Saturday, July 17, 2004

Martha & Nelson: Peas in a Pod?

Martha Stewart recently compared her plight to that of Nelson Mandela.  Is this fair to Mr. Mandela?  Does Martha deserve our sympathy?  Our moral outrage?
It seems her prison sentence was based more upon the fact that she lied to Federal investigators than the actual fraud she committed.
There is a general clamor against the prosecution of those like Martha, while more egregious harm done by actual corporate officers goes largely unpunished.  And taking the brunt of the criticism is the Bush Administration.
So why is it that no one is paying attention to the fact that 2001 set a record for investigations and prosecution of corporate fraud cases?  Does the ignoring of that fact make it more or less likely that the criticism is fueled solely by politics?  Or are we merely trying to hold one administration to a higher standard than any other administration in history?
I don't believe that criticisms of the President are necessarily unfounded.  I do believe, however, that attempting to end-run the truth in making criticisms places more emphasis on the politics of the situation, and less emphasis where it belongs.
In this case, the emphasis should be placed on the principle that criminals belong in jail.  Martha Stewart is nothing like Nelson Mandela.  She was not targeted for her political beliefs.  She was prosecuted because she committed a fraud on the people of America.  All of the others who commit these crimes are deserving of the same attention, as well; but if they do not get it, that does not in any way excuse Ms. Stewart for what she did.
That's it.

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