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From Successful Startup to "Catholic Jonestown"?

The Ave Maria School of Law is something of a success story. Founded only five years ago in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ave Maria's mission is to provide "an outstanding legal education in fidelity to the Catholic Faith." But it seems school founder and Chairman Tom Monaghan wants to mess with success. According to this story he wants to move the school from Michigan to a new campus in rural Florida — "Ave Maria Town" — where the school will be insulated from the outside world.

"We'll own all commercial real estate," Mr. Monaghan declared, describing his vision. "That means we will be able to control what goes on there. You won't be able to buy a Playboy or Hustler magazine in Ave Maria Town. We're going to control the cable television that comes in the area. There is not going to be any pornographic television in Ave Maria Town. If you go to the drug store and you want to buy the pill or the condoms or contraception, you won't be able to get that in Ave Maria Town."

Ann Althouse finds this vision "creepy," and I'm inclined to agree. Even accepting Monaghan's values, it's hard to understand. After all, can one really be an effective lawyer if one refuses to engage the outside world? I doubt it. To paraphrase one alumnus, what is the point of creating principled Catholic lawyers if they are not going to "engage the world" but "retreat from it"?

UPDATE: I agree with what Althouse said in the update to her post, and would like to incorporate her sentiments by reference. Also, as I note below in the comments, the "Catholic Jonestown" phrase came from the OpinionJournal story linked above. It was not my formulation. That is why it is in quotes.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Ave Maria Responds to WSJ:
  2. From Successful Startup to "Catholic Jonestown"?
washerdreyer (mail) (www):
How would Marsh v. Alabama apply, asks a law student who hasn't read it?
11.11.2005 11:13am
Reader:
I don't understand how living in a town that bans pornography and contraceptives will prevent anyone from getting a good legal education or being a good lawyer. In fact, I'm not sure living in such a town would be all that different from living in a fancy suburb instead of the inner city. (Certainly, the difference between, say, Greenwich, CT, and the Bronx is far more significant than the difference between Ave Maria Town and Greenwich.) The pill may be a wonderful thing, but I don't see how it helps teach law.
11.11.2005 11:25am
Joshua (mail):
There is also an article on Ave Maria Town over on OpinionJournal.com today. One commentator on Ann Althouse's blog noted the following:
It's only human to want an "untainted" environment. The difference is how large one tries to extend the untainted zone, from the home to the neighborhood to the hemisphere. What constitutes "taint" is an open question but not unusual.

This country was founded by such people at Plymouth Rock, and has had them ever since. They've never been more than a fringe movement since the mid-18th century. The tide of modernism and popular culture is too strong to allow these people to gain sufficient numbers to seriously impose their ideas on us.

I think that in the context of our national culture as a whole they are a positive force, if only to act as counterbalances to extremists on the opposite side.

Well put. It should also be noted that Jonestown was set up not only to keep the outside world out, but to keep its inhabitants in. As far as can be told, this Ave Maria town is meant to do the former but not necessarily the latter. That in itself renders the Jonestown comparison an overstatement.
11.11.2005 11:27am
HeScreams (mail):
How far could the leaders of Ave Maria Town (AMT) go to enforce the moral codes? Sure, there won't be any retailers of contraceptives, but what if a resident of AMT drives outside the borders to a drugstore, buys contraceptives, takes them back to AMT, and uses them in his residence there? Would AMT be able to prosecute? Evict? Would the resident have signed some kind of contract before moving in specifically prohibiting such actions as a condition of residence in AMT? Are there any legal or constitutional issues that would prevent AMT from taking these actions?

Or am I reading too much into the intent of the founders of AMT? Do they simply want to remove the providers of things that violate their morals? In practice, AMT will probably be more innocent than some of us want to make it sound; but I'll be curious to see how it plays out.
11.11.2005 11:47am
TL:
Um, I don't think there will be any real legal enforceability to AMT (beyond asking somebody to leave). It will all be contractual. And it sounds like AMT will be inhabited by law students and faculty/staff mostly. So presumably you'd be signing covenants in order to live in a "private" town, like signing a contract with the condo owner's association.
11.11.2005 11:51am
TJ (mail):
HeScreams,
the providers of things that violate their morals...
You mean... people?
11.11.2005 12:13pm
Cornellian (mail):
Why does there always seem to be such a high correlation between religious zeal and fixation with the sex lives of other people?
11.11.2005 12:16pm
Been There, Done That:
Presumably, there would be no condoms or dirty magazines in Ave Maria Town because we all know that religious people, like the kind that go to Ave Maria, don't buy such things! Or do they not believe in the free market's ability to keep out purveyors of unwanted goods and services?
11.11.2005 12:20pm
Jason Fliegel (mail):
I'm not entirely sure what Monaghan hopes to accomplish. Let's say I'm a student at Ave Maria. Likely, I don't want a Playboy magazine, since if I were the kind of person who wanted to read Playboy, I likely would not have enrolled. But if I do, the fact that it's not sold in town won't prevent me from getting one; it will merely marginally raise the cost to me. So does Monaghan think there are a lot of students (or faculty or administrators) who are on the margin of sinning?
11.11.2005 12:33pm
markm (mail):
Been There: Your logic is flawless, but before you assume that Ave Maria types will be embarassed by it, look up "original sin".
11.11.2005 12:40pm
Debo (mail):
I must first state that I am exremely biased in this matter and despise individuals like Monaghan who attempt to act as external consciences for the rest of us.

What truly bothers me about Monaghan's idea is that supression seems to be equated to holiness. If Monaghan was truly attempting to create lawyers who were free of sin, wouldn't temptation not be part of the gauntlet? Everyone knows the world is evasive with such naughty things as condoms and playboys. How did the religious right ever come to the conclusion that simply making something more difficult to do would eliminate the desire to do it? Am I wrong?
11.11.2005 12:50pm
Willard:
I don't know where the phrase "Catholic Jonestown" comes from; wouldn't "Catholic Kiryas Joel" (see 512 U.S. 687)be more appropriate? Of course, if you are not a Hasid, you probably wouldn't be that happy living in Kiryas Joel, and if you aren't a particularly devout Catholic, you probably won't enjoy Monaghan's town, but I don't understand the hostility, the use of the word "creepy," or the Jonestown comparisons.

Live and let live, I always say, but most commentators here aren't that tolerant, I guess.
11.11.2005 1:05pm
Cecilius:
Hmmm. Isn't virtue purchased by resisting temptation? One really wants to debate this idea on a higher level, but it's tough to stay focused since Monaghan's idea is just so bizarre.

