A Few Good Men

A Few Good Men

by Aaron Sorkin

"Plenty of wise-cracking humor and suspense." —TIME Magazine

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Freedom or Security?

The question of how far we as a country can and should go to protect ourselves from enemies, foreign and domestic, is one that has been hotly debated as far back as the Founding Fathers. No less a figure than John Adams, the second President of the United States and a co-author, along with Thomas Jefferson, of the Declaration of Independence, ran afoul of this question when he authorized the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, an act which unequivocally violated the first Amendment right of freedom of speech, the very Constitution that Adams himself had helped to create, all in the name of “national security” during a time of war.

More recently, the detainees who have been held at Guantanamo prison without due process of law and the revelations over NSA spying practices have become front page headlines throughout the country, inspiring countless debates on tv news shows and over kitchen tables in homes across America over the proper balance between ensuring our country’s security and infringing on citizens’ freedoms, rights and privacy.

Before any of those stories became front page news, there was Aaron Sorkin’s 1989 Broadway drama A Few Good Men, which most people know better as the hit 1992 movie of the same name. In Sorkin’s drama, he lays out, in electrifying fashion, the basic question we as country have been asking ourselves for almost 250 years: To what extent should we compromise the very principles of freedom, liberty and justice we revere in order to ensure the security of our country?

In A Few Good Men, Lt. Colonel Nathan Jessep, in a now famous speech, under examination by the attorney charged with defending two Marines on trial for murder, angrily articulates the case for taking extreme measures to safeguard the United States of America:

You can’t handle the truth! You can’t handle the sad but historic reality. We live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You?  You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. The luxury of the blind. The luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You can’t handle it. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at cocktail parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.

And so, the question A Few Good Men asks us to consider is one that is more relevant today than when Sorkin wrote his play over twenty five years ago: As citizens of the United States of America, how far are we prepared to have our country go to keep us safe at night?


Chris Lino

Managing Director