President Joe Biden’s attorney general nominee Merrick Garland as a college student at Harvard University wrote in a review of a musical that a song about rape was one of the play’s “hilarious group numbers.”
In a Harvard Crimson article published January 22, 1976, he wrote in a critique of the play (emphasis added):
A combination of factors, however, keep the vocal problems from becoming disastrous. Most important are the Jones-Schmidt songs themselves, simple and engaging melodies with a few tender ballads like “Try to Remember” and some hilarious group numbers like “it Depends on what You Pay,” which provides a shopping list of rapes for sale (e.g. “the military rape–it’s done with drums and a great brass band.”)
The play was “The Fantasticks,” performed by an all-freshmen cast. It is about a nearly 20-year-old college student and a 16-year-old girl, who are young lovers.
The article was submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 26, 2020, as part of a questionnaire Garland filled out for consideration by the committee next week. Question 12 asks the nominee to list published writings — books, articles, reports, letters to the editor, etc. — and public statements.
The song about rape has come under public scrutiny in the past for its lyrics, which include:
We’ve the obvious open schoolboy rape,
With little mandolins and perhaps a cape.
The rape by coach; it’s little in request.
The rape by day, but the rape by night is best.
Just try to see it.
And you will soon agree, señors,
When you can get the sort of rape
You’ll never ever forget.
You can get the rape emphatic.
You can get the rape polite.
You can get the rape with Indians:
A very charming sight.
You can get the rape on horseback;
They’ll all say it’s new and gay.
So you see the sort of rape
Depends on what you pay.
It depends on what you
The song’s lyricist, Tom Jones, made changes to the song in 2006 when the play was revived in 2006.
“For years I didn’t think and then gradually it began to seep into my consciousness. My consciousness was raised. I really began to think, you know, rape isn’t funny,” Jones told NPR in 2006. The word “rape” was later changed to “abduction.”