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“I feel I have a lot of potential if I can just get my head on straight,” said Beezow, photographed at the Dane County Jail in Madison.

JOHN HART — State Journal

A guy who looks like Jesus walks into a park and gets arrested for having marijuana, a pipe and a small knife.

Sounds like the set-up to a joke, right? But really, most of the media just skipped to the punch line: Beezow Doo-doo Zoppitybop-bop-bop.

Beezow — the 30-year-old Madison homeless man with the funny, self-bestowed name — got arrested in early January and made Anderson Cooper's CNN show soon thereafter, when Cooper made the shockingly unoriginal and baseless observation that a guy who changes his name to Beezow, etc., is probably just looking for attention.

Jimmy Kimmel cracked wise about Beezow never being able to find "one of those mini license plates with his name on it," and multiple newscasting desk jockeys smirked their way through his name with poorly disguised glee.

It took a Sunday story in this newspaper to actually start raising some questions worth asking, such as: How is a diagnosed schizophrenic drawing federal disability benefits who already has been deemed mentally incompetent by one court suddenly deemed competent by another?

Or: As Beezow says he's interested in getting treatment for his condition, but not medication, are there treatment options for the indigent mentally ill other than anti-psychotic drugs?

Hoping for answers, I turned to Beezow's attorney, David Saltzman, who told me what matters most is whether defendants can understand the charges against them and help in their defense in the present — not what's happened in the past.

And Fran Genter, Dane County's head of adult community services, told me "there are some people with schizophrenia who choose to not take medications and still receive treatment."

I don't know who to ask about why it's OK for a court to force someone to take medication against their will — as Beezow was last year — but it's not OK to be in possession of one of the least dangerous recreational drugs known to man.

The questions that most intrigue me, though, are the ones raised by Beezow's explanation of his name, which goes, in part: "the explosion of awareness of the interconnectedness of the infinite love in the universe."

The gobbledygook of a homeless schizophrenic? Maybe.

But he's not the first to draw attention to life's interconnectedness, the realization of which is a chief goal for millions of Buddhists.

And it was love — of God and love of one's neighbors — that Jesus famously ranked as the top two commandments.

It would be trite and irresponsible to suggest Beezow's unusual approach to the world springs from some kind of divine inspiration. God-related delusions are not uncommon in schizophrenia.

But sometimes the message is more important than the messenger.

Interconnectedness and love seem far more worthy of consideration to me than anything I've heard lately from Anderson, Jimmy and all the rest of the less-interestingly named chuckleheads getting a few easy laughs out of Beezow Doo-doo Zoppitybop-bop-bop.

Contact Chris Rickert at 608-252-6198 or crickert@madison.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@ChrisRickertWSJ). His column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

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