Kris an’ Murphy: Opinions At Ten Paces

Brian Cox quote on opinionsKris: “You order the wine yet, Murphy?”

Murphy: “Haven’t seen the waiter yet.”

Kris:Good. We can get a bottle of whisky instead.”

Murphy:That kind of day, huh?”

Kris: “That kind of year, Murphy. I’m so sick and tired of walking on eggshells around these students. You can’t make a point, you can’t tell a joke, you can hardly say anything, in lecture or out of it, without one or a pack of them threatening to run me off campus on some trumped-up charge.”

Murphy:Trumped up?”

Kris: “Dammit, Murphy, you know what I mean! Bad enough we teach for peanuts, do the damned kids have to be allergic to them?! Who’s in charge here, anyway?”

Murphy: “Rule number 1. The customer is always right …”

Kris: “‘… and if the customer is wrong, see Rule 1.’ You’re not helping, Murphy. In my opinion, we ought to …”

Murphy:You have an opinion? Since when? Who do you think you are, having opinions?”

Kris: “What the … Perhaps I should give you a piece of my mind?!?

Murphy: “How about I give you a piece of mine, instead. What is an opinion, anyway?”

Kris:Knowledge in the making, of course! It’s what comes of a desire for learning! Which is what we do here. Or should be.”

Murphy: “Very classical. Congratulations. What’s today, 20th of April?”

Kris: “Yes …?”

Murphy: “Cusp of the sign of Taurus. Absolutely appropriate for a load of bull.”

Kris: “This would be your opinion …?”

Murphy: “Of course. You don’t see what an opinion really is, then.”

Kris: “I’m not yet seeing what you, in your great wisdom, seem to think it is.”

Murphy: “Well, it’s not the noble enterprise that you seem to think it is, not the humble quest for understanding that it’s made out to be. It’s a power play, pure and simple.”

Kris: “A power play?

Murphy: “Absolutely. By stating an opinion, I’m trying to win greater prestige with those among whom I’m sharing that opinion. Why else would I bother? If my opinion stands, I win; if it gets shot down, I lose. Needless to say, I’m going to do all I can to win.”

Kris: “Which is where logic comes in …”

Murphy: “NOT. Too much work, too slow. By the time you’ve got all your logic ducks in a row, I’ve shot them all down. You know about my Laws, of course.”

Kris: “They’re not yours …”

Murphy: “They’re called ‘Murphy’s’, are they not? You’ve heard of the one called Swipple’s Rule of Order?”

Kris: “Which says…?”

Murphy: “‘The one who shouts loudest has the floor.’ All I’ve got to do against your useless logic is to shout something catchy. Wall Street sucks! or something like that. If it’s catchy enough, I can get others to start shouting it too. Pretty soon I’ve filled entire city squares with people who are shouting for policies that sound good, but which the Baby Boomers, who used to shout for the same damned things, rejected forty years ago, as soon as they figured out where money really comes from. While you’re working in a crumbling edifice that will get knocked down as soon as they finish the design for the football stadium that will replace it. I win. You lose.

“This is what our students are doing with their ‘safe space’ and other demands. And they’re winning.”

Kris: “This isn’t exactly teaching tolerance. Or negotiating skills.”

Murphy: “You negotiate with someone whom you respect – or, perhaps, fear. You see any respect for others in your students today? You see any behaviors in their elders that have a chance of commanding any respect from the students? And precisely because the elders have screwed up so badly, the fear factor is on the side of the students, not their elders.”

Kris: “But if two opinions collide, which they will because there just simply isn’t enough room in the world for all opinions to coexist, and if there’s no incentive or willingness to negotiate, what’s there left to do but fight?

Murphy: “That, my dear Kris, is where wars come from. People have been sweating WWIII for decades, have been swatting politicians for Iraq and Afghanistan and Kosovo and Syria for years, and all this time they’ve been sowing the seeds for far worse in their own living rooms. Of course, if you tell them that, they’ll fight you, because they can’t have your opinion win out over theirs.”

Kris: “Even when your opinion is backed by hard facts?

Murphy: “Swipple’s Rule of Order. Besides. Define ‘facts.'”

Kris: “Jeez, what a joke.”

Murphy: “Sorry, no jokes.”

Kris: “Because a joke is an opinion, and suffers from the same constraints?”

Murphy: “Yep. Most jokes have a butt. That’s why I prefer the term assault comedy for most of what passes for humor these days. And the ‘butt’ is the entire reason for the existence of satire.

“The butts of jokes tolerate the situation, I argue, if, and only if, they have respect for, or fear, the joke teller. Where there is neither respect for, nor fear of, the joke teller, then the butt sees an attack, usually correctly, and takes umbrage, usually appropriately.

“And when the joke teller responds ‘It’s a joke, get over it’, that response is nothing more or less than a naked power play. Giving the butt the choice of submitting to slavery or fighting.

“We remember that, for all other species save humans, the laugh is a deadly threat, not an expression of mirth – and most ‘mirth’ in America today is, I argue, put out there with pretty near murderous intent. Under these circumstances, ‘humor’ can hardly be understood as anything but a prelude to open war.”

Kris: “So there’s no room for logic, and there’s no room for laughter. What do we do about all this opinioning?”

Murphy: “Let ’em all fight it out, I guess. The survivors might get exhausted enough, or hungry enough, to cool their jets and learn how to reason and how to negotiate … lest they too find permanent holes in the ground. Assuming the fighters have left any ground without holes in it.”

Kris: “Don’t bother ordering that bottle of whisky, Murphy.”

Murphy: “Why? Because we need one for each of us?”

Kris: “Yeah.”

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6 Responses to Kris an’ Murphy: Opinions At Ten Paces

  1. Karen Gardner says:

    Does this dress make me look fat?

    • Amoeba says:

      Kris: “There ya go, Murphy. You should have known you would get questions like that the minute you mentioned the word ‘butt’.”

      Murphy: “So after all that discussion, you’re still trying to make yourself out to be a big man with your opinions, and at my expense, huh?”

      Kris: “Define ‘big’.”

    • Karen Gardner says:

      Rather, Charles O’Kelly, director of applied research for some such company, do your employees read your hilarious Monday blog?

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