As for Cornellian's rumination that there "always seem to be such a high correlation between religious zeal and fixation with the sex lives of other people," I'd remind him that the secular Left's obsession with abortion and homosexuality is equally fixated on the sex lives of others. One can reasonably agree with those views, but liberals certainly are not disinterested in what's going on between other peoples' sheets. Moral attitudes towards sex have always been a cornerstone of both religion and politics. Of course, it's tough to imagine Ave Maria churning out top notch lawyers simply because they couldn't watch dirty movies. Now, if they banned X-Box, then there might be more time for studying.
11.11.2005 1:12pm
TL:
Debo:
Consider internet pornography. According to common logic, and statistics, it has reached epidemic proportions in our society. Some people incidentally view the stuff (via teenage temptation or otherwise). Some people are genuinely addicted and maybe "want" to stop viewing it. For them, it is like having a dry town in order to keep alcohol away from a raging alcoholic.

See Romans 7:19 (NRSV) "I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do." Paul desribed this as the bipartite nature of Christians--the original sin nature of the flesh versus the spirit that dwells in those who repent and accept Christ's atonement for that sin. Under this logic, is it not compassionate to try to keep a brother from stumbling? (Though other portions of Scripture, namely Matthew 28 give reasons to question withdrawing from society, as in the case of having a private community).

[Note: Anywhere that freely accessible, and private internet is available, much of this logic is of course deflated, b/c internet pornography is much easier to get than magazines, etc.]
11.11.2005 1:24pm
Medis:
Reader,

It may not be effective, but it does seem like the idea is to cut off the students from the influences you would find even in your average 'burbs (eg, the usual mix of cable TV).
11.11.2005 1:28pm
Michael B (mail):
Ah yes, Jonestown. This would make the pseudonymous Juan Non-Volokh what? A Roland Freisler? Perhaps a Maoist apparatchik? Mirabile dictu, the joy of sophisticated, nuanced, lawyerly probings.

Now, would our eminent, pseudonymous jurist care to offer a similarly probative analogy for the Amish or Mennonites? Hitlerians all, no doubt. Such profound ideological zealotry to boot.
11.11.2005 1:29pm
Michael McCulley (mail):
Despite the fact that I am a bisexual pantheist, I'm all in favor of Ave Maria Town. The "culture wars" result from the fact that the nation, as currently organized, keeps people with fundamentally incompatable world views in each others' way. If Tom Monaghan has decided to try building his own community instead of regulating mine, I can only wish him luck.

I personally would like to live in a radical secular version of Ave Maria Town. Perhaps the time for "Camille Paglia City" has come.
11.11.2005 1:41pm
Pius XXX:
If you find the vision "creepy", my sincere advice is, don't move there!

Dunno abt AMT, but in Kiryas Joel, their only enforcement mechanism for violating communal norms is ostracism, which makes continuing to live there impossible, and which they exercise every now and again.

As for the motivations of the KJ'ers, the Jewish religion teaches that it is a sin to put yourself in the path of temptation: while temptations will continue to exist, Jews must take affirmative action to guard themselves from sin. That rationale is behind some of the more "crazy" restrictions: if you have no private internet access, it's hard to acquire an offensive item remotely, and it's kind of difficult to walk into a XXX video store in a nearby town in a black hat and side-curls and all!
11.11.2005 1:42pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
He can have whatever vision he wants. The graduates will do what they want, doing what they agree with and ignoring what they don't.

What's the big deal about that law school anyway? My law school is a goofy, unabashed liberal nuthouse. Our course list is full of worhtless courses such as International Environmental Law, International Law of Peace, Mexican Employment Law (yeah, should be a 1/2 hour seminar), Law of Indigenous Peoples, and things like that.

Obviously, they are teaching some law at Ave Maria, since they have a higher bar passage rate than U of Michigan does. (Michigan probably has the same worthless course list we do)

Call me a sucker but I think that a legal education consisting of some religious values is much more valuable than one that develops experts in Belgian environmental law.
11.11.2005 1:43pm
Marc J.:
Cecilius,

Your argument fails on both fronts on which it's made. First, the liberal argument--"liberal" both in the classic sense of small-government liberalism and in its popularity among the contemporary American left--against homosexuality is not premised on a concern with what people do in bed, but with a resolute lack of concern, and a sense that it's wrong for government to distinguish among its citizens on that basis. Not only would most liberals say that a person's answers to questions regarding his sexuality don't matter; they think that government has no business asking such questions in the first place.

As for abortion--I hate to break it to you, but medical abortions do not "go on between people's sheets." The liberal argument for choice focuses, not on the act of sex, but on its medical consequences. And as with homosexuality, the most extreme liberal view would be that the government should stay out of the issue altogether.

Whether either of these views is appropriate is, of course, debatable, but your attempt at "a pox on both their houses" fairness simply does not work on the issues of abortion and homosexuality.
11.11.2005 1:44pm
Jacques:

If the point were to block the students (and faculty?) from all pernicious influences, it would be naive. But of course it's nothing of the sort. It's an attempt to create an environment, complete with public spaces, where Catholic Christian values can be expressed, and things considered clearly evil are refused publicity and promotion.

Those of us who travel with our young children frequently enounter condom machines in roadside bathrooms, child's eye-level pornography in airport concessions, massage parlour and stripjoint billboards along the highway. Do we really need the intrusion of others' choices of this sort into our daily life to be living in the "real" world? I can remember when these were the sort of tings one would consider "creepy," not the efforts of town planners to create some space where sex was, not secret, not devalued, not forbidden, but simply private and intimate.
11.11.2005 1:52pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Perhaps a counterpart Protestant institution will be founded, to keep out all of the above plus any Roman Catholic paraphernalia?

Of course, the RCC has no use for Milton:
As therefore the state of man now is; what wisdom can there be to choose, what continence to forbear without the knowledge of evil? He that can apprehend and consider vice with all her baits and seeming pleasures, and yet abstain, and yet distinguish, and yet prefer that which is truly better, he is the true warfaring Christian. I can not praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat. Assuredly we bring not innocence into the world, we bring impurity much rather: that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary. That virtue therefore which is but a youngling in the contemplation of evil, and knows not the utmost that vice promises to her followers, and rejects it, is but a blank virtue, not a pure; her whiteness is but an excremental 39 whiteness; which was the reason why our sage and serious poet Spenser, whom I dare be known to think a better teacher than Scotus or Aquinas, describing true temperance under the person of Guion, brings him in with his palmer through the cave of Mammon, and the bower of earthly bliss that he might see and know, and yet abstain. Since therefore the knowledge and survey of vice is in this world so necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and with less danger scout into the regions of sin and falsity than by reading all manner of tracts, and hearing all manner of reason?
11.11.2005 1:55pm
DRJ (mail):
I would like to live someplace like this - Pleasantville circa 2005. But it does sound more like a monastery than a law school, and I believe that college and graduate school is a good time to expand one's horizons.
11.11.2005 1:58pm
Reader:
There's a lot of talk of "tolerance" for a bunch of commenters who are very happy to express that people who want to live without pornography are "creepy" (or even "despised," apparently). If 11,000 people want to live in a town without condoms and porn, that's fine with me.
11.11.2005 2:07pm
Medis:
Jacques,

But these aren't children, they are adults. And they are not just generic adults, they are law students.

