I don’t like Martha Stewart.
Like so many other average Americans, I detest her cult of celebrity. I find her perfectionism annoying. I, too, would be severely tempted to convict her if I saw her pal Rosie O’Donnell in the courtroom. Her financial support for Bill Clinton, Al Gore and any other breathing Democrat is enough to make me sick.
However, let’s face facts. She’s guilty of nothing. The charges against her amounted to trumped-up nothingness. Unless the conviction last week is reversed on appeal, she almost certainly faces jail time.
This is not right. This is not justice. This is not the American way.
For those of you who haven’t followed the details of the case closely, here’s what really happened.
One of Stewart’s many friends is a man named Samuel D. Waksal, the founder of a company called ImClone that developed a promising cancer-fighting drug. A day before the company announced the Food and Drug Administration had refused to approve the drug, she dumped 3,928 shares of ImClone stock to avoid taking a loss.
Waksal is serving a seven-year sentence on several charges of security fraud related to ImClone stock. Ironically, the FDA later approved the drug – which offers great hope to cancer patients throughout the country.
So what is the big offense that will send Martha Stewart up the river with Waksal? Lying. More specifically lying to government officials.
What did she lie about? She maintained her innocence about stock fraud – a charge she never actually faced because of lack of evidence. But because she said right along that she was innocent, the government tried her on the bogus charge of lying.
What ever happened to the notion in this country that we oppose self-incrimination? Martha Stewart got herself in trouble with her own words – in trying to protect herself, in trying simply to maintain her innocence.
Outside the courtroom, U.S. Attorney David Kelley said all Americans were victims of Stewart because lies to investigators weaken the nation’s law enforcement system.
I hope he was joking. We have judges in this country making up laws. We have judges enforcing unconstitutional orders. We have government officials breaking the law with impunity. Chaos is reigning in the streets of America because of government law-breaking, lies and deceit. So, to set an example, a government prosecutor pursues – at a cost of over $10 million to the taxpayers – this nothing case against Martha Stewart to plaudits of those who relish class warfare.
“When we first indicted this case, we said it was about lies, all about lies,” Kelley said. “As you saw in the evidence, that’s what it was.”
Yes, that’s all it was.
Now, I don’t like liars, but let’s face it: Nobody lies nearly as much as government officials. They lie. They steal. They defraud the American public on a daily basis. Lying to them shouldn’t be a crime, it should be a constitutional requirement.
Let’s recall that Bill Clinton lied under oath while serving as president. He lied in a lawsuit charging him with sexual harassment. But we were told that was no big deal.
Perjury is a much bigger deal – and should be – than lying to a government official.
Yet, the way things actually work, government officials – who should be required to live under a higher standard of ethical behavior than ordinary taxpayers – have some kind of immunity.
The Martha Stewart case is a travesty of justice. The real lesson is that the government can put away anyone it wants, any time it wants.
That’s not a lesson that should give comfort to any American – no matter what our station in life.