From dining room diva to court room countess, Martha Stewart has
had a long reign in the media spotlight, and it is doubtful her
name will drop from the newspapers or Kmart tags in the coming
weeks. Last week, a jury put an end to her on-going trial; however,
the punishment has yet to be named. And so begins the next
never-ending, big dilemma turned political debate; does being
famous make one exempt from the full consequences of the law?
Back in 2002, Stewart was caught in insider stock trading
activities. Just one day before ImClone made an announcement that
would cause the stock to fall, Stewart had dumped the stock.
Coincidence? I think not. And the legal system agreed as charges
were brought against Stewart. After avid declarations of innocence,
a jury found Martha guilty on four counts, including conspiracy,
two counts of making false statements and obstruction of justice.
Each of these charges could bring up to five years in prison and
$250,000 fine. Twenty years of dull gray steel bars is enough to
frighten any home decorating fanatic.
Now, cue politics. The punishment set forth by the courts will
be under constant scrutiny, no matter the verdict. In one scenario,
Stewart could receive a jail sentence in addition to a heavy fine.
However, condemning Martha to a life of orange jump suits and
mashed potatoes would cause many to cry about the unfair witch-hunt
that occurred. Her fame, power and money make her a prime candidate
to set an example against illegal trading, hopefully deterring
other insider trading. By creating an example through a jail
sentence, some believe that the sentence will only be used to serve
as a warning to others, and does not genuinely reflect the
consequence necessary for the crime.
Scenario number two reflects a free Martha, with no jail
sentence to her name. This would anger all those who believe that
the legal system is already too lenient with celebrities, once
again riling up those still bitter from the OJ Simpson days.
Both decisions will cause chaos, so which one is the correct
solution? Pending appeals, Martha Stewart should quickly figure out
the best colors to compliment gray and prepare to spend some time
in prison. These are serious crimes that need to be served with a
serious punishment. Her star-status should not allow her to escape
consequences, as it has for so many of her predecessors. A fine
would just imply a simple slap on the hand and is not severe enough
for the situation. However, sending her to jail for 20 years is not
required either. The perfect combination of jail time and monetary
fines would prove that being a celebrity does not make one exempt
from the law, yet does not make her a martyr for the cause.
Sending Stewart to jail may set the precedent for other
celebrity treatment in the world of law and order. Both Kobe Bryant
and Michael Jackson have cases in the courts, and although the
situations are different, the principle of a celebrity in court
remains the same. Hopefully, all three will become celebrities in
their own state penitentiaries, and will prove that criminal
activities breed criminal consequences.
In the meantime, Martha better enjoy using her free time to glue
together pinecones into exotic hanging wreaths because I highly
doubt they will give her a glue gun in the slammer.
Stacey is a senior majoring in marketing. Her column runs every