THE BLOG
07/24/2012 11:00 am ET | Updated Sep 23, 2012

Shakespeare in the Freeh Report

"Rustics" are those simpletons in Shakespeare's plays who provide humorous relief. At the same time, their lack of sophistication allows them to utter the straight truth that other characters dance around. "Rude mechanicals" are louts and oafs who blunder about blurting out similar truths.

Cue the janitors "A" and "B" (Freeh should have called them Hugh Oatcake and George Seacoal), rustics featured in the Freeh report who saw Sandusky having sex with children. "Fearing that they would be fired for disclosing what they saw, neither janitor reported the incidents to University officials, law enforcement or child protection authorities."

I know -- every single Huffington Post reader would have immediately rushed to the police with the horrid tale. Consider these comments on an earlier post of mine, "Blaming Mike McQueary," concerning the scandal:

  • "The fact that you can seriously ask this question is quite damning of you(!). I cannot think of any universe in which if I saw a grown man sodomizing a child I would not call the police, after first rescuing the child."
  • In re this comment: "I agree that most people would not have intervened, especially if there was any doubt about what they were witnessing," RN wrote, "Are you freaking kidding me? I tell my son to hang up the phone and try to stop it while I CALL 911 and then drive to the scene of the atrocity."
  • "You are blurring the line between reporting actual rape and reporting suspected abuse. You still have not identified one other instance in which a person has personally seen a pre-pubescent child being raped and not called the police."
  • "Why didn't he call 911? They would have sent the call to the local police who have jurisdiction, i.e., Penn State police."

and so on.

Here were the thoughts of those cowardly rude mechanicals, however:

Janitor B [that would be George Seacoal] explained to the Special Investigative Counsel that reporting the incident "would have been like going against the President of the United States... I know (the late football coach Joe) Paterno has so much power, if he wanted to get rid of someone, I would have been gone." He explained "football runs this University," and said the University would have closed ranks to protect the football program at all costs.

What a dumb kook! Where could he have gotten such an idea?

Actually, the reason Freeh featured this interview was because he endorsed this sentiment, "The University would have closed ranks to protect the football program at all costs." In his press conference introducing the report, Freeh said, "If that's the culture at the bottom, God help the culture at the top." (Remember Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream -- the rude mechanical whom Puck gives an ass's head, the better for various characters to fall in love with him when Puck administers his love potion to them?)

In other words, Freeh is taking the Shakespearean tack that the janitors spoke the obvious truth that everyone else ignored and still does: no one dared cross Paterno -- no one, be he the president of Penn State, the athletic director, the head of security, members of the Penn State Board of Trustees, or even the Governor!

If they did, they'd be gone.

I really liked that Freeh included that Shakespearean touch. I graduated from the same law school as Freeh (Rutgers), and I wouldn't say we learned literary subtlety in making our points there. Could Freeh perhaps become president of the University? He has these qualifications: He's willing to tell the truth. And he knows his Shakespeare.