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Zick Rubin’s columns on the lighter side of publishing and intellectual property law.
If Macbeth had been in Clinton's shoes, damned spot and all
The place is Dunsinane. The year is 1040. And the excerpts are from Macbeth’s answers to 81 questions put to him by the Committee to Investigate Foul Doings in Scotland, as made public today by the Castle:
Macbeth: I would like to repeat, at the outset, something that I have said before about my approach to these proceedings. For me, this long ago ceased to be primarily a legal and political issue and became instead a painful personal one, demanding atonement, daily work toward reconciliation, and frequent hand-washing by my wife and me, both today and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
Do you admit or deny that as Thane of Cawdor you are the chief law enforcement officer of Cawdor?
The Thane is frequently referred to as the chief law enforcement officer, although nothing specifically designates the Thane as such, and I’m not sure exactly what Cawdor is anyway.
Do you admit or deny that on April 29, 1040, you instructed Lady Macbeth to make a false and misleading statement about your planned murder of King Duncan by telling her, “False face must hide what the false heart doth know?”
I speak to Lady Macbeth often, and it is possible I once said that to her. I am not sure whether I did or did not say that because I was highly agitated, understandably, I think, and my dull brain is wrought with things forgotten. But I do remember that when I heard that Lady Macbeth was going to have to testify before the grand jury, I told her, “Honey, what ho! Just go in there and tell the truth.”
Do you admit or deny that when you were plotting to murder King Duncan, you asked Lady Macbeth, “If we should fail?” and she answered, “We’ll not fail.”
I am aware that that particular exchange is contained in the transcript of a conversation between me and Lady Macbeth that was inscribed during a fatal vision opportunity in our courtyard. To the best of my recollection, this conversation took place just before we were both scheduled to take the Cawdor bar exam and she was telling me not to worry.
As to each, do you admit or deny that on June 13, 1040, three witches put the following ingredients into a boiling cauldron while you looked on: the fillet of a fenny snake; eye of a newt; toe of a frog; wool of a bat; tongue of a dog.
In my testimony to the Office of Inverness Castle, I testified that the three witches “certainly could have” thrown a whole slew of ingredients into the pot, including “something” related to a Black Dog. There were a large number of items in that brew, some of which I remember and some of which I do not. But as to anything belonging to Newt, I don’t think so.
Do you admit or deny that when Lady Macbeth was overheard shouting, “Out damned spot! Out, I say,” she was referring to an incriminating stain on a dress?
Because I was not on stage during Act 5, Scene 1, I have no specific recollection of what Lady Macbeth was referring to when she made that statement. But if you want my opinion, I believe she was probably ordering our Scottish terrier to leave her bedchamber.
Do you admit or deny the past or present existence of or the past or present direct or indirect employment of individuals, including but not limited to three witches whose duties include making contact with or getting information about the potential consequences of the acts in which you are or could be involved?
I cannot respond to this inquiry because of the vagueness of its terms (e.g., “indirect,” “potential,” “could be involved,” “the”). To the extent that it might be interpreted to apply to three Weird Sisters whom I employed as pollsters, please see my response to the question about June 13, 1040.
Copyright © 1998 by Zick Rubin