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Archive for Friday, May 1, 1998

KILLERS YOUNG AND OLD

May 1, 1998

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Theodore Kaczynski and some of the younger murderers in our society seem to share common denominators -- pent-up rage and revenge.

There are many variations on the old theme of ``Pay me now or pay me later.'' One of them shows the Grim Reaper with a scythe poised over the head of a youngster beginning to smoke cigarettes, for example.

One can use the same kind of comparison, apparently, between sociopath Theodore Kaczynski and American youngsters who go on killing rampages at schools and parties. There are some among us who are ticking bombs that are going to erupt fatally somewhere along the line; it's just a matter of time, and nobody can be quite sure when it will happen.

Kaczynski plotted killings years before his first Unabomber attack, fantasizing about victims ``merely from my desire for revenge,'' according to several sources close to the case. Prosecutors contend the Unabomber was driven not by his hatred of technology, as some have led us to believe, but by his basic hatred for people. Kaczynski's lawyers, of course, contend he is mentally ill. But there is growing evidence that the former California mathematics professor was mentally alert, even brilliant, yet a calculating killer who simply was seeking out victims.

He already was writing about killng when he was a graduate student at the University of Michigan in 1966, prosecutors say. He later taught at Cal-Berkeley and moved to Montana in the early 1970s, from where he apparently devised his murderous mail schemes.

``I acted merely from my desire for revenge,'' Kaczynski wrote in April of 1971. ``I believe in nothing. . . . I don't even believe in the cult of nature worshippers or wilderness worshippers.'' As the Unabomber aged, his anger increased, spurred not by ``hot rage, but by a cold determination to get my revenge,'' he wrote.

Kaczynski is now 55 and efforts are afoot to put him behind bars for life rather than inflicting capital punishment. But there is every evidence he was a cold-blooded killer who fits into the ``murder for fun or profit'' category many contend should produce execution.

In many ways, there is little difference between the Unabomber and the 11- to 14-year-olds who go on killing rampages these days -- except that Kaczynski was much older and should have been more mature. Yet rage and resentment factored heavily in all their actions and if the children in the recent spate of killings had not wreaked havoc now, they might well have done so later, as did Kaczynski. One young mass killer reportedly had been rejected by a girl he fancied; another was a loner who felt out of place. Whatever the reason, all sent innocent people to early graves to satsify some personal feeling.

The frightening aspect of all this, of course, is that there are many others among us with similar mindsets who might well erupt in death and devastation at a time when there is far too much focus on protecting killers rather than the people they so deviously prey upon.

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