What’s hilarious is that the protesters themselves are getting a lesson in why private life matters. When an enterprising WBZ-TV reporter, Ken MacLeod, started tracking down the Boston protesters who shut down the freeway and found them at their homes — often their parents’ homes, mansions in Brookline — he was accused of “harassment,” told “I need you to leave our property immediately,” etc. Which is to say, the protesters, having inserted themselves into public affairs, wished to enjoy the courtesy that they refused to extend to those who hadn’t inserted themselves into public affairs. When it comes to dopey Trustafarians, there’s more that’s tangled than their hair.
During the Civil Rights Movement — the real one, not the ersatz one led today by Jesse Jackson et al. — politics did genuinely intersect with brunch. On one side of the issue were people who argued that the social situation of African Americans at the time was so dire and so oppressive that invasive federal action was necessary. On the other side were well-intentioned conservatives such as Barry Goldwater and any number of writers for this magazine, who argued that if the reach of Washington were extended into every mom-and-pop diner in the country, it would constitute a step toward the abolition of private life, that the natural and inevitable extension of the principle at work would ensure that rather than being treated as private property, businesses reclassified as “public accommodations” would be treated more like public property, that the greasy snout of politics eventually would stick itself into every last precinct of what had been considered the sphere of privacy beyond the public sector.