sponsored by Al Gore 
and the Committee for Liberal Reform.
The Yale Free Press is published by students ofYale University. 
Yale University is not responsible for its 
contents. By the same
token, The Yale Free Press is not responsible for the contents of Yale



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