TEC: Chapter 21:Strawman Intellectual, Part Deux

Time to check back in with Dean Archer Fallworth!

You’re slipping behind schedule, Bob.  Fallworth appeared in Chapter 14 in Ararat.  Tsk, tsk.

And as in Ararat, Bob Phillips still has no idea what to actually do with the character of Dean Archer.  See, in Babylon Rising, he sorta served as the academic counterpart to Talon–Murphy’s nemesis in the workplace, while Talon was his nemesis in the field (well, as in the field as Murphy ever gets).

But now, sadly, our favorite button-studying dean is relegated to a sounding board for Murphy–just a set of written instructions for how to respond to certain RTC dogwhistles.  In Ararat, it was the phrase “separation of church and state.”  This time, it’s that most dreaded of all words…tolerance.

Again, I’m really not seeing how Fallworth is the bad guy here, as his first complaint is that Murphy is “pushing religion on your students again.”

Which he is.  Hell, a mere two classes ago, Murphy preached about how God is still giving warnings like when he warned that the whole world would be destroyed by a flood, imploring the students to listen to the voice of God to tell them what to do.

But instead of admitting it, Murphy prefers to bear false witness to Archer, declaring:

“I’m not quite sure if I understand what you mean.  I am teaching a course in biblical archeology, and we discuss religious topics in the process.  It’s part of the curriculum.”

Part of the curriculum is creationism and listening to the still, small voice of God?  How’d you get that on your syllabus, Murph?

But Fallworth switches from this strong point to a weaker one–that Murphy has been “talking against Arabs and putting down other religions.”

Well…kinda.  But again, not the strongest point.  Murph made a snide comment about the Babylon of the future being a gateway to “placating” the Arab world, and he used words like “superstition” to refer to ancient religions, but I just feel that Fallworth should have stuck with the proselytizing point, since this is what could actually get Murphy out of the classroom.

But it’s okay, because Murphy is incapable of doing himself any favors.  The moment Fallworth mentions that Murphy is coming across as “intolerant,” Murphy snaps, yelling and “leaning forward” towards Fallworth, invading his space, because it is always about physically overpowering the other person for Murphy, never about exchanging ideas.

He snidely paints Fallworth as “politically correct” (although what Fallworth is really talking about is the idea of being polite and respectful), and then brings up Arab and Russian terrorists, and how he could never possibly be tolerant of their behavior.

Like I said, Murphy isn’t doing himself any favors.  He hears the word “tolerant,” and is told he is seen be his students as a person who puts down Arabs, and his knee-jerk response is that tolerance is just awful, because that would mean we would have to tolerate Arab terrorists.

Remember, Murphy is hardly meant to be the anti-hero or even a flawed hero.  This is basically a how-to manual for when one of those crazy, baby-murdering, commie liberals starts spouting off about tolerance.  This is meant to be a good response.

Archer, no fool, jumps on this and characterizes Murphy as “phobic against Arabs and Russians.”  Which…it’s kinda hard to argue the point.

But Murphy tries.  Weirdly:

“Because I have strong opinions and convictions that differ from what you believe, that makes me phobic?”

Well, when those “convictions” happen to be phobic, then…yeah.

Murphy quashed his desire to suggest that they go outside to settle the issue.

As always with Murphy, might makes right.

But no, he successfully quashes, and instead makes this next bizarre claim:

“I used Arab and Russian terrorists as an illustration.  It was not a put-down of particular groups of people.”

Similarly, when Murphy characterizes all criminals as black men, it’s just an illustration, not a put-down, right, Murph?  Just like you heard the word “Arab” and immediately word-associated “terrorist.”

Murphy blathers on about the “thought police” and how Preston University is supposed to have “free speech,” which again, Murph, has nothing to do with the fact that you are proselytizing to your students.

And I’m disappointed with Fallworth that he’s taken his eyes off the prize.  Though it’s not really his fault–Bob Phillips is writing him.

Fallworth has a pretty simple request, really: for Murphy to stop pushing his personal beliefs in his archeology class.  Murphy isn’t down with that, and Fallworth snaps that he’d like for the crappy class to be off the curriculum altogether.  Can’t blame the guy.

“Well, Archer, I have about a hundred and fifty students who are excited about the class.  I don’t hear any of them complaining about it.”

Of course they aren’t complaining to your face, Murphy; don’t be stupid.  They’ve complained to Fallworth and that is why he’s talking to you about it!

As I mentioned when critiquing Ararat, the people at Preston University I feel sorriest for are serious archeology students, who want to learn about things like mapping dig sites and are instead subject to rambling monologues about creationism and the conscience.

Unsurprisingly, they have gone to the dean with their concerns.  That Murphy doesn’t see that that’s what is going on says a lot about his self-image.