So, to put the question in a slightly different way: are there really going to be enough jobs for lawyers in places like this?
11.11.2005 2:08pm
Michael B (mail):
"I can not praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat." Milton, quoted

Indeed, but a profound misapplication and, seemingly, misapprehension of the intent. The Roland Freisler review, together with ideological presumption and insinuation continues with robust, arrogating glee.
11.11.2005 2:10pm
Cecilius:
Marc J.

By "liberal" of course, I mean the now popular use of the term in reference to Democrats, Naderites, etc. As for the rest of your argument, you should get out of the house a bit more. Stop by a college campus sometime. You'll get an interesting view of Queer Pride parades, seminars, and speakers promoting sexual activities that were, at least at some time, quite unmentionable in public places, much less paid for with public money. The left does not simply shrug their shoulders and say "Let people alone to do what they wish." It actively promotes acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle in an attempt to convert (at best, demonize, at worst) those that disagree with them. Others, albeit a much smaller portion of activists, are working vigorously to strip away societal inhibitions against pornogrophy, public nudity, and other niche sexual practices under the banner of sexual freedom. As for abortion, any tried and true feminist will tell you that abortion is intimately linked with sexual freedom. In other words, the ability to chose sex without consequences (except for those pesky STDs). Sure, one can reasonably promote all or most of these things, but it is about promotion and it is about sex. Dressing it up as disinterested sexual libertarianism may be a decent post-hoc rationalization over cocktails, but it doesn't fly in the real world.
11.11.2005 2:11pm
Medis:
I'm not entirely sure the obsession with sex on college campuses is politically motivated.
11.11.2005 2:16pm
Juan Non-Volokh (mail) (www):
For those who did not check the links: The phrase "Catholic Jonestown" was not of my devising. That is why it is in quotes. It came from the OpinionJournal story linked in the post -- the same story in which the Monaghan quote appears and to which Althouse was responding. According to the story, this is how one of Ave Maria's faculty members referred to the plan.
11.11.2005 2:17pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Michael B., what is up with comparing JNV or anyone in this thread to Freisler? Besides name-calling and violating Godwin's Law, that is?
11.11.2005 2:19pm
Michael B (mail):
"... was not of my devising." J N-V

"... finds this vision 'creepy,' and I'm inclined to agree." J N-V

No, just agreeing with and promoting it. (And speaking only for myself, I did follow the links.)

Therein Anderson, you rather miss the point.
11.11.2005 2:32pm
RichC:
Whenever I read a story like this, all I can think of is Mark Twain's excellent longish short story The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg and its closing line of "Lead us into temptation."
11.11.2005 2:33pm
Cornellian (mail):
There's a lot of talk of "tolerance" for a bunch of commenters who are very happy to express that people who want to live without pornography are "creepy" (or even "despised," apparently). If 11,000 people want to live in a town without condoms and porn, that's fine with me.

"Tolerance" means willing to let them do it, which I certain am. It doesn't involve having to have any particular opinion about the merits of it. I'm perfectly happy to let any group of people found their own town in the middle of nowhere and to ban all pornography on their private property. At the same time, I am also free to question the intelligence of someone who thinks educated college students in their 20's will mysteriously lose all interest in sex if there are no copies of playboy at the local convenience store.
11.11.2005 2:37pm
Cornellian (mail):
The left does not simply shrug their shoulders and say "Let people alone to do what they wish." It actively promotes acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle in an attempt to convert (at best, demonize, at worst) those that disagree with them.

There's a world of difference between promotion of the right to do as one wishes in one's own sex life and trying to coerce someone else to live that same way. If by "promotion" you mean the former, I see no problem with that. Such groups have the same right of free speech on college campuses as anyone else. Do you have a problem with such free speech? Are you suggesting such speech should be suppressed?
11.11.2005 2:42pm
Rhadamanthus (mail):

Sure, there won't be any retailers of contraceptives, but what if a resident of AMT drives outside the borders to a drugstore, buys contraceptives, takes them back to AMT, and uses them in his residence there? Would AMT be able to prosecute? Evict?



Well it would give the SC a chance that they probably thought they would never get- to re-visit Griswold v Connecticut!!! Who would have thought someone would tray and enact such a "silly law"!!!
11.11.2005 2:45pm
Reader:
No, Cornellian - when we talk of "tolerance" of others, it's not like "tolerating" an awful stench. Would you say a college professor who refers to the religious views of his students as "creepy" is being tolerant of those views? (Or, even better, what if he tells the other students that he "despises" Catholics, but will "allow them to participate" because he's so tolerant?)

The "Catholic Jonestown" remark is preposterous. If JNV regrets endorsing it (as appears to be the case), he should amend his post.
11.11.2005 2:52pm
Cecilius:
Cornellian, grow up. Of course, anyone has the right to express whatever they please. Nobody dropped some bizarre censorship hammer on Peter Singer as he was trying to break down societal resistance to giving Fido a bone. While leftward activists have the right to promote sexual freedoms, even if bizarre, the folks at Ave Maria have the right to promote sexual abstinence. The question was whether the left is even speaking at all by promoting certain types of sexual practices (as I believe) or whether the left is agnostic towards other peoples' sex lives (as Mark J. claims). The concept that people have the right to promote one or the other is assumed by all but you.

Your post, however, shows a very bizarre concept of coercion and promotion. You infer that Ave Maria is coercing its students to live a certain way. Of course, it's impossible for the law school to truly coerce its students into a rigid religious life style. If law students do not want to live that way, they will not attend Ave Maria. The law school is promoting a certain life style by attempting to attract people that agree with them. Now, you aren't suggesting that their beliefs should be suppressed, are you?
11.11.2005 2:59pm
Walter:
For what it's worth, it seems that Monaghan had a different experience in law school than I did.

