Posts Tagged ‘Apostolidès’

“Dangerous ideas”: Harrison discusses the Unabomber

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Robert Harrison with Jean-Marie Apostolidès

“The Entitled Opinions show on the Unabomber with Professor Apostolidès received quite a lot of feedback from listeners, not only because of the provocative content of the program but also because it was the first show to be podcast after a three-month summer hiatus, so listeners were eager to welcome us back.  In general the reactions had two main aspects.  On the one hand, there were plenty of comments about our decision – considered gutsy by many — to do a show about the ideas of a convicted criminal.  On the other, there were comments on the ideas discussed on the show.

The first kind of reaction is best summarized by a remark that one listener sent in by email: ‘Daring show. That will shake the jelly in administrative heads.’  Most of the listeners who communicated their reactions applauded us for our boldness.  A minority expressed consternation and felt that Ted Kaczynski may be a brilliant man but that his criminal actions disqualify his ideas from being taken seriously in a public forum of debate.  Why?  Because he used crime as a tactic to draw attention to his ideas, and that by doing a show on him we were ‘allowing him to get away with murder,’ as it were.  While Kaczynski did not get away with murder, there is something valid in this viewpoint.  Professor Apostolidès and I were aware that we were in some sense rendering Kaczynski’s tactics successful, yet it must also be pointed out that few people would want to proscribe, or condemn an academic discussion of, Mein Kampf, even though it was authored by one of the greatest criminals in history.


Harrison at KZSU (Photo by L.A. Cicero)

Many listeners felt that the way we discussed Kaczynski’s ideas was refreshingly fearless.  To quote from one communication we received from a professor of philosophy who teaches at Emory: ‘The content is provocative as all hell, if not disturbing, and delivered without compromise. You were seriously discussing dangerous ideas and it was powerful, if not breath taking. And then to hear this heavy French accent talking about Kaczynski (the unabom-bear) as a writer who achieved the dream of every writer — to have his or her words change the world – was magnificent radio. Incredible show!  Singular! Bravo!’  That’s not the last word on it, to be sure, but it’s good enough for now.”

Robert Harrison, “Entitled Opinions”

What do you think?  Robert Harrison invites comments on the KZSU radio interview, or the article and video.  Leave a reply below.