SF Public Library
Help me buy robertsore.com.
Friday, March 05, 2004
MARTHA THE MARTYR Martha Stewart is often called a "domestic diva." This alliterative appellation is, I am sure, almost never meant as a compliment. "Diva" implies difficulty; Martha is said to be demanding, abusive, exacting, the sort of woman who will cut you from cuticle to cummerbund for fouling up the temperature of her bath. Martha is, in short, tough as nails. This is not mere rumor; it is substantiated not just by numerous press reports but also by sheer force of logic: Of course Martha Stewart is not nice, of course! Just by the straightness of her smile and the sweet lilt of her voice she built an empire of taste -- does anyone seriously believe Ms. Stewart could have done this while being nice?
But yes, apparently some people do believe that Martha should have been nice. And they believe that Martha's current troubles -- as you must know, she was convicted today on charges of lying to the government during an investigation of insider trading, an investigation that was concluded without finding evidence of such fraudulent trading -- serve Martha right. Martha, it is said, got what she deserved for being a shrew. Were she more pleasant, were she not so exacting, were she not so superior, she would not have been found guilty. Vast numbers of Americans are smilingly thinking this little thought right at this second: If Martha recognized that she was not better than me -- if Martha Stewart recognized that she and I were equal -- Martha Stewart would have found freedom today. As Chappell Hartridge, one of the jurors who convicted Martha, said today, "This is a victory for the little guys ... No one is above the law."
But that is all wrong. Yes, Martha Stewart is not above the law, but neither is she beneath the law. And in this case, Martha Stewart was treated by the government and by a majority of her fellow citizens as if she were below the law, as if being mean -- and, to put a finer point on it, being a mean, famous, wealthy woman -- were itself a crime. This decision is not, as the misguided juror states, a victory for the "little guy" as in the "average citizen." It is, instead, a victory for little guys -- by which I mean small men, men who have no talent and no spine, men who would cower in the presence of a woman as splendid as Martha Stewart. It is a victory for polite: A victory for those who lack confidence, for those full-up with apathy, for the talentless, for those who live by the drab status quo, for everything that Martha Stewart stood against and stood up to change. Martha Stewart is a victim of a society that increasingly values cautiousness over coolness, and the verdict today is a step -- the biggest step so far, but certainly not the biggest step to come -- on the road toward a uniform, saccharine, smiling, hellish society of polite brothers in arms.
This isn't me, but it looks like me.
The library doesn't have those scan machines. And I don't have a camera.
My name is Robert Sore. I am a homeless man in San Francisco, scraping out a living from trash cans and odd jobs. But don't think that I need your pity. If you see me on the street, keep walking, buddy. I don't need your money and I don't need you, in fact -- but I'd be willing to wager that you need me.
I have lived a long time, and I spend a lot of time in the library. A lot of time. I know what's wrong with this world. Why the politicians have it wrong, why the fancy professors have it wrong, why the United States has it wrong. Why the liberals are wrong and why the conservatives are wrong.
But I damn sure know what's right, too. And I'm going to tell you what.