One of the reasons I started souring on liberalism a long time ago, was its insistence that manifestly crazy people couldn’t have their civil rights infringed by institutionalizing them. (And yes, I know de-institutionalization started out from both the political left and the political right, but by the 70s, the Left, especially the ACLU, owned it.) I thought it was an insane policy because people who are paranoid and delusional might not be capable of making smart decisions. If you think you’re being attacked by Martians, it might make sense to you to eat out of garbage cans, never bathe, drink and do drugs, and live on the streets, periodically attacking bypassers who might be those Martians.
Aside from being insanely cruel (pun intended) to people incapable of caring for themselves, the policy has been dangerous for others. Here is just the most recent case in point:
A homeless man with a history of violence has been arrested for allegedly attacking a stranger on Market Street who died hours after being assaulted, San Francisco police said Monday.
Matthew A. Adams, 38, was found dead Saturday night in his room at 1169 Market St. by his girlfriend.
The woman told police that a man attacked Adams without provocation as the couple were walking near Seventh and Market streets at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, said Lt. Mike Stasko of the police homicide detail.
Adams refused medical treatment at the scene, police said.
“He said he was OK,” Stasko said, “and he walked home from where he was assaulted.”
Adams’ girlfriend left later that morning. When she returned to his room about 8:30 p.m., Adams was dead.
The man who attack Adams was a murder waiting to happen:
Stasko said Holloway has a history of attacking people on the street without provocation. He also has a long criminal record in Los Angeles and San Francisco for theft, drug offenses and public intoxication, the lieutenant said.
In March, police arrested Holloway on suspicion of felony assault after he allegedly hit another homeless man in the leg with a baseball bat and slammed a can of beer into the side of his head, authorities said. The district attorney’s office dismissed the case because the victim was unavailable to testify against Holloway, records show.
Holloway was arrested again later in March on Sixth Street for allegedly carrying a concealed weapon, but prosecutors discharged the case “in the interest of justice,” records show.
In May, Holloway was arrested on a domestic violence charge stemming from an incident at Turk and Taylor streets in which he allegedly stabbed a former girlfriend in the hand in a dispute over $30, records show.
I know that what we, as kids, used to call “insane asylums” were often horrible places, in which the inmates were neglected and abused. Still, some inmates were there for very good reasons — both for their own protection and for society’s safety — and it would have made infinitely more sense to improve the asylums, rather than to do away with them altogether. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.