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Ever since Bernie Sanders announced his campaign for president, journalists have been poring over his writings from late 1960s and early 1970s Vermont, some of which have raised eyebrows.
As we’ve noted previously, Sanders back then wrote pieces in alternative media floating such proposals as legalizing all drugs and ending compulsory K-12 education -- positions he no longer holds.
But we hadn’t heard the quote attributed to him in an Internet graphic that a reader sent our way. Superimposed over a photograph of Sanders, it said, "Instead of removing the conditions that make people depressed, modern society gives them antidepressant drugs. In effect, antidepressants are a means of modifying an individual's internal state in such a way as to enable him to tolerate social conditions that he would otherwise find intolerable."
We asked the reader who sent us the image for the original source, and he sent us to a personal page on Facebook. That page alone reported more than 9,000 shares and 1,000 likes for the Sanders image.
But did Sanders really say (or write) this? We took a closer look.
A quick Google search provided an answer. Those words were actually written by Theodore Kaczynski. Kaczynski was arrested in 1996 and accused of sending mail bombs to universities and airlines that resulted in three deaths and 23 injuries over two decades; he pled guilty and is now serving four life sentences.
Kaczynski was captured after he sent a 35,000-word "manifesto" to the Washington Post and the New York Times in 1995, saying he would commit another bombing unless it was published in full. On the recommendation of the attorney general and the FBI director, the Post published it as a supplement to the newspaper. Its publication is credited with breaking the case, after Kaczynski’s brother David recognized the writing style and arguments in the manifesto as his estranged brother’s and informed the authorities.
Here’s a portion of the manifesto, archived on the Post’s site:
"Instead of removing the conditions that make people depressed, modern society gives them antidepressant drugs. In effect, antidepressants are a means of modifying an individual’s internal state in such a way as to enable him to tolerate social conditions that he would otherwise find intolerable."
The wording is identical to what’s in the graphic.
To their credit, a number of commenters on the original Facebook page figured out that the quote was actually by Kaczynski.
The Internet graphic says Sanders said, "Instead of removing the conditions that make people depressed, modern society gives them antidepressant drugs." He didn’t -- Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, wrote that in his 1995 manifesto. Pants on Fire!
Internet graphic sent to PolitiFact, originally posted Oct. 2, 2015
Biography.com, biography of Theodore Kaczynski, accessed Oct. 15, 2015
Washington Post, The Manifesto, accessed Oct. 15, 2015
PolitiFact, "Fact-checking a viral graphic critical of Bernie Sanders," Sept. 22, 2015
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