Occupy a Nuthouse

William F. Buckley famously quipped that he would rather be governed by the first 200 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty. I would rather be governed by the roster of the local psych ward than by the pup-tent denizens of Occupy Wall Street.

Is that a distinction without a difference?

It is not so easy to tell the protestors with crazy ideas from the crazies with the protestors. Indeed, New York City cops hauled a 24-year-old occupier to Bellevue Hospital this weekend for evaluation after he scaled a 30-foot sculpture and demanded cigarettes, a coat, the mayor’s resignation, and hiring quotas for bisexual police and firefighters.

Occupy Wall Street? Occupy a nuthouse.

In Portland, a syringe-wielding man threatened to inject the AIDS virus into terrified demonstrators. In Toronto, a young man was arrested for aggressively smelling a woman’s feet and attempting to pass off his bottled urine as an energy drink. In New York, photographers caught a demonstrator defecating on a police car.

Feces, bottled piss, and AIDS-tainted blood is a (the?) recipe for crazy. Don’t dare mention that a mentionable portion of Occupy Wall Street and its satellite protests have men in white coats pursuing them. The same people who labeled the entire Tea Party “racist” for the imaginary n-word yelled at civil rights veteran John Lewis that escaped detection by every recording device at a massive media event now think it’s terribly unfair to judge the lunatic fringe by its fringe. 

Less amusing but more instructive than the outliers are the everyday interactions between activists and the downtrodden they seek to uplift. The humans make it so hard for the humanitarians.

A kitchen laborer who violently objected to fellow Occupy Oakland culinary workers awarding themselves two pieces of chicken instead of the one piece allotted to other camp dwellers found himself surrounded by a mob demanding his banishment. After initially pulling a knife on the posse, the exile returned to the camp with tape covering his mouth as a protest of the protestors’ intolerance. A whack upside the head with a piece of wood ensured his permanent departure. A policeman told the Oakland Tribune that he found it “interesting for a group that claims to be against current civilization and rules to set up a far more oppressive society than our own.”

In Salt Lake City, the homeless are upset that activists squat in the parks where they traditionally squat. The new squatters, in turn, express annoyance at the continued presence of the old squatters. “There seems to be a daily increase in the homeless population staying in the park, as word spreads about the free food, allowed camping, and other conveniences,” reports activist Phoebe Bergvall. “When a woman delivered several pairs of new socks for OccupySLC, an obviously homeless man grabbed for a pair. She stated that while she also helps the homeless, her intention for these socks was in support for the protesters.”

In Boston, the optionally homeless aren’t getting along with the chronically homeless. “They’re getting more than they need and trading it off,” Jackson Bush at the information tent told the Boston Herald. “What we noticed is all the new jackets are disappearing quickly.” Protestors report thefts of clothing, electronics, and other items. “It’s turning into us against them,” thirty-six-year-old Andrew Warner explained to the Herald. “They come in here and they’re looking at it as a way of getting a free meal and a place to crash, which is totally fine, but they don’t bring anything to the table at all. It gets really frustrating.”

Haven’t we seen all this before?

Socialism working for those who don’t; critics of police brutality meting out police brutality; some chicken dinners proving more equal than others; assertions of property rights by people who don’t believe in property rights; would-be saviors scapegoating the would-be saved: this is 20th-century socialism in microcosm.

Advocating principles you can’t live by is surely more insane than scaling a street sculpture to issue a litany of demands. The squad-car occupooer and energy-drink occupeer have nothing on the true-believing occupiers.  

In life, one who mistakes dreams for reality is diagnosed as crazy. In politics, one who mistakes dreams for reality is dubbed an idealist. There’s just no distinguishing between the deinstitutionalized and the should-be-institutionalized at Occupy Wall Street.