Volume 73, Number 46 | March 17 -23, 2004

Talking Point

Martha Stewart on N. Moore; punishing an ‘uppity woman’

By Wickham Boyle

After she was found guilty on all four federal charges last Friday, a very stoic Martha Stewart made her way in a silvery S.U.V. to her daughter’s penthouse apartment on N. Moore St. Once again, this street, three blocks below Canal, found itself invaded by paparazzi, press vans and hoards hoping to catch a glimpse of a celebrity in crisis.

In a nearly freaky turn of events, the press was now camped out directly across from where they set up shop following the tragic crash of John Kennedy Jr.’s small plane. Again the vans clogged the passage of traffic while photographers hung out eating take-out, and chatting animatedly, all the while keeping a watchful eye on the front door hoping for a glimpse of their catch du jour.

My son and his friends hastily made T-shirts that read “FREE MARTHA” on both front and back. They were sloppily lettered and the color choice wasn’t stunning. In fact, as a crafts project Martha herself probably wouldn’t have been warm to these shirts. But as a newly convicted felon, Martha, I’m sure, would have found some comfort in the instinct of teenagers to offer solace to someone who they saw as being hounded, even to her own door.

I am confused about the outcome and trajectory of this case. I do believe that Martha was targeted because she was an uppity woman who made it big, hell NO, she made it huge and wasn’t very nice to people on her way up. Martha Stewart found out that the platitude chanted to many mouthy girls does hold true: Be nice to those you meet on the way up because you will met them on the way down.

Do they say this kind of thing to aggressive, entrepreneurial boys? But the niceness, the kind karma that Martha was missing is not enough to indict someone for charges as major as these.

The prosecutor said this verdict was for the little people. But in fact Martha’s crime was not a denuding of a pension fund, or cheating on stated income. She made a private deal, whether it was in fact a predetermined sell at $60 per share or an afterthought, her gain impacted only her. Until now. Now her stock is in freefall and anyone, little or otherwise who still holds it, is losing money quickly. Many of the over 550 employees in her corporation may lose jobs as the company contracts. So what about those little people?

A CNN correspondent camped out on N. Moore St. said to me, “WOW, if they did this to Martha what are they going to do to Bernie Ebbers?” (the World Com chief who cooked the books and made so many people lose everything). Perhaps they will execute him.

I am worried that Martha Stewart was made an object lesson because it sends a clear message that the government is tough, but also to say women shouldn’t get too high and mighty.


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