Stewart made right choice
Martha Stewart, convicted of lying to federal investigators earlier this year about insider trading, has decided to throw everyone for a loop.
On September 15, she announced she would be cutting short her appeals process and serving out a mandated five-month jail sentence, followed by five months of house arrest. According to a New York Times article by Constance L. Hays, Stewart stated that she wished to put the episode behind her as fast as possible in order to ?reclaim [her] good life.?
It is nearly certain that somewhere in America someone is pointing their finger and saying, ?She?s guilty, she?s guilty, nyah-nyah!? Guilty she very well may be. But if that?s not the case, it?s difficult to argue with her logic. An appeals process can take well over a year, and there?s the gnawing risk that it will fail. By the time the ordeal would have ended, Stewart could have completed her sentence and, according to the article, been ?back in time for planting season.?
Early in 2004 Stewart was tried and convicted along with her stockbroker of ?conspiracy,? in which she lied about selling almost 4000 shares of ImClone Systems stock the day before ImClone crashed and burned. The trial became something of a circus, broadcast on national news and parodied on Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show. Jokes about Stewart and the placemats she would be making in jail made their way around the late-night show circuit, and every New York disc jockey seemed to have a running commentary. After the trials of executives from Enron, WorldCom and Tyco, Stewart was just another target. The public took a distinct pleasure in her conviction, however, because of the premise of her company (Stewart has made millions off of being primarily a glorified homemaker) and because of her abrasive personality.
You don?t have to like her. You don?t have to buy her towels. You don?t even have to respect her business. However, there is something to admire in her latest decision. Stewart is setting an example among her fallen peers, the majority of whom have pushed for trials and acquittals ? and they are guilty of far worse offenses. Stewart?s company is beaten but still alive and kicking, and quick action can only help it recover. The burden can also be lifted from her friends and family, whom she reported the most affected by this year?s turn of events.
It is also refreshing to see someone, particularly someone who owns a company worth billions, admit her guilt. While it may be very difficult for Martha to humble herself, and it may not brighten her reputation, it certainly can?t tarnish it further. It truly seems as if Martha has decided to take one for the team.
Furthermore, Martha Stewart is no spring chicken. She?s 63 years old. There are very few self-respecting women in their sixties who are willing to take a year out of their lives to wait on an appeal that may not succeed. As it stands now, Stewart is facing five months in a minimum-security prison in Florida, followed by five quiet months at her home in Bedford, N.Y., during which time she is allowed to work 48 hours a week ? more than the standard work week.
Accepting a sentence such as this may demonstrate her guilt. She may not be the most likeable CEO on the block. But Stewart has decided to accept the consequences and move on, and if anyone faults her for that, shame on them.