Read on the New York Times of an interview with Peter E. Bacanovic, the broker who was convicted with Martha Stewart for the ImClone insider trading case. While I don’t want to condone insider trading, the interview illustrated a phenomenon that has bothered me. In our society, if you’re famous enough, your actions have virtually no societal consequences, if any, a gain in fame and monetary awards instead of loss. That’s why Clinton can lie in court and be above the law. That’s why Paris Hilton is looked up to by teens. Oh yes, coming back to Martha Stewart, she did have to go to the white collar prison, but she still had her diva status, had her TV deal (even though it flopped), and retained “a tight grip on the company that she founded”; whereas Peter E. Bacanovic, now imprinted in people’s minds as “Martha Stewart’s broker”, faced the consequences those of us lowly common folks would have to deal with when we commit wrongdoings. In fact, he probably had a tougher luck than most, because his case was made more public due to Martha’s fame.
What is it in our hearts that we, society as a whole, encourage this? Could it be that deep down we want to be these people? We stopped what we’re doing in the kitchen to follow the case when the pictures of Martha Stewart flickered across the screen. People may joke about Clinton’s public humiliation, but one of my coworkers once stated, “Look, all he was doing was what all other leaders in other countries were doing – only their doings weren’t publicized like his. As long as the economy is good, I like him as the president.” Morality is secondary as long as we get what we want: money, stability, or just a juicy story to shoot the breeze with. That’s the law this society is governed by.