Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha is Jack Nicholson, lashing out against unpatriotic puppies who dare to ask hard questions.
"If they are uncomfortable living here because of the lese majeste law, they can find somewhere else to live," Gen Prayuth thundered this week.
Pinyo Trisuriyadhamma, for analogy's sake, is Tom Cruise (or something thereabouts; I can assure you that the under-fire Tob Jote host is taller than the Hollywood actor), and is also representing his guests in the monarchy debate, Sulak Sivaraksa and Somsak Jeamteerasakul.
Our Siamese version of this drama is not the direct face-off that Nicholson has with Cruise in A Few Good Men, a courtroom drama in which militaristic arrogance crumbles under the conviction of legal and human rights.
Our version of the outcome, I suppose, will be different too.
Let's revisit: In A Few Good Men Nicholson plays Colonel Jessup, called up to testify in a case involving the dubious death of a marine under his watch. Cruise plays Lieutenant Kaffee, a cocky young lawyer who's cross-examining Jessup and determined to expose the delusions of this high-ranking officer.
Cornered by Kaffee, self-righteous Jessup counters: "Son, 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? ... I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom.
"You weep for [the dead man] and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: [That marine's] death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives."
Glaring at the young man, the soldier continues: "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 I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I'd prefer you just said thank you and went on your way."
That's Nicholson's character to Cruise's, though it's not that hard to substitute them with our Thai counterparts (Gen Prayuth's scowl actually reminds one of Nicholson's).
In fact, our army chief has gone further than Col Jessup: He has suggested that those who disagree with him - those who believe in a civil, reasonable debate on the lese majeste law - should go and live in another country. Saying your thanks isn't enough, son, you should also go line up at the Suvarnabhumi immigration line!
The cynical hiss about seeking another country is a dangerous wildcard, given that there are actually separatists at work in the country, in the South to be precise, and given that the role of the military in our various political upheavals of the past 80 years remains unresolved in many ways - including the southern mess.
But isn't what I just said self-defeating? After all, the army chief thinks people with arguments, comments, disagreements and ideas about "sensitive" subjects, should be banished somewhere else.
You can't win this, even when you think you're imagining yourself as Tom Cruise, because every raised finger can be dismissed with the "go live somewhere else" eviction notice. This isn't a movie, and self-righteousness will always win.
Now the Tob Jote people, from host Pinyo to speakers Somsak and Sulak, have found themselves in the worst position of irony. They're now being targeted - with the malice of vultures swooping down on rotting corpses - by authorities using the very law that they tried to discuss reasonably in public.
This boomerang has a knife's edge, and the signal is as clear as day: Everyone, go back to your gossip factories and don't try this in public, no matter how well-meaning you are, ever again.
Gen Prayuth cites the norm of the majority, and that's a valid point. But majority rule shouldn't imply an official silencing of the minority, because that way, the majority loses its democratic integrity and rules on a vacuum.
Which brings us to the most often quoted lines from A Few Good Men. It takes place when, in court, Lt Kaffee is pressing Col Jessup on a crucial point.
Kaffee: "I want the truth."
Jessup: "You can't handle the truth."
And here I speak for Lt Kaffee: No. It's you who can't.
Kong Rithdee is Deputy Life Editor, Bangkok Post.
Latest stories in this category:
- Cannes report: 'A Touch of Sin' an early favourite
- Where did the fish go?
- Bad language makes children die in hot cars
- Tide of political vulgarity washes up on our shores
- Passion for film, football out of control
- A needless extravagance
- Chiang Mai reds' strange concept of democracy
- Think you know what's happening in the world around you?