Why now; Why me?

I have set up this page as a forum for all who are interested in Leatherman lore and recent news.  My viewpoint on the recent news that his gravesite will be dug up and research performed on his remains is abundantly clear.  I will go on record as having the utmost respect for all the previous folks who have researched the life and times of the Leatherman.  I have been inspired and fascinated by their work.   I too want to know more.   I believe this should be accomplished by continuing to focus energy and resources on re-tracing the steps this intensely private man took in life.   His contemporaries respected his privacy, and so should we.  It is in part because of all the exhaustive work that others have done in the past, that I am so diligent in defense of my position that we should LEAVE THE LEATHERMAN ALONE.

Update 5/3/2011:  I had the chance to reflect back on the past five months in responding to a visitor’s post here yesterday.  Here’s the exchange:

Jon Dubin says:

I’ve just spent several weeks reading through the volume of materials surrounding the exhumation of the leatherman. Seventeen years ago I went to considerable lengths to research his story and interview many of the people who, at the time, were the chief stewards of the Leatherman legend. One of the most intriguing mysteries that emerged was the relationship that those interested in the leatherman, forged with this essentially neutral, identity-less character. This certainly includes myself and now, you, Don, Dan Deluca, Norm MacDonald and so many others. Even this controversy about the exhumation begs the question: whose interests are we really serving? I admit that I’m attracted to the story for the sheer pleasure of a really good mystery. It piqued my curiosity on many levels and rewards anyone that takes the time to really think about it.
On the other hand, your campaign to thwart the forensic arm of this exhumation confuses me. You write well, speak well and your website is very well put-together. Yet you offer no compelling arguments for why a minimally invasive, professionally-guided and respectful forensic investigation should not take place. You don’t seem to be motivated by religious convictions. No one in involved in the project, as far as I can tell, has any intentions of desecrating the remains or disrespecting the Leatherman’s memory. Your website and public discussion of the Leatherman are no less provocative than the exhumation.
I’m not writing this to draw your fire, but your website and campaign seem like a staggering amount of work for a benign issue.
I appreciate your website and enjoyed hearing what you had to say.


  • Administrator says:

    No fire drawn, so thanks for chiming in here. Short answer, I believe that the Leatherman’s DNA is his property, and he went to unimaginable lengths to guard it during his life. Curious strangers should not be allowed to take co-ownership of it 122 years later, just because he’s dead, and they can.

    Example: Some old-timer neighbor of mine has left a 1950’s Willy’s jeep to rot in the woods behind his house for 25 years. When people ask about it, the reply is always simply “Not for Sale”, and a slamming door. I have always secretly wanted the steering wheel off of it. The man dies. A few more years go by, and the house changes hands a couple times, and the jeep is overgrown with brush in the woods. I know the man said “Not for Sale”, but what would be the harm now? I have the tools to do it, he’s dead, he has no use for it anymore, he never said I couldn’t take just the steering wheel, and I have really, really wanted it for years. Should I take it?

    Keep in mind, we’re talking about a steering wheel here, not organic material from the pulp cavity of a private stranger’s wisdom tooth. Does that matter?

    From the start, I’ve tried to keep this site informative and issue based, not personal or too inflamatory. I’m pleased that it has become a spot for people to go to learn more about the guy, I’ve worked hard at that, and thanks for the acknowledgement. Maybe that’s where some of the temperance comes from in my explanations. I’ve heard the same reasoning from Dr. Bellantoni about how minimally invasive and microscopic the amount of material they will gather to perform the tests are. My response to him in person, was 1 milligram is simply 1 milligram too many for me. I am not able to juxtapose the words invasive and benign when it comes to taking anatomical “gifts” from the Leather Man. I really can’t explain why, but it is a feeling which resonates deep within my soul. This leads me to the whole point of this exercise. Do we really need to explain everything to everyone about why we are who we are? We live in a hyper-connected world, in which we are used to being able to know everything we need to know about a topic, or an individual with the touch of a button. Some of that information is protected under privacy laws, and violations of that privacy can be prosecuted, as in the case of identity theft. I believe this man in particular, because of the legacy that he left us, should be afforded that same protection, even 122 years after his passing. If I was alive in 1885 and I found out someone was planning to sneak up on him in the middle of the night to rummage through his bag, or try to read through the personal papers that he carried with him to get clues about his origins, I’m someone who would feel compelled to try to stop them. I might choose the less provocative path of alerting the authorities, or gathering a small group of my own to ask those involved to re-consider. Others might choose the less benign approach and lay in wait to give the intruders a shovel to the back of the head!

    I have tried my best to delineate an argument for why I think this is wrong, while doing so in a professional, respectful manner. Since my initial visceral reaction back in November, I do not believe I have ever used the term desecration. As I researched more details, I adjusted my own point of view. What’s funny is, I’ve actually been slammed for being a religious zealot by some visitors, and an old curmudgeon, just complaining for the sake of complaining about the topic of the day, by others. I guess after reading your post, I can come to the similar conclusion as others have, and that is perhaps I have been too nice, too moderate, and too honest, to effect a change in the course of events here, so what’s the point?

    The other side can use their shovels to dig into his past, but using one to stop them just ain’t my style.

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