Secret Pop

Mar 5, 2004

Martha Stewart Living

Am I wrong to dread the coming torrent of jokes about Martha Stewart gussying up her jail cell or teaching fellow inmates how to make a proper shiv? She was convicted of all charges. And I can't tell if I'm surprised or not. I guess when someone walks into a criminal trial, it's always fifty-fifty. But I can't help thinking about what certain people said when she was first charged, about how her celebrity worked against her in much the opposite way that O.J. Simpson's did. I don't know how I feel about the criminal justice system making examples of people. I think, generally, I feel pretty down on it. I feel similarly down on the criminal justice system turning a blind eye on good ol' boys who have greased the right palms. And I am cynical and idealistic at the same time about the role of judges in keeping everything kosher -- which leads me to my next big idea: robot judges, and preferably Jewish ones.

I do think Martha Stewart got a raw deal, and I'm not saying that she isn't guilty. I'm just surprised this wasn't handled in a less circus-like manner. And I was wryly amused at how little press the release of Erbitux, ImClone's miracle colon cancer therapy, got when it finally happened. After all, that's what all this hubbub was about. Miracle drug. Shady test results. FDA debacle. And the sad fact was that colon cancer sufferers were seeing remarkable results with this drug, but they weren't able to get their hands on it because of the bureaucratic complications. Now, Erbitux is finally available, and it seems strange and sad and slightly unfocused that no one really cares about that anymore. The fact that Martha's daughter was dating Sam Waksal (or that Sam Waksal seemed, to me, both reptilian and undateable) was just a curiosity. And the likelihood that both Martha and her daughter received inside information is huge. I just think that lots of people trade on inside information without even realizing what they're doing. It's just that if they're like me, they still manage to lose their shirts and the government doesn't take an interest. The government is only interested when you keep your shirt and also get several new ones and perhaps an outrageously expensive handbag (about which who cares really). There was a great article in Vanity Fair about the backstory on this in May of 2002. I read it on the plane to Boston. I think I read that issue cover to cover, and I wished that I had time to do that more often.

I doubt the feds would have gone whole hog after someone with less of a household name than poor Martha. She wasn't even charged with insider trading. They're just hanging her out to dry on obstruction of justice and making false statements -- cases which can almost never be made without the preponderance of evidence coming from hearsay or the word of one person against another. It's not that the dishonesty isn't important -- if it did in fact happen -- it just seems like it's crazy to convict someone for lying about a crime you don't care if they committed. If they didn't charge her with insider trading, what difference did it make to them whether she lied about it? Am I totally outside the park here?

Anyway I wonder if justice will be as deeply hued in the imperious palette of self-righteousness in the outcome of the trials involving Enron and Worldcom and Tyco. If Jeff Skilling doesn't end up making license plates, I don't want a license plate anymore. Okay, so I might need to look into more effective means of protestation.

Last night, my friend Steve was in a bit on the Jimmy Kimmel show dressed up as a girl scout selling an armload of cookies. And I told him that I still have girl scout cookies from last year, possibly even the year before, in my cupboard. I should know better than to ever buy them. I hate supporting causes with my patronage anyway. And I have a feeling girl scout cookies are racist. This made Steve laugh.

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