On April 23, David Kaczynski—brother of Theodore Kaczynski, the so-called “Unabomber,” who was arrested in 1996—will talk about his infamous brother, the justice system and capital punishment at the Society of Skeptics' annual James Youngelson '53 Lecture on Ethics and Responsibility. He will deliver his remarks in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration beginning at 7 p.m.
Mr. Kaczynski is executive director of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Buddhist Monastery in Woodstock, New York. After the Unabomber’s manifesto was published in the Washington Post in 1995, David and his wife, Linda, approached the FBI with their suspicions that Theodore might be involved in the series of bombings that caused three deaths and numerous injuries. In fact, it was Linda who first suspected David’s brother as the Unabomber and who pressed David to search for the truth following a careful comparison of language and ideas in the manifesto with letters that David had received from his brother over many years.
In ethical and emotional partnership, David and Linda confronted their moral responsibility to stop the violence and ultimately shared their suspicions with the FBI, leading to Theodore’s arrest on April 3, 1996.
Despite his diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, Theodore was charged capitally and only avoided the death penalty after his family convinced the U.S. Justice Department that Theodore’s delusions had precipitated his violent behavior. Subsequently, David formed a close friendship with Gary Wright, who was nearly killed by one of his brother’s bombs.
After leading a successful statewide campaign to end New York’s capital punishment system, David has focused on the work of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty (NYADP), promoting community initiatives that address the root causes of violence. Prior to joining NYADP, David was assistant director of the Equinox shelter for runaway and homeless youth in Albany, where he counseled and advocated for troubled, neglected and abused youth. He has also authored numerous essays, stories and a book of poems.
The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.
The program was an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon.’65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please click here.