I’ve been thinking about Michael Kopper lately. I think he serves a bigger purpose than just part of the narrative of Enron. I think he played the game particularly well by using the bigotry and stupidity that is Texas and federal law to his advantage.
Michael Kopper’s boyfriend kept the proceeds from Kopper’s challenged transactions because they were not married. They could not get married because the state of Texas and the federal government would refused to formalize their relationship. But Kopper acted exactly like anyone would expect a husband to act: he shared his earthly belongings with the person he chose to spend his life with.
I am sure the federal government was pissed about that. They could punish him in a lot of ways – sending him to prison, for instance – but their own rules made it impossible for them to punish him financially. He could give his money to anyone he damn well wanted to, and since his boyfriend was never accused of doing anything wrong, the DOJ had no recourse but to suck. on. that.
Compare that to other Enron execs who saw their financial lives crumble because they were legally married and the money was considered joint property. I am thinking of a particularly vulgar instance in which the DOJ forced Ken Rice to sell some of his wife’s jewelry — that seems disgustingly petty to me. But Kopper didn’t have that problem because he was, legally speaking, a single man.
Texas and the south in general are squeamish about sex; they’re worried that if two men marry, they might actually, you know, do it. Did you know that sex toys are illegal in Alabama? There are people terrified of orgasms (regarding the sex toy ban, I think they’re terrified specifically of women’s orgasms – like we all might take up jazz and liquor if we’re exposed to them.) They’re obviously trying to preserve something there. My thinking is that they are terrified the ladies might like things that hmmmmm and might realize the fat jerks who burden them with three minutes of silent sex on Tuesday evenings after the children go to bed are, in fact, rather lazy and bad lovers.
That’s my guess. I could be wrong. Maybe there’s some medical reason women shouldn’t have orgasms. Likewise, the thought of men marrying and having sex seems to fill the Powers That Be with fears that, I dunno, maybe everyone will turn gay! Chaos will ensue!
So anyway, Texas, like most states, has a “don’t ask to get married and we won’t burn you at the stake policy” toward gays, which brilliantly allowed Kopper to shrug and saw, “fine with me, motherfuckers.”
Don’t hate the player, hate the game.