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What to Make of the Unabomber Auction? And What Should I Do With My Own Unabomber Artifacts?

(Stephen J. Dubner)

It seems so coincidental that I wonder if indeed it’s a coincidence: the FBI requests a DNA sample from Ted Kaczynski, a.k.a. Unabomber, just as the government’s court-ordered auction of Kaczynski’s possessions gets underway (it closes on June 2). The FBI is still trying to solve the 1982 Tylenol poisonings, and Kaczynski is presumably a person of interest.
If nothing else, the news has brought a lot more attention to the auction. It can use it. As of this writing, most of the 58 items could be had for a few hundred dollars. Exceptions are Kaczynski’s Smith-Corona typewriter ($8,025) and his hand-written Manifesto ($16,025).
I am surprised at the low prices — but I was also surprised that this auction was held in the first place. I know the money is meant to go toward a restitution fund for the victims but a) it looks as if the total amount raised will be relatively small; and b) am I the only one who feels it’s a bit tawdry for the U.S. Government to sell off the possessions of a convicted terrorist to raise cash?
Please feel free to disagree with me.
Also: as the lone mainstream journalist to have interviewed Kaczynzki — I wrote an article for Time in 1999 after spending a few hours with him at the Supermax prison in Colorado — I possess the sole copy of those audio tapes. Should I be auctioning them? And if so, where should that money go?