There are a number of interesting stories covering the witch hunt the government is pursuing against Martha Stewart. A number of papers are running stories such as "Official Poll: Is Martha Stewart guilty?" and Poll: Majority of New Yorkers think Martha Stewart is guilty. How the hell is Joe Shmoe supposed to know the details of the legal code or what Martha did or did not do? Fortunately, most of the editorials I’ve seen recognize the case for what is is: "U.S. government makes her the subject of a criminal test case designed to further expand the already unrecognizable boundaries of the U.S. federal securities laws." A number of sites in support of Martha have popped up, including Martha’s own MarthaTalks.com and the SaveMartha.com, which features several hilarious clips from her "enemies."
Martha’s own defense has been to say that she is only being prosecuted because she is a successful woman — but I think this take is misguided. Many successful men have gone to jail for insider trading, and Martha’s defense is doomed unless she acknowledges the real motivations of her prosecutors: to inspire fear, uncertainty and doubt into successful businessmen everywhere, and gain political prominence in the process. As the must-read article "Martha Stewart: Political Prisoner" points out,
It is politics, not the pursuit of justice, which is driving this case. Stewart is well-connected politically, but it is to Democrats, who control none of the branches of government at the present time. Her wealth and public persona make her a convenient target of a very political U.S. Department of Justice and of U.S. attorneys who see the example of the Guiliani path to fame and fortune.
I can’t say whether Martha broke the law or not: I’m not lawyer, I don’t know the facts of the case, and even if I were a lawyer, the SEC regulations are vague enough to mean whatever the government wants them to mean in any particular case. What I do know, is that the insider trading laws are a mockery of justice, and that the witchhunt against Martha Steward is only happening because she and Sam Waksal are successful individuals, and in today’s world, success can be a very dangerous thing.