Maybe it's just me, but there was a reason at Davis that the bars closed at 11 but the law library stayed open all night. Come to think of it, my medschool roommate seemed to spend a disproportionate amount of time studying as well. Ditto for my undergrad engineering experience. I'll put Rolla, Missouri up against the proposed AMT any day.

At most difficult schools, the same factors which drive enforcement of morality in religion drove us as students to avoid temptation. Competition to be the best pushed students to spend (really excessively) long hours with decidedly non-erotic books. Fear of shame or embarassment in Contracts kept one's hand drifting to the hornbook rather than the more aesthetically appealing magazine. Pursuit of status (what else could explain it) made some subscibe to Foreign Affairs (for the articles, doncha know).

I sincerely doubt that, in their personal habits at least, the denizens of Ave Maria are more circumspect than the hapless souls attending Ann Arbor.

YMMV

[And I'm sorry, but, since 1986, I've taken a dislike to the initials "AMT". Somehow it seems to embody a limitation of economic licentiousness as well.]
11.11.2005 3:07pm
JoeW:
I say do it for two reasons:

1) It would be an interesting experiment in utopian theory and self-selection. My own hypothesis is that the "town" would get increasingly conservative over time and would be very vulnerable to a charismatic leader emerging and taking them on the journey of self-destruction that happens to most utopian experiments.

2) I want to open a drug store just outside the boundaries of said town so I can sell material into the black market system that will inevitably arise. (Forget Playboy, I'd probably make more selling pages from Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition or the Victorian Secrets catalog.)
11.11.2005 3:11pm
Michael B (mail):
And Anderson, that you fail to comprehend how Godwin's law does not apply - that instead an inane analogy was used to counter an equally inane analogy - might encourage you to at least hesitate for a moment before you additionally misapply a quote from Milton.

I particularly resent the accusation that I simply resorted to name calling.
11.11.2005 3:20pm
Cornellian (mail):
Your post, however, shows a very bizarre concept of coercion and promotion. You infer that Ave Maria is coercing its students to live a certain way. Of course, it's impossible for the law school to truly coerce its students into a rigid religious life style. If law students do not want to live that way, they will not attend Ave Maria. The law school is promoting a certain life style by attempting to attract people that agree with them. Now, you aren't suggesting that their beliefs should be suppressed, are you?

I never said nor implied that Ave Maria was coercing its students to live a particular way, nor did I call it "creepy" or use the "Catholic Jonestown" term. I think my term would probably be "laughably naive" for thinking students with cars and internet connects will somehow be prevented from seeing porn because it isn't being sold on campus. And if by "porn" they mean any representation or description of nudity, then I might add "prudish" as well. As I write this I'm moved to wonder how they plan to grapple with a signficant chunk of first amendment caselaw while still shielding their students from any exposure to pornography.
11.11.2005 3:41pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I assume you're suggesting that it would be slightly hypocritical rather than actually unconstitutional, cornellian?
11.11.2005 3:44pm
David Berke:
Don't get me wrong, I believe the Mr. Monaghan is entitled to start this school if he wants to. However, I'll admit it, I think it's a little creepy too. Not because there is anything wonderful about pornography, but because of what it reminds me of. A totalitarian state run by an allegedly benevolent dictator. Mr. Monaghan seems inclined to make every moral or ethical decision for those who would attend his school. I seroiusly doubt that anyone here really believes that he would limit his decision-making to the removal of pornography. I see proscribed religious and political views, with all dissent stifled; only those who toe the precise Monaghan approved line may be safe. This is also inherently a system particularly open to abuses of power, as not just the power itself but the determination of when such power may be justifiably utilized are likely to be in one individual's control.

What happens to children in a system like this? This is an entire town, after all. Professors, Wives, Students, Children therefrom. They are bound by a contract they never signed?

At what point does it become so quasi-governmental that the private organization no longer has the right to limit such activities? What if it grew into an entire school system? K - 12, University, Graduate Schools, with a combined child/student/adult population of 40,000?
11.11.2005 3:47pm
Cornellian (mail):
No, Cornellian - when we talk of "tolerance" of others, it's not like "tolerating" an awful stench. Would you say a college professor who refers to the religious views of his students as "creepy" is being tolerant of those views? (Or, even better, what if he tells the other students that he "despises" Catholics, but will "allow them to participate" because he's so tolerant?)

First, a professor is in a position of power vis a vis students, which mandates a standard of behavior vis a vis those students not applicable to people at large, so using a professor is hardly a valid measure of I am, or should be free to say. I am not a professor or an employer and not in a position of power over anyone.

Second, "despises Catholics" is both inflammatory beyond anything I said and is based purely on one's status as a Catholic, rather than the action of moving to the middle of rural Florida, buying up a lot of property and banning pornography on that property. There is nothing distinctively Catholic about the latter course of action, and criticizing it is hardly equivalent to saying that one despises Catholics.

I actually didn't pay much attention to the Catholic Jonestown reference that seems to have upset many of the people posting here. Perhaps I'm too young for it to have had an impact on me, since I have only a very vague recollection of what the "Jonestown" part refers to but apparently it's something quite perjorative, at least in the view of some of the people posting here.
11.11.2005 3:48pm
Cornellian (mail):
I assume you're suggesting that it would be slightly hypocritical rather than actually unconstitutional, cornellian?

I've not sure which part of which of my posts you're referring to by "it", but if you mean the idea of buying up land in rural Florida and creating a private campus upon which pornography and birth control will be prohibited, then certainly I wouldn't suggest that is unconstitutional (I'm assuming there are not other circumstances giving rise to an issue of state action). I'm not even sure I would describe it as hypocritical, slightly or otherwise. If those responsible for such plans were themselves viewing pornography and using birth control, that would certainly be hypocritical, but I don't know that to be the case.
11.11.2005 3:55pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"I'm moved to wonder how they plan to grapple with a signficant chunk of first amendment caselaw while still shielding their students from any exposure to pornography."

That's what I was referring to. Sorry.
11.11.2005 3:57pm
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
I doubt that Monaghan's plan would legally effective. Consider his statement:

"We'll own all commercial real estate. That means we will be able to control what goes on there. You won't be able to buy a Playboy or Hustler magazine in Ave Maria Town."
So I purchase non-commerical real estate, and apply for a zoning change or variance to put in the Bada Bing Erotic Dance Emporium, Bookstore, and Magazine Shoppe. Monaghan and his hand picked Zoning Board and City Counsel deny my application. I sue in Federal Court for violation of my First Amendment rights. Result?

