Montana's Weirdo Fringe (?)
April 3, 2006 7:12 PM   Subscribe

Frontier Myths Meet Reality Ten years ago, two events occurred that thrust Montana into the national spotlight. On April 3, 1996, Theodore Kaczynski, aka "The Unabomber," was arrested in his tiny cabin near Lincoln. This murderer was responsible for mailing package bombs that killed 3 people and injured many more over the span of nearly 20 years. His hermit-like life in the forest went a long way towards many people associating "Montana" with "crazed loners." At the same time, the weeks-long standoff at the Montana Freemen compound ("Justus Township") was entering its second week; it would last until mid-June. The Freemen rejected United States federal authority, tried to create "unique" banking and legal systems, and according to some reports believed in racial superiority. This occurred a few miles away from the tiny community of Jordan, itself one of the more remote towns in Montana. Again, Montana was seen as a haven for rebellious, anti-government, anti-social types, although some didn't think that image was necessarily a bad thing. In the midst of this bizarre confluence of negative events and media coverage, it took another Montana (part-time) resident, David Letterman, to make some humor out of the bizarre situations: Top 10 Things In The Unabomber Cabin, and Top 10 Demands of the Freemen.
posted by davidmsc (19 comments total)
The Pam Anderson sex video is 10 years old already?
posted by furtive at 7:36 PM on April 3, 2006

I bet if you stood in Times Square and asked 25 people who Ted Kaczynski was, 99% of them wouldn't know. If you told them he was the Unabomber, they still wouldn't know that he lived in Montana. And they wouldn't know the Montana Freeman if they fell over them.

Ted Kaczynski was a severly mentally ill man whose problems began long before he hit Montana. If there's any lesson or conclusion to be drawn from this sad saga, it will be taught by Ted's brother David. He just so happens to live in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area of upstate NY. There have been numerous articles about him in the local paper in the last week or so. It's well worth the read. He's a good man. His family are good people. But sometimes shit just happens despite all that.

Bomber's brother, decade later
posted by bim at 7:39 PM on April 3, 2006

Don Nichols will always be my favorite Montana nut case. He has it all.

As someone from Montana, I can confirm that Montana is rebellious, anti-government, anti-social types central. There are few reasons to live there, but being a dangerous loon is one of them. It makes for interesting conversation around the cattle chute.

I'm not sure which story is weirder - My high school history teacher being hacked up by a random ax murderer who happened by his isolated house, or my classmate who died in a hail of bullets "Butch Cassidy" style.

I go back every year for a Celtic fertility festival. I think Butte Montana still has the highest number of Irish Americans outside of Boston.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:40 PM on April 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

Not a fan of being stationed in Montana, huh?
posted by Asparagirl at 7:41 PM on April 3, 2006

Oh, that wacky David Letterman. Who else could deliver charming topical humor about a "Unapoodle" and lovely non sequiters about beauty products? Seriously, does anybody (or did anybody) actually find his top 10 things consistently funny? Or ever? Or am I just humorless and missing the point of an interesting post of Montana crazies?
posted by OverlappingElvis at 7:41 PM on April 3, 2006

posted by bim at 7:44 PM on April 3, 2006

I might be moving to montana soon
gonna be a dental floss tycoon
posted by bukvich at 7:56 PM on April 3, 2006


Well, it's a Sullivan thing more than a Montana thing. But it's telling that the neighbors never call the cops on us.

But seriously. Derail. Don't mind me.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:58 PM on April 3, 2006


Fucking Irish.
posted by dersins at 8:00 PM on April 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

LOL. I ask from the perspective of being f'n Irish.
posted by bim at 8:06 PM on April 3, 2006


posted by homunculus at 8:31 PM on April 3, 2006

Get off m'land!
posted by Afroblanco at 9:08 PM on April 3, 2006

Ted Kaczynski was a severly mentally ill man

Which had more to do with Milgram and Harvard than Montana, if I got it correctly.

I never bought into that link between Montana and those people. It's big sky country, high speed limits and mountains.
posted by nervousfritz at 9:18 PM on April 3, 2006

It was schizophrenia, I believe -- not to imply that everyone with schizophrenia is out to harm people like Ted. I believe there is a college president somewhere who is schizophrenic and functions just fine with medication.

Ted was mailing bombs from Montana, troubled folks push others in front of trains in New York City, people take hatchets and knives to family and strangers all over the country, people mail anthrax from god knows where, people take guns to work and shoot up their coworkers and so on. So nope, it seems to me that craziness isn't unique to Montana.
posted by bim at 9:29 PM on April 3, 2006

The unabomber was right.
posted by kuatto at 10:12 PM on April 3, 2006

I live in neighboring Idaho where we had the misfortune of the Aryan nations stronghold located about 100 miles north of us. I was surprised to find out that so many people world wide knew about the Aryan nations. While traveling in Scandinavia in 1994, I struck up a conversation with our tour guide who asked all of us where we were from. When I mentioned Idaho, she looked at me and said "Idaho, thats where those Nazi's live right?"

It's nice to have gotten those nut jobs out of our state.
posted by Ignition at 1:06 AM on April 4, 2006

I have in-laws in Montana. Enough said.
posted by SteveInMaine at 3:55 AM on April 4, 2006

Around this time mad cow disease in the UK was also hitting the airwaves. As a response to that and the Unabomber/Militia wackos, there was a great fluff piece in the news where entrepreneurs in Montana were selling T-shirts saying, "Montana - At least our cows are sane!"
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:32 AM on April 4, 2006

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