Since this thread is the one that finally got me out of lurker mode (2-3 weeks-apologies) I thought I’d add my point of view.
The insult in question-
“Did your parents have any children that lived?”-in itself isn’t that extreme, but in the context, I’ve always viewed it as a leading question, like a prosecutor baiting a defendant on the stand. In other words, the Gunnery Sergeant knows that the answer can only be an affirmation, and, when it inevitably comes from Private Pyle, he unsprings the realinsult. So the whole thing goes-
GS-“Did your parents have any children that lived?”
PP-“Sir, yes Sir.”
GS-“I’ll bet they regret that.”
The implication being that Private Pyle’s parents would have been generally happier had he been stillborn. For my money, I can’t think of anything more insulting.
Although I think that quote (as explained above) stands up on its own, you just cannot appreciate the level of vitriol Ermey interjects into Full Metal Jacket without having seen it- the first 45 minutes or so are the Sistine Chapel of profanity.