#039;Free Martha#039; should be the rally cry

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Free Martha. Even in the face of a prison sentence, Martha Stewart comes up a winner in my book. I admire the fact that she took a bad situation and made it better by beginning her five-month term early. She could have remained free until her appeals were exhausted but she chose to go ahead and do the time.

She recently announced that she would do her time in order to reclaim her life.

"I want to put this nightmare behind me as quickly as possible for the good of my family and my company," Stewart said in a letter posted to her Web site.

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So last Friday, with a media orgy at its gate, the usually outspoken Stewart went private by slipping into prison early.

Desperately, irate journalists who missed their chance to ogle Stewart, 63, on her way to the cell, turned ugly. On Saturday, Americans read detailed accounts of Stewart’s cavity search and hints that some inmates could turn violent on her.

Is Martha a criminal? Yes, under the law. Did she do it? According to a jury she did and I have to trust the jury because I wasn't there. I'm not condoning the act.

In fact, she deserves some punishment for her behavior.

It is a comeuppance for her. No whining allowed.

But that's the thing I like about Martha. She's not a whiner and she's not a quitter.

I don't own anything she promotes because there isn't a K-mart near here for me to buy it.

I don't subscribe to her magazines; I can read the same type stuff through our news services here. To be honest, I'm no big Martha Stewart fan.

I will admit I've watched some of her cooking segments and made a great Harlem baked chicken that was a hit with everyone.

If she's a "witch," as some people have made her out, I don't know it because I don't know her. Maybe she is just evil, evil, and evil to her employees.

I don't know that because I'm not one.

But with those published traits there is no one commending her for being a talented person and for being business savvy.

What is wrong with those traits?

Don't you wish that you had her flair for turning straw into gold?

Do we badmouth Oprah when she cuts a deal with Pontiac to give away over 200 new cars?

People would revel in her downfall.

Of course this mentality is not new with the Stewart case. Americans are equal-opportunity offenders. Nothing gets our mouth salivating faster than when the mighty fall.

Are we jealous?

I think so and it is one of our worst traits.

Back to Martha.

It makes no difference what you think of the Queen of Domesticity, it could not have been easy for her, nor would it be for us all, to leave behind considerable creature comforts, family, friends, pets and work.

In a nutshell, she left behind her life by trading it in for a bunk bed, no privacy, no control and a job that will pay her at best 12 cents an hour.

It makes no difference that you are, making a decision to surrender your freedom and comfort can't be made easily. Her decision to go ahead and serve her time seems rather courageous to me.

Not on the same level as those who fight in a war, but on a lesser level.

I know, as many others do, that she'll survive the incarceration and before long you'll see a headline proclaiming that she is free and that she has sold her memoirs for an unbelievable sum.

By next summer, that book will be the top seller around the world.

By next fall, Martha Stewart will be Martha Stewart once more.


It's simple really.

The only thing American's like better than a powerful person in misery is a powerful person who fell, but has been redeemed.

Hopefully by then, others who have made far more money than Martha will be in the pen.

Maybe Osama Bin Laden will be captured.

Who knows, O.J. might see this strong willed woman in jail and break down and confess to the murders from so long ago.

That would be good considering that the most heinous crime Martha may have committed was trying to decorate America's living rooms and teach some pretty bad cooks how to make something better.

Jay Thomas is the managing editor of The Greenville Advocate.

He can be reached via phone at 334-382-3111, ext. 136 or via email at jay.thomas@greenvilladvocate.com