A few good men….

We saw ‘A Few Good Men’ again on TV the other night. The court martial at its centre investigates dark doings at Guantanamo Bay – but being filmed back in 1992, this is Guantanamo as frontline against Cuba, not the prison camp of the ‘war against terror’.

Jack Nicholson as Colonel Nathan Jessop, is defending the indefensible at Gitmo, in this case the ‘Code Red’ punishment of unsatisfactory marines. “I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way”.  His words could apply just as well to the illiberal measures taken at Guantanamo today, supposedly to defend the liberal West from terror. It’s a fine speech. But Jessop isn’t the hero, he’s the bad guy.  Being able to question the methods of the powers that be is not undermining freedom; it’s part of what makes us free.

As well as some great lines, ‘A Few Good Men’ has an interesting cast. Look beyond Tom Cruise & Demi Moore, and there’s a spruce Kevin Pollak, a wry Kevin Bacon (in fact, ‘A Few Good Men’ is a useful node for ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’) – and a brief appearance by Christopher Guest as a doctor.

Guest is best-known for his appearance as Nigel Tufnell in the wonderful ‘This is Spinal Tap’ – not entirely a coincidence, as both ‘A Few Good Men’ and ‘Spinal Tap’ are directed by Rob Reiner. Guest is married to Jamie Lee Curtis and also became an hereditary peer – 5th Baron Haden-Guest, of Saling in the County of Essex. And so we got Jamie Lee Curtis, in a tiara, attending the state opening of Parliament…

Now the hereditary peers have been all but purged from the House of Lords, this glorious randomness has gone. In its place we have not democracy but a house of placemen and women. No doubt there are more than a few good men in the Lords; but surely it’s now time for the Government to finish the job of Lords’ Reform and give us an elected 2nd chamber.

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