I've only done some quick and dirty research because this caught my attention, but see generally Renton v. Playtime Theatres, 475 U.S. 41, 106 S.Ct. 925, 89 L.Ed.2d 29 (198) and Young v. American Mini Theatres, Inc., 427 U.S. 50, 96 S.Ct. 2440, 49 L.Ed.2d 310 (1976). My understanding is that regulation of commercial pornagraphy establishments must not be aimed at suppressing the content of the material shown or sold. See Renton v. Playtime Theatres, supra, 475 U.S. at 47-48, 106 S.Ct. at 929-930; Young v. American Mini Theatres, supra, 427 U.S. at 67, 71, n. 34, 96 S.Ct. at 2450, 2453, n. 34 (plurality opn.); id., at 79-80, 81, n. 4, 96 S.Ct. at 2456-2457, 2458 n. 4.

Moreover, in the Eleventh Circuit, where Monaghan intends to move his school, "zoning ordinances that target the social ills associated with adult entertainment are constitutional if they are narrowly tailored to further a substantial government interest and 'allow for reasonable alternative avenues of communication.'" Ranch House, Inc. v. Amerson, 238 F.3d 1273, 1286 (11th Cir. 2001) (quoting Renton, 475 U.S. at 46, 106 S.Ct. at 928).

I doubt that a zoning ordinance specifically and effectively designed to prevent "reasonable alternative avenues of communication" satisfies this standard.

Like I said, the above is only quick and dirty research, and I have to get back to work. But I do think there is an issue here. Some would say there is a business opportunity.
11.11.2005 3:58pm
Cornellian (mail):
Now I know this is probably unprecedented, but I actually went and read the WSJ article linked to in the original post. I note the following

1) it's in a WSJ section called "Opinion Journal" (not, e.g. "Pure Reporting")
2) The "Catholic Jonestown" reference in the title of the article is in quotation marks
3) The "Catholic Jonestown" reference in the body of the article is actually a quote from an Ave Maria faculty member, and the article describes the faculty member as referring "hyperbolically" to a "Catholic Jonestown"

Now here's the part of the article that I really did find creepy. The chair of the Board of A.M. is a pizza magnate named Tom Monaghan, quoted in the article as saying "There are not many out there who are really authentic Catholics," and creating them "is what I plan to do in the rest of my life."

It would seem that Mr. Monaghan doesn't consider anyone who views pornography or uses birth control to be a "really authentic Catholic" and that his mission is to create "really authentic Catholics" (rather than provide Catholics with a real legal education). I am not a Catholic, but if I were, I would consider the idea of putting the authenticity of my Catholicism in the hands of a layperson who seems to consider the absence of pornography and birth control the central features of that authenticity to be pretty creepy.
11.11.2005 4:05pm
JoeW:
Actually, I don't see any legal problem with this in a narrow sense. Many private religious universities already have a comparable situation. The problem arises as to what happens on the physical fringes of this private property. A sympathetic zoning board might prohibit establishments such as strip clubs--which is already common in many towns in this country--but would have serious constitutional problems regulating the pharmacy and what magazines, drinks and other items a nearby convenient store sold.

On the other hand, the reason Monaghan picked Florida is that he's already found some private property surrounded by, or mostly surrounded by, protected state and federal land, which would make this issue irrelevant.
11.11.2005 4:07pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I suspect the most valuable piece of real estate in the area will be the first lot outside the borders of the town.

If the town is established, after a few years some social scientist should figure the average number of children per family.
11.11.2005 4:08pm
Reader:
Cornellian, stop being argumenative. It doesn't matter if it's a professor or not. One student living in a dorm who says his Catholic dorm-mates are "creepy" is not being tolerant of them.

And no one thinks this will prevent people from getting porn if they want it. They simply don't want it shoved in their faces every time they turn on TV or walk past a newsstand. This represents one view of an extensively debated understanding of human sexuality and its temptations. (It's not that different than alcoholics who avoid bars so they're not tempted to drink. No one would suggest that they can't get booze if they want it, but it may still make sense to avoid it if possible.) If you're not familiar with this debate (and / or Jonestown [hint: yes, it is "quite pejorative"]), you should go read about it, not post comments on the internet.
11.11.2005 4:09pm
JoeW:
Correction: "the reason Monaghan MAY HAVE picked Florida"...
11.11.2005 4:10pm
B. B.:
I believe one of the main reasons they're looking at moving has to do with the fact that Monaghan wanted to build up in Ann Arbor and the city refused to change the zoning. Or something along those lines. He's got a ton of land there (Domino Farms), and I think he wanted to bring the law school and the college together in one place (college is in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor's neighbor to the east and home of Eastern Michigan University). He can do that by moving to Florida as well (Ave Maria Univeristy, the is already down there).

I think Ave Maria Town will then include both the law school and the university.
11.11.2005 4:11pm
mikem (mail):
David Berke: Just a bit overwrought, do you think? Just possibly?
Imagine your wild extrapolations applied to San Francisco. It would be called bigotry.
11.11.2005 4:12pm
tdsj:
i was down there last year, at the site of the new Ave Maria campus. it's a nasty, brackish place. it's creepy even without Mr. Monaghan.
11.11.2005 4:13pm
Cornellian (mail):
Cornellian, stop being argumenative. It doesn't matter if it's a professor or not. One student living in a dorm who says his Catholic dorm-mates are "creepy" is not being tolerant of them.

Stop being argumentative in blog posts? Are you serious? If no one argued about anything why would there be any posts at all? And you seem to have an exaggerated view of what tolerance means. I find facial piercings to be ugly and I've told other people my opinion, but I don't consider that to make me intolerant of facial piercings or people who have them, for 2 reasons 1) I don't make any attempt to stop anyone from getting such piercings and 2) I don't walk up to people with facial piercings and gratuitously offer them my opinion of how awful they look. I don't think tolerance requires anything more, and certainly doesn't require me to lie and pretend I think they look great, or that it's a good idea to get them.

And furthermore, there's a world of difference between saying, one the one hand, that it's creepy to move to the middle of nowhere so I can live and study in an environment completely controlled by a multimillionare pizza magnate of no particular religious qualificiations who says there are "very few authentic Catholics out there" and who thinks it's his job to create more of them in the guise of providing a legal education versus, on the other hand, saying that my roomates are creepy purely because they are Catholic.
11.11.2005 4:20pm
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
JoeW stated:

I don't see any legal problem with this in a narrow sense. Many private religious universities already have a comparable situation. The problem arises as to what happens on the physical fringes of this private property.
I doubt that any, much less many, private religious universities have a comparable situation -- i.e., where they own "all commercial real estate" in a town. It is one thing for a religious university to say that it is not going to sell Playboy magazine in the campus bookstore. It is another for it to own all of the commerical real estate in a a town expressly created to prevent the sale of Playboy magazine, and then to deny all zoning applications by non-commercial property owners designed to enable the sale of the magazine.
11.11.2005 4:22pm
Cornellian (mail):
If you're not familiar with this debate (and / or Jonestown [hint: yes, it is "quite pejorative"]), you should go read about it, not post comments on the internet.

