Unabomber News History

Copyright 1995 Denver Publishing Company

Denver Rocky Mountain News

May 7, 1995, Sunday


LENGTH: 581 words

HEADLINE: Many share Unabomber's outlook His avowed hatred of technology reflects growing disillusionment

BYLINE: San Francisco Examiner


In his own lethal, deranged way, the Unabomber is a mirror of his times.

His avowed hatred of scientific and technological trends reflects growing popular disillusionment with science - symbolized, one observer said, by films such as Terminator 2, where the heroine played by Linda Hamilton declares: ''You (scientists) think you're so creative. All you know how to create is death and destruction.''

The mysterious bomber has wrought much death and destruction: Since 1978, he has bombed 16 times, killing three people and injuring 23, including computer scientists, businessmen and a geneticist.

In connection with the bomber's latest attack, he sent four letters. One letter was to Yale University professor David Gelernter, a June 1993 Unabom victim. In it, the bomber derided a book by the scientist that foresaw a highly computerized future. He also expressed his scorn of computers and ridiculed Gelernter for being ''dumb enough'' to open a bomb.

Although horrified by the Unabomber's tactics, a noted American social critic, who insisted on anonymity said, ''The words he's using are uncomfortably close to what many (responsible) critics of technology are using. . . . He's a pretty good writer. I have a feeling he's read a lot of stuff.''

Others are less impressed by the bomber's published defense of his bloody achievements. He is confused, said a computer privacy expert who - like many people interviewed for this story - requested anonymity for fear of attracting the Unabomber's wrath. He ''is using technology to create his 'Unabom.' '' the expert said. ''He is using the very thing that he so strenuously opposes.''

Environmental writer Gregg Easterbrook, whose controversial new book A Moment on the Earth criticizes ''dogged pessimism'' about the ecosystem, sees some universality in the Unabomber's distrust of technology.

''The bomber . . . is clearly a person who has lost touch with the moral grounding of the human race,'' he said. ''But that doesn't mean he doesn't reflect things that are broadly felt in society.''

Those feelings include a fear that technological change, for better or worse, is inevitable and beyond human control - like the Frankenstein monster, stomping across the countryside in quest of victims.

Easterbrook maintains that public opinion can influence technology. He cites the U.S. nuclear power industry: Its growth, once seemingly inevitable, has stagnated from opposition.

Although authorities believe the Unabomber, despite his reference to ''we, '' is acting alone, he's hardly alone in his rage against science. Many blame science and its offspring, technology, for pornography on cable TV, for machines that force people out of work, for weapons that can vaporize cities.

The Unabomber ''mirrors in a strange way the Oklahoma City bombers, in the sense that both of them are trying to set the clock back by 'whacking' it,'' said Stewart Brand. Brand's famed Whole Earth Catalog tries to bridge the cultural chasm between those who adore technology and those who dread it - between those who, say, surf the Internet and those whose VCRs endlessly blink ''12:00-12:00-12:00.''

''It's the rate of technological change that is punishing (to many people), '' Brand said. ''You have to spend more and more of your time just keeping up. For all but a very few, there's the feeling of 'I'm behind and I'll never catch up' . . . a great feeling of being left out, of the world leaving you behind.''

GRAPHIC: Photo This artist's sketch of the Unabomber suspect is based on the description by an eyewitness to the 1987 incident in Salt Lake City. Since 1978, he has struck 16 times, killing three people and injuring 23. Rocky Mountain News file photo.