Thursday, July 24, 2008

Equal Opportunity Sybil Adelman Sage

It's not only politicians and unfaithful married men who lie. Women have learned they, too, can profit by lying.

A British judge just sentenced a married couple, Anne and John Darwin, to more than six years in prison for faking his drowning death in order to collect $500,000 in insurance payments. They'd staged the death in an apparent canoe accident in 2002, seemingly unconcerned about the grief this would inflict on their two adult sons. The plot started to unravel when the "dead man" walked into a London police station claiming to have amnesia. Among the more serious problems the sons, in their 20's, are likely to be facing is finding suitable Mothers and Fathers Day cards for these parents.

Another lie revealed in today's New York Times is the topic of a new memoir, "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" by Lee Israel, a biographer and editor who spent two years forging over 400 letters purported to have been written by the likes of Fannie Brice, Dorothy Parker and Lillian Hellman. She sold them for $40 each to New York's Argosy Books. Argosy owner, Naomi Hample, would also have to search to find a card expressing the feelings she must have for the woman who cost her thousands of dollars.

And then there are the women who've been forced to lie, the 100 Chinese immigrants working in a Queens sweatshop, Jin Shun, making clothing for the Gap, Banana Republic, Urban Apparel, Macy's and Victoria's Secret, being paid $3.79 an hour, but compelled to tell government inspectors they were getting the minimum wage and to falsify their timecards so as not to reveal their 10 hour shifts and toiling for as many as 120 consecutive days without time off. These women, given their paltry pay, probably aren't spending money on cards.