where the writers are
Justice v Mercy

I am meant to be writing a two page film proposal to outline what I see are the main themes for my film. But mind is elsewhere, news just in that American Express, which prides itself on avoiding deadbeat cardholders is losing money because ahem, their "exclusive" members can't pay and a piece on the vile retribution that some of the "victims" of Madoff's scheme are seeking. This is all vaguely familiar, went I went down in May 2005 in a picturesque bonfire of flames for THEFT ( not fraud, I think fraudsters are much cleverer, they probably get away with it longer too) and Perverting the Course of Justice which is a fancy way of saying lying, I tasted the vituperative desire for vengeance, albeit on a smaller scale. Well actually it made the front page of the Metro on the day I was sentenced, and got some equally ridiculous front-of-paper position in the New York Times, all the usual boll*cks they love to write about ex-socialite - editor-millionaire's daughter etc etc. You know the rant...and although now I don't read what is written about me, good or bad, because I have made my peace with what I did ( and done my time, thanks ever so much ) I can't help but feel some compassion for Bernie Madoff. No, I am not in need of more therapy but I think as a society we just jump to judgements too fast, I know I do. But how is throwing him in jail for 150 years going to help anyone? Most of the money, the billions and swillions he flourished from Florida to New York through his Social Set network is gone. Cars, houses, designer garms, even if they auction his whole life on E-Bay once the greedy administrators are finished with him, there's going to be nothing left for his "victims." You know in life no one is ever really a victim of anyone. The people who took part in his elaborate Ponzi scheme were the affluent and intelligent. If something looks too good to be true, as I have said before it probably is. These zillionaires were advised to go into this pyramid scheme by financial advisors and they are no-one's fools...the returns of 10 - 12% in a year were phenomenal, and it was basically legalised daylight bank robbery. Although given the current situation there's little sympathy for the institutions which were defrauded. Justice and Mercy are two of the themes in my book, it's like walking barefoot on a samurai’s sword, because one degree too far to either the left or to the right and there's the chance that you ( or the subject) could be fatally impaled. Every day, every hour and minute is a series of choices , how we feel, our moods, our actions, our thoughts even, we choose between Justice and Mercy. We judge ourselves all the time too, that little voice in the head that tells us we aren’t good enough / thin enough / clever enough. It is rarely tempered with mercy. We’ve all done things, perhaps not to the scale of your truly or Mr Madoff, but who are we to cast judgement? We don't wear the wigs, we don't have HHJ in front of our last names, we aren't pure and free from having done illegal things, only 2% of crime is ever detected in the UK so there's a lot of people walking about knowing they aren't exactly squeaky. What's more important is to see the link between crime and where society fails. People like me and Mr Madoff acted against the rules that we are meant to live in. It's taken me the best part of forty years to figure out why I did it and to choose not to live that way, but there’s a relationship between what I did and the people I did it to ( actually in my case it was credit card companies but some might say that is actually every one who has a card because then the companies justify raising rates etc). Why did Bernard Madoff do what he did and get away with it for so long? Society creates the monster, from the deficit ingrained in us, through mass media and the constant yardstick of expectation which no one can ever measure up to. The we get all indignant, upset and "betrayed" when the monster comes to lurk in a corner of one of our homes. Rather than a huge and useless jail sentence during which time he will surely die anyway, wouldn't it be better to make him share some of his amazing skills with underprivileged kids from bad neighbourhoods? To make him work in a soup kitchen? Put him in a modest house in a modest neighbourhood where he has the chance to recontextualise and build a life in which he can do some good. I find it hard to feel sorry for the wealthy victims of his crimes, they seem to have been parties to the whole affair, greed is not a good vantage point from which to act, I feel sorry for all the kids who won't benefit from the amazing mind of this man. Imagine with that kind of self belief and charm, he could sell crude oil to the Arabs. A little self-confidence in the lives of some of these ghetto ( black and white) kids would go so far. I'm not saying let him lose amongst vulnerable and underprivileged sections of our society, rather make him see and feel first hand what is like to NOT have any of the advantage or privilege that he came from, and let him have a hand in building better futures for kids he would never ever have met in a million years before. Something good always has to come out of something terrible. Madoff has ruined his own life, what else can he do and say but sorry? It's up to us, as a society to come up with a creative solution which will help him change in a positive way, punishment and prison cells aren't the answer in every case.