Walter McGillicuddy’s only, and supremely effective, defense against the charge of being insane was that he always remained within the bounds of the broad church of sanity.
When he was questioned by the railway police as to why he was tearing up strips of newspaper and throwing them out of the window, he said it was to keep the elephants away. When challenged with the information that there were no elephants in the vicinity, he triumphantly (but politely) suggested that this was full vindication of his strategy.
When he was detained in the process of painting his initials on the roof of St. Paul’s Cathedral, he argued that this was a long standing Australian traditional practice in relation to sacred sites, as evidenced by the plethora of such adornments on Uluru.
He backed up traffic for miles in every direction in the CBD by insisting that a statute that inadvertently remained on the books required him not exceed 4 miles per hour and to be preceded by a man waving a red flag.
He never spent more than $5 at the supermarket and always paid, annoyingly but legally, in 5c coins.
His favorite entertainment was to dress in his very best finery and go shopping in the ritziest establishments, piling up suits, jackets, socks and ties on the counter and then announcing he’d left his wallet at home and would be back shortly.
However, eventually the powers-that-be believed that they had an iron-clad case to have him declared mentally unfit and to have him admitted to an institution. Walter declined legal representation, despite the protestations from the bench, but to the relief of the legal fraternity.
All bellicosity and contemptuous condescension, the prosecution fired their opening salvo.
‘Mr. McGillicuddy, is not true that on the 15th of September 2020, you phoned the Police to inform them that your neighbour, Wilberforce Arnold Nankervis, was having unnatural relationships with his chickens.’
The magistrate silenced the tittering of the multitude with a firm gavel.
‘I did indeed, sir.’
‘And what evidence did you proffer to support this bizarre accusation?’
‘ The squawking at late hours and the fact that he would often appear naked in the henhouse.’
‘Silence!’ pounded the magistrate.
‘And you came by this evidence by what means?’
‘My ears and my eyes, sir.’
‘So at no time did you have surveillance cameras trained on Mr. Nankervis’s back yard?’
‘And at no time did you observe Mr. Nankervis engage in unnatural relations with his chickens?’
‘Your Honour, on the basis of Mr. McGillicuddy’s own testimony, it is apparent that this is an egregious false statement on his behalf and I recommend a full psychiatric assessment before sentencing is pronounced.’
With only a feigned interest in his response, His Honour raised an eyebrow and said ‘Mr. McGillicuddy?’
‘Your Honour, it is a proven fact, according to many on the Internet, that the White House is run by shape-shifting reptiles presiding over a ring of paedophiles, that Covid-19 is a fake to convince citizens to accept a vaccine developed by Bill Gates to enslave them and that the moon landing never happened. I put it to you that not a single person has ever been charged with making a false allegation in relation to these matters so that their ‘evidence’ can be tested in court. Therefore it is my contention that requiring me to produce physical evidence that my allegations are correct represents institutional persecution and a violation of my rights as a citizen to assert anything I please.’
The magistrate’s imminent retirement to his beach house loomed large in his mind and he needed this case like a hole in the head.
‘Case dismissed! Next.’