My wife introduced me to Martha Stewart some years ago, and I became a fan. I owe many good dinners and miscellaneous household improvements to Martha. So I was sympathetic when she was criminally prosecuted. Her prosecution paralleled Scooter Libby’s, in that she was indicted for misleading investigators who were looking into a purported crime with which she was not charged.
Martha never would have been prosecuted but for her symbolic value, but her case is just one instance of a much broader and more sinister phenomenon: the criminalization of just about everything.
Totalitarian states typically ensnare their citizens in a web of contradictory statutes and regulations which no one can fully obey, and still function. Thus, everyone is a criminal, and who goes to jail is entirely discretionary with the state. We are not there yet, of course, but there is an ominous trend toward criminalizing conduct which is barely distinguishable from normal business activity.
This is the subject of Glenn and Helen’s latest podcast:
We’re joined by Professor Ellen Podgor and talk not only about Martha Stewart’s legal troubles, but about the Sarbanes-Oxley bill, white-collar crime, and the criminalization of nearly everything.
Check it out.