FILM – SCENT OF A WOMAN
ADAPTED FROM COLONEL SLADE’S SPEECH TO THE SCHOOL BOARD
This is such a crock of shit.
“Still worthy of being a 'Baird Man.”
What the hell is that?
What is your motto here?
"Boys, inform on your classmates, save your hide" – anything short of that we're gonna burn you at the stake?
Well, gentlemen, when the shit hits the fan some guys run and some guys stay. Here's Charlie facing the fire; and there's George hiding in big Daddy's pocket. And what are you doing? You're gonna reward George and destroy Charlie.
I don't know who went to this place, William Howard Taft, William Jennings Bryan, William Tell – whoever. Their spirit is dead – if they ever had one – it's gone. You're building a rat ship here. A vessel for sea going snitches.
And if you think you're preparing these minnows for manhood you better think again. Because I say you are killing the very spirit this institution proclaims it instils! What a sham. What kind of a show are you guys putting on here today? I mean, the only class in this act is sitting next to me. And I'm here to tell you this boy's soul is intact. It's non-negotiable. You know how I know? Someone here – and I'm not gonna say who – offered to buy it. Only Charlie here wasn't selling.
There was a time I could see. And I have seen boys like these, younger than these, their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. But there isn't nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit; there is no prosthetic for that. You think you're merely sending this splendid foot-soldier back home to Oregon with his tail between his legs, but I say you are executing his SOUL!! And why? Because he's not a Baird man? Baird men, you hurt this boy, you're going to be Baird Bums, the lot of you.
As I came in here, I heard those words, "cradle of leadership." Well, when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall. And it has fallen here; it has fallen. Makers of men; creators of leaders; be careful what kind of leaders you're producing here. I don't know if Charlie's silence here today is right or wrong.
I'm not a judge or jury. But I can tell you this: he won't sell anybody out to buy his future! And that, my friends, is called integrity! That's called courage! Now that's the stuff leaders should be made of.
Now I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew. But I never took it.
You know why? It was too damn hard.
Now here's Charlie. He's come to the crossroads. He has chosen a path. It's the right path. It's a path made of principle -- that leads to character. Let him continue on his journey.
You hold this boy's future in your hands, committee. It's a valuable future. Believe me. Don't destroy it!
It's gonna make you proud one day – I promise you.