I refrained from dealing with the "Catholic Jonestown" comment for the very reason that I wasn't all that familiar with the reference. I might read up on that some day, but in the meantime there's no reason why I can speak to the other portion of the post, namely the odd idea of a multimillionaire who wants to build a campus in rural Florida where he can control all aspects of the environment there, who feels there are very few authentic Catholics out there, and who considers it his mission to increase the supply of what he considers to be authentic Catholics. That seems to be an odd way to carry out what I thought was their mission of providing a legal education.
11.11.2005 4:24pm
Hoosier:
I find it "creepy" that anyone would choose to live in Las Vegas. If Ave makes the ultramontanist law crowd happy, I'm willing to let them have their fun. I'd prefer a few decades of the rosary to going to a topless bar. But primarily out of social snobbery.

AMDG
11.11.2005 4:25pm
JoeW:
Charles, I think you greatly misunderstand what Monaghan is doing; he does not intend to creating a town and then rezone it, he intends to create a town on land entirely owned by him. Disney World has already done exactly this.
11.11.2005 4:32pm
Cornellian (mail):
I find it "creepy" that anyone would choose to live in Las Vegas. If Ave makes the ultramontanist law crowd happy, I'm willing to let them have their fun. I'd prefer a few decades of the rosary to going to a topless bar. But primarily out of social snobbery.


I'd prefer to live in a genuinely federal system in which the people of Nevada can have the kind of state they want, and the people of Florida (Alabama, Minnesota, California etc.) can have the kind of state they want, instead of having some transient, majority-of-the-day in D.C. forever trying to impose a once size fits all approach to the country. All of which should, of course, be subject to the limits on state power set out in the Constitution, and by "Constitution", I mean the whole Constitution, without pretending that things like the 9th and 10th Amendments don't exist.
11.11.2005 4:34pm
Reader:
Cornellian, if people weren't argumentative, there would be blog posts to explore disagreement with a genuine desire to understand other viewpoints. When people are being argumentative, there are lengthy, repetative posts about side-issues that no one cares about or believes (including the poster - surely you don't believe what you wrote about how "tolerance" depends on one's "position of power vis a vis others").

Here, we have a group of orthodox Catholics who believe (as most orthodox Catholics do) that Christians should be more devout in practicing their faith, which requires (among many other things) closer observance of the Church's teaching on pornography, birth control, etc. Because of that, and because of the nature of things like pornography (which, like cigarettes and chocolate, tempt people to indulge even if they have made a rational decision not to), they want to limit their exposure to them. The government makes that hard to do if you live in Ann Arbor. Given all that, seems to make some sense to set up a little community of like-minded people to live together, no? Also, seems to make some sense to train lawyers to change those things about the law you disagree with, no?

But let's put all that aside, and please do tell us more about your Theory of Comments to Blogs, which seems very robust indeed.
11.11.2005 4:47pm
Medis:
Reader,

"Creepy" may be unnecessarily pejorative. But I do think it is worth commenting on when a group of people feel the need to withdraw from organic communities into their own centrally-planned and semi-closed communities (and yes, I realize that lots of people do this for all sorts of reasons, including many non-religious reasons). And it is perhaps not surprising that many commentators on a libertarian-leaning blog will find this idea personally unappealing, because libertarians have a general skepticism about the benefits of centralized planning of communities.
11.11.2005 5:03pm
Cornellian (mail):
surely you don't believe what you wrote about how "tolerance" depends on one's "position of power vis a vis others"

Of course I believe that. Who doesn't believe that a negative opinion from your commanding officer / employer / professor has more impact on you than a negative opinion expressed by a friend, passing acquaintance or total stranger? I'm not saying that people who have no power over you can't be intolerant, only that it's easier for people in a position of power to cause you harm and accordingly similar behavior can have different effects, depend on the status of the actor involved.
11.11.2005 5:14pm
Reader:
Medis, it is precisely because this response is coming from libertarians that I am surprised. The NY Times, of course, would find it creepy. But libertarians, I would think, would be sympathetic to a group of people who find it difficult to create their desired community because of government intervention (as is the case here). Even if Ave Maria could muster the local votes, the federal government would not allow the changes (because AM will be a "public accomodation," and because pictures of people having sex is protected by the First Amendment, etc.).

And I am not aware of any libertarian skepticism of benefits of planned "communities." (Federal or even state government, yes - but a university town of 10,000 people? What classical liberal idea informs that skepticism?)

I think this has more to do with libertarians disassociating themselves from religious conservatives than with classical liberalism. I can't imagine a bunch of libertarians rushing to attack a high-rise apartment building that is "centrally planned," and I doubt it's because that only includes 1,000 people, whereas Ave Maria would include 10,000.
11.11.2005 5:15pm
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
JoeW stated:

Charles, I think you greatly misunderstand what Monaghan is doing; he does not intend to creating a town and then rezone it, he intends to create a town on land entirely owned by him. Disney World has already done exactly this.
JoeW, I think there is an important distinction. Monaghan states that his university would own all of the "commercial real estate" in "Ave Maria Town," indicating that it would not own the non-commericial real estate. My hypothetical addresses what happens if somebody purchases a piece of non-commercial real estate and applies for a zoning change in order to utilize their First Amendment right to erotic, pornographic expression. As I read the case law, "Ave Maria Town" could not enact or enforce zoning ordinances to prohibit all such uses anywhere in the town.
11.11.2005 5:15pm
Cornellian (mail):
Here, we have a group of orthodox Catholics who believe (as most orthodox Catholics do) that Christians should be more devout in practicing their faith, which requires (among many other things) closer observance of the Church's teaching on pornography, birth control, etc. Because of that, and because of the nature of things like pornography (which, like cigarettes and chocolate, tempt people to indulge even if they have made a rational decision not to), they want to limit their exposure to them. The government makes that hard to do if you live in Ann Arbor. Given all that, seems to make some sense to set up a little community of like-minded people to live together, no? Also, seems to make some sense to train lawyers to change those things about the law you disagree with, no?

