I’m sure that even if you have never actually seen the 1992 Rob Reiner military courtroom drama A Few Good Men, you are more than aware of its most famous line. The signature moment is when Tom Cruise is cross-referencing Jack Nicholson and demands of him: “I want the truth”, at which point Jack responds famously: “You can’t handle the truth!”
I’ve seen this line referenced (never well satirized), but most forget the context of it. In case you haven’t seen the film or need a refresher, the basic premise of A Few Good Men is kind of actually going on with George Floyd, with some differences.
In the film, two marines, Lance Corporal Harold Dawson and Private First Class Louden Downey, are ordered to give a “Code Red” to William Santiago. A “code red” is a disciplinary procedure, and Santigo had been requesting a transfer outside the chain of command. This code red consisted of stuffing a rag into Santiago’s mouth, and he died, because he couldn’t breathe.
I don’t know if you can see where I am going with this, but I am drawing a parallel between the killing of fictional William Santiago and the real killing of George Floyd. I’ll leave it up to you if you think it is in good taste, and I might be way off here.
Too Much Discipline Never Works
Is it possible that too much good does…bad? Something tells me that the man who put his knee on George Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, probably thought he was serving some kind of greater good. Did Chauvin think he was doing some kind of disciplinary procedure, and it just got out of hand? I guess, that, or he just straight up hated black people.
I once asked a friend of mine who was in the military if there was such a thing as a “code red”, and he told me that it might not be called by that name, but the disciplinary procedure does exist. What happened in A Few Good Men to private William Santiago was mean to “teach him a lesson”. I am certain that this “code red” is probably justified by military superiors, even though…yeah, it fricking hurts people.
So at the end of A Few Good Men, when Cruise asks if Nicholson’s character, colonel Jepsen, ordered a code red, he gives him the iconic response. What I hear is this: “We in military are the adults, and we protect you, the children. You’re too young to understand the how and why, but just sit back and accept it.”
I feel that we, as a society, we aren’t going to take this attitude anymore. It is a time where we are going to get furious when there is another George Floyd incident.
Why do think older cases of police brutality are being brought up? This is for a good reason, and yeah, the protests are a natural by-product of such cruelty. I can’t condone the violence, but yes, it is happening, and it is actually making us aware at how racist we still are. This is a time when we just aren’t going to accept an attitude that has kept us bound, and we are going to have to accept the responsibility of being free.