At around this time last year Stacey Hessler caught Occupy fever.
The Florida housewife abandoned home, hearth, husband and four children to camp out in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. She was on a mission to save the world.
The self-described “vegan freak” who had been “unschooling” her children: “… proudly identified herself as a midwife’s assistant, roller-derby queen, rock-star musician, dreadlock princess and African-bee keeper.”
Hessler did not just go to New York for a weekend jaunt. She made clear that she was in it for the duration. She was happily going to sacrifice her family to her cause.
When The New York Post first reported the story it cast aspersions on Hessler’s lifestyle choice.
The opening paragraphs of its story were slightly judgmental:
Here’s your mom, kids. Proud?
The hippie Florida mother of four who ditched her children and banker husband to sleep in Zuccotti Park’s squalor hit rock bottom yesterday when she was hauled off in handcuffs, her dreadlocks flying wildly in every direction, for blocking a street near the New York Stock Exchange.
Stacey Hessler, 38, was lifted off the pavement in the center of Broad Street by three cops who slapped plastic bracelets on her wrists and dragged her away kicking and screaming.
“What did I do? What did I do?” she kept shouting.
Writing for Gawker, Hamilton Nolan took serious exception to the Post’s take on the story. Unwilling to judge Hessler, Nolan was happy to judge the Post:
The New York Post, the pandering tabloid of the fascist power structure, has spared no effort chronicling the most important story of the Occupy Wall Street movement: the presence of some hippie lady of which the New York Post does not approve.
One might agree with Nolan that Hessler’s dreadlocks were not the most important aspect of a protest movement. The most important part was that the Occupy movement caused some trouble and accomplished nothing.
The biggest story is that a year later no one remembers it or cares about it. The Occupy movement will go down in history as an especially impotent protest.
But why does Nolan not find anything wrong when a woman voluntarily abandons four children to join a mindless protest movement?
Does he feel nothing for Hessler’s motherless children? Does voluntary child abandonment not register on his moral barometer?
Anyway, Hessler was good to her word. The Occupy movement fizzled and disappeared but she stayed on, the last straggler of an exercise in political futility.
The other day we learned that Hessler had made it official:she divorced her husband and gave up custody of her children in exchange for$85,000 and the right to sleep on the street and eat at homeless shelters.
The divorce agreement stipulates that she can only see her children when they want to see her. Apparently, they are not very proud of Mom.
Again, the New York Post did not paint Hessler in a very flattering light. It did not approve.
Fear not, Hessler still has her friends at Gawker.
Another Gawker writer, not Hamilton Nolan was horrified at the New York Post’s judgmental attitude and responded that, “The Post… [was] predictably enraged at this small showing of personal freedom….”
“… small showing of personal freedom….” That is how the reliably progressive Gawker describes a woman who abandons her home and her children for a moribund cause.
If you will, Hessler has freed herself of all personal responsibility for her family. But should we not see this as a form of child abandonment and child abuse?
Allowing herself to be swept up in a cause, to the exclusion of all else, does not look like freedom. It looks like someone who has lost her mind, taken leave of her rational faculties and sacrificed her children on the bonfire of her moral vanity.
At the very least, it is reprehensible.
At the worst, it is a sign of a nervous breakdown.
If we want to be charitable, Hessler’s exercise of “personal freedom” might well be a symptom of an underlying mental illness.
Unfortunately, Hessler thinks that she is sane but that the world is crazy. She believes that she is fighting for a better world. Gawker thinks she is a martyr for the cause.
Good luck getting her treatment.