Who exactly are the "they" you're referring to? The story is about Tom Monaghan, multi-millioniare and primary benefactor of Ave Maria, who wants to build his own town in Florida so he can control what happens there, and the opposition to that idea from the faculty and alumni of Ave Maria. It's hardly a collective decision by a group of like minded people.

I have no problem with a group of like minded people setting up a community and living however they wish. What I consider worthy of criticism is the idea that a multi-millionaire who thinks there are very few authentic Catholics out there wants to take an institution purportedly there to provide a legal education and use that as an opportunity to control the lives of the students who live there. Now lets's suppose he builds Monaghan Town in the middle of the Florida wilderness. No one is forced to move there, and for someone who does move there with full notice that Mr. Monaghan is going to set the standards for what constitutes an authentic Catholic and expect the student to live by those standards, well the student won't have much cause for complaint. He knew what he was getting into. That doesn't prevent me from criticizing it as a plan that is both strange and not even particularly Catholic.
11.11.2005 5:22pm
Cornellian (mail):
But let's put all that aside, and please do tell us more about your Theory of Comments to Blogs, which seems very robust indeed.

It's not much of a theory. If you have an opinion that relates to the subject of the blog entry, feel free to post your comments. I'd call it more of a position than a theory.
11.11.2005 5:25pm
Medis:
Reader,

I certainly don't claim to speak for all libertarians. But to me this is not just an issue of the number of people, but also of the degree of control Monaghan wants over things like cable programming. Similarly, I would be concerned about how this power was allocated. And at some point, I would question the distinction between what Monaghan wants to control and government control of the same things (even if the "government" he wants to create is very small).

Of course, you are right that libertarians might object if a higher government authority wanted to interfere too much with this community. But this is not an either-or proposition: we can find troubling the idea of any government (or government-like) planning authority controlling something like our cable television choices, whether it is the federal government, a state government, or our local town government.
11.11.2005 5:32pm
JoeW:
Charles, by all accounts the entire town will be located on private land owned by Monaghan (or a trust he forms.) I believe Monaghan is using the word "commercial" here to mean places that would be considered commercial in any other town, but he is clearly not speaking of commercial in any other sense, nor is he implying there would be land for sale subject to zoning change requests of the county.

There are several ways he could then proceed; renting or leasing residences, selling them with strongly worded covenants and the requirement that property be sold back to the Monaghan (or trust) when it is sold or offering residences for "free" with salaries or paid tuition.

Check out Disney's planned community Celebration for a rundown on other solutions or information on the Fundamentalist LDS settlment outside Eldorado Texas, which is held as community property.
11.11.2005 5:36pm
markm (mail):
"I suspect the most valuable piece of real estate in the area will be the first lot outside the borders of the town." Surely. What's worse, I suspect you'll have to pass dozens of porn shops, strip joints, and X-rated theaters before you reach the first pharmacy that sells birth control pills. (OTOH, condoms will be available in the bathrooms of all of those joints.)
11.11.2005 5:37pm
markm (mail):
For those young people who don't get the reference to Jonestown: There was a religious cult that moved to Guyana (South America) and built their "perfect town" out in the jungle, called Jonestown after their founder. The Rev. Jones seems to have been abusively authoritarian. I don't know the details, but there was something that drew a US COngressman to fly down there to investigate, and then to try to get the local authorities to intervene. When they realized that the authorities would shut them down, Jones and his most trusted disciples passed out poisoned Kool-Aid to the rest of the flock. It sounds like many people drank it knowingly and voluntarily, but some may have been coerced. Nearly the entire group died, children and all.

The comparison to Jonestown is quite unjustified. I hope...
11.11.2005 5:45pm
JoeW:
While I joked about this, I suspect it wouldn't happen due to simple economics. The people living in this town would be self-selected and would likely be people with little desire to visit strip clubs, porn shops and X-rated theaters.

Moreover, the county would have both the power and incentive to ensure this didn't happen. My own real guess is that were this successful, an only slightly less conservative community would grow up next door. Yes, someone would try to put in a porn shop, but the legal cost would be so high that they'd probably give up. And even if it did work, it would probably go under.

Just visit Provo, Utah for a prime example of this. (You have to go to Salt Lake City for the strip clubs and porn shops and there are no x-rated theaters that I know of in the state. The porn shops that do exist are pretty mild by comparison to other cities. Some of this is prudery, much is simply the lack of a viable market.
11.11.2005 5:46pm
Anon7 (mail):
As a libertarian, I always thought we should be suspicious not only of the accumulation of government power, but also the excessive concentration of power in private hands. Monaghan wants to move 10,000 people into the wilderness so he can exercise absolute power over every aspect of their lives. What the heck is libertarian about that?

He's not reacting here against government, as one poster claimed. Government doesn't produce Playboy, birth control pills, or cable television. The free market does. Mongahan is attempting to escape the market, not government.
11.11.2005 5:52pm
Reader:
Medis, my high-rise apartment building chooses my cable provider, and prohibits the stores in the plaza / lobby from selling porn and cigarettes (this is very typical for a nice residential building in NYC). It also chooses what art to hang on the hallway walls, which cleaning service vacuums the floors, and whether or not residents can own pets. Does that worry you? My guess is it does not. I would also guess that if an eccentric, hard-line Catholic bought such a building and ran it similarly, a lot of people would find that creepy. Those people need to re-visit their classical liberal texts.
11.11.2005 6:01pm
JoeW:
Reader, our example doesn't worry me, but I do find it "creepy", which is why I don't live in such a place.

(The idea of living in a free love community creepy as well, but like this idea, if a bunch of people want to do it of their own free will, all power to them. Just don't expect me to stop using the word "creepy" when describing them if asked.)
11.11.2005 6:12pm
Medis:
Reader,

Does your apartment building actually choose cable providers based on trying to keep out certain content? If so, I actually would find that an unappealing practice.

And if your apartment building proposed to move all of you out to a rural area so that it could extend its control over the stores to all of the nearby stores as well, I would find that an unappealing practice too. And so too if they wanted to be in charge of the local law school ... which finally gets us back to Ave Maria Town.

And none of this has to do with the people who want such control being Catholic. They could be Socialists, or Democrats, or just people who really like authority. It doesn't matter to me why they want so much unfettered control--I don't trust the very idea of such control.
11.11.2005 6:20pm
Cornellian (mail):
Medis, my high-rise apartment building chooses my cable provider, and prohibits the stores in the plaza / lobby from selling porn and cigarettes (this is very typical for a nice residential building in NYC). It also chooses what art to hang on the hallway walls, which cleaning service vacuums the floors, and whether or not residents can own pets. Does that worry you? My guess is it does not. I would also guess that if an eccentric, hard-line Catholic bought such a building and ran it similarly, a lot of people would find that creepy. Those people need to re-visit their classical liberal texts.