To top it all off, Murphy accuses Fallworth of being someone “who had a bad religious experience” or has “some moral issues that you are struggling with.”  Because those are the only possible reasons someone could object to preaching at your students in an archeology class.

Also, I imagine, they are the only reasons LaHaye and Phillips could conceive of that somebody might be an atheist.

Murphy then adds this hilarious projection:

“It’s been my experience that when emotions are out of control for the event going on…something else is going on.”

Did Phillips forget that he just wrote Murphy as the one who wanted to escalate this discussion to a fistfight?  But Murphy thinks Fallworth is the one being very emotional?  Man, a psychologist could have a field day with this guy.

Fallworth, awesome dude that he is, refuses to take the bait:

“We’re through talking, Murphy.  Just remember what I said; your job may depend on it.”

“Is that a threat, Archer?”

Well, yeah, kinda.  But not the kind you’re used to giving, Murph, where it all gets settled with the macho spilling of blood.  This is the kind of situation where your dean has given you fair warning to make some changes, and there will be consequences if you don’t.  Sorry to disappoint you, but the fact that you know karate and Fallworth doesn’t, doesn’t actually allow you to win this.

Perhaps realizing this himself, Phillips cuts the chapter off right here.  Maybe he really does see Murphy as the righteous bad-ass here.  But am I the only one who just sees a pompous blowhard instead?


Posted on April 12, 2016, in The Europa Conspiracy. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I’m assuming Lahaye and Phillips actually think Murphy’s arguments are good. As usual with Christian fiction, the strawman they’re arguing against makes better arguments than their heroes.

  2. Hey, there are a number of Christian terrorists too. I guess that means we should be free to belittle their superstitions in class too. Someone inform the professor from God’s not dead.

    • inquisitiveraven

      Yeah, the obvious response to equating Arabs with terrorists is to bring up the Oklahoma City bombing. Bringing up abortion clinic bombings probably wouldn’t work with Murphy since he no doubt thinks those were righteous acts. Well, he might think the same of OKC, but unlike abortion clinic bombings, he can’t admit to that.

  3. That Dumb Bully doesn’t kick authoritarianism in my face any more since I took the Charles Murphy Dynamic Argument Course.

  4. In my experience, most of those who call people “politically correct” are using it as a snarl substitute for “being polite and respectful”.

  5. Patrick Phelan

    “Well, Archer, I have about a hundred and fifty students who are excited about the class. I don’t hear any of them complaining about it.”

    Fallworth sighed. He’d thought he was ready for this, even relished the chance – though he did tell himself not to strut – to finally make this reincarnated Know-Nothing understand what the university required of him. But, as ever, he’d underestimated just how pig-headed belligerent Murphy could be. His mind was elsewhere, anyway; “Jefferson” had posted him another cryptic riddle detailing the location of looms that had been used to make seersucker suits for plantation owners, and a solid, cautious examination of the site could lead to great advances in prebellum history. All in all, it had probably been worth fighting that boot-wielding tarsier – probably “Jefferson”‘s attempt at a ‘tar heels’ pun – but it certainly left him with a headache.

    “No, you don’t, Michael. It’s not your responsibility to hear complaints from students about class material; it’s the responsibility of the Dean of Students.” He waited to see if that would sink in.

    Jesus is these students’ only Dean,” Murphy responded.


    Fallworth pulled out his tablet, turning it to the Safari page he had open. “This is a site students use to rate their professors,” he said, with the sigh of a man already surrendering. “You have a solid 3/5. The second-highest rated comment is from a student who calls you “what would happen if Greg Marmalard decided he was Indiana Jones, and I doubt he’d get either of those references”; he complains that he still does not know how to map out a dig site. The highest rated comment calls you the easiest A this student has ever received, saying “as long as you keep saying Bible stuff you don’t even have to know any arkiology” – you will note that archaeology is spelled incorrectly – and that she has no fear posting this online because “he probably doesn’t know what the Internet is because the Bible never mentioned it”. These are not ringing endorsements of your class, Michael.”

    There was a long pause.

    Jesus is these students’ only Dean,” Murphy pointed out.

    Archer put the iPad away. “Well, have a good day, Michael. I have to go to a rodeo to find a cryptic hint about the Battle of Bull Run. I do hope your class improves.”

    “I will punch you in the face,” Murphy said, which would have been more threatening if it wasn’t his usual farewell to Dean Fallworth.

  6. Would just like to say that I took a course on Christian literature given by a religious Christian who was open about his faith that had less God talk than this fictional guy’s fictional class. Less proselytization, too, but that would imply that there was proselytization going on. There wasn’t. Because it was a literature class, not Sunday school.

    It was a popular class at my famously godless school. Still is.

  7. That Other Jean

    “But am I the only one who just sees a pompous blowhard instead?” No. No, you are not.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for April 15th, 2016 | The Slacktiverse

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