Those classical liberal texts would have no problem with you finding that "creepy" even as they remind you that your subjective sense of creepiness is not a valid basis for dictating the behavior of others.
11.11.2005 6:21pm
Reader:
No one is moving anyone anywhere (and certainly not to "the wilderness" - it's just outside of Naples). We're basically talking about a large gated community. All such communities (resorts, high-rises, retirement centers, etc.) "control" things like whether to get the cable with all the Christian stations or the one with the porno stations (needless to say, in NYC it's always the latter, which I'm sure reassures you for whatever reason). This is not "unfettered authority" (and it certainly isn't one person having "absolute power over every aspect of their lives," as one of the nuttier posts says). Someone explain how it's different (other than in size) than building a gated community or high-rise to attract 1,000 residents.

In any case, I don't know when libertarians became worried about "excessive" power in private hands, but if we're joining Michael Moore down that road, shouldn't we all be pooping our pants over Wal-Mart (which refuses to carry even soft-core smut, and tries to encourage employees to eat properly and exercise), and not worry too much about some town with 1/500th the reach of that behemoths?
11.11.2005 6:43pm
P J Evans (mail):
The rest of Jonestown: They ambushed the Congressman and his party as they were trying to leave from the airport - it was Leo Ryan from San Francisco - and killed him and several other people. Then the Jonestown people drank the poisoned Kool-Aid (tm) or otherwise killed themselves (murdered some of the members, particularly in the case of the small children). That's what some of us remember. And not long after that came the assasinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk.
11.11.2005 6:49pm
Medis:
Reader,

I have the same basic feelings about many such gated communities, particularly the ones that strive to be almost entirely self-contained. Again, I find this idea of withdrawing from organic communities and giving a lot of control to central planners unappealing no matter who is doing it.
11.11.2005 6:50pm
Cornellian (mail):
Perhaps it's a bit of a tangent here, but for those of you who have posted your opinions (and the reasons for them) on this issue, does your view (or your reasons) change if you're talking about Bob Jones University's ban on interracial dating? Why or why not? Assume no state action in either case.
11.11.2005 6:56pm
Reader:
Medis, that's fair enough, but I would reiterate that I think - under that test - Wal-Mart and pharma companies (which dictate which diseases are worth treating, the leftists whine) are creepier than Ave Maria, because of their broader reach. That strikes me as overly skeptical of the free market, and un-libertarian.

I also have never, ever heard concerns over high-rises and gated communities from libertarians, which reinforces my suspicion that the concern with Ave Maria has something to do with its religiosity. (In fact, libertarians as a group tend to run for the mountains of MT, no? I know I fantasize about that from time to time . . .)
11.11.2005 7:01pm
David Berke:
"Just a bit overwrought, do you think? Just possibly?
Imagine your wild extrapolations applied to San Francisco. It would be called bigotry."

I don't think it's overwrought.
(1) I think that people who think they know "the way" and believe they are entitled to determine what is proper for everyone are scary, regardless of whether they are on the left, right, or in the ionosphere communing with aliens. Yes, this applies equally to your implied hypothetical San Francisco example in which apparently the city defines for its denizens what is right, wrong, shall be, and shall not be. Everything I've read or seen suggests a tendency on the part of fanatics of every strip to attempt to accumulate and then misuse power.

(2) It wasn't an extrapolation, it was largely a hypothetical question: What if X happened?

On a separate issue, it appears to me that if libertarians don't like the exercise of power by governments, that there is no reason why they would prefer the exercise of the same amount of power by a single individual or corporation.

I think the building analogy is a poor one, as well. A building, a single entity, is not a town. It does not seek to regulate the behavior of those who are not within the building. Nor does it seek to ensure that no person in the building have a particular religion, political belief, or taste (or lack thereof) for pornography, among other things. The differences in the scope of control and ready availability of outside choices are substantial.
11.11.2005 7:04pm
Michael B (mail):
"... absolute power ..."

An eye-roller, and this from a self-described libertarian.

However, the term "control" has been siezed upon both here and in Althouse's venue as well. It's interesting (rather than merely being a quibble or an exercise in moralistic pettiness) because in doing so it allows one to attempt control of the debate. What has been established about this term "control" as applied to AM? As applied to Monaghan? As applied to others' choices and liberties? As applied to the debate as a whole? (And, one might ask, what are the corrolative views toward Amish, Mennonite, etc. enterprises and their own uses of their own private lands? They too must be creepy!)

Personally I'm no more interested in AM than I am in an Amish or Mennonite setting. But from a legal and constitutinal perspective - and this and Althourse's are blogs with a stated serious interest in legal/societal matters - the seeming willingness of some to insinuate their (in several cases) cavalier opinings into others' lives and liberties is no small or slight matter. Creepy.

Perhaps even worrying. Or at least it might be for some as it's seemingly a casuistically attuned creepiness intent upon - control. The charge of creepiness per se is typically of no or little account; in the hands of earnest lawyers with constitutional interests however a charge of creepiness can turn into coersive control.
11.11.2005 7:08pm
Half Canadian (mail):
Why don't they just institute an honor code? Brigham Young University requires students to abide by specific rules that are related to Mormonism (I assume that avoiding pornography is one of them). Wouldn't it be cheaper, as well as more practical, to just ask students to sign a similar honor code (reflecting Catholic values and beliefs, rather than Mormon ones)?
And, while it could be argued that Provo, UT is insulated, it isn't to the degree suggested here.
11.11.2005 7:27pm
Et Tu? (mail):
I find it creepy, too. But I'm all for it - I'm a big fan of Balklinizing the country. Let everyone have their own 'burbclave, and may the best culture win.
11.11.2005 7:40pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
The law school was founded in Michigan a while ago. Tom Monaghan wanted to establish an undergraduate university together with the law school. The community in Michigan denied zoning for the University. He went where he was welcome and decided to bring his law school with him. What's the big deal? It makes more sense to keep your institution together and he couldn't do that in Michigan.

Thanks to the Nets, the students will be able to get all the sin and degradation anyone could want.

I think it's quite strange that some people worry that other people don't get a high enough dose of perversion. What is the minimum daily requirement?

You should be aware the today's Trads get exposed to much more perversion than the libertines of 50 years ago. They will get enough from that "low" dose to function adequately in Mod Cult.
11.11.2005 7:44pm
frankcross (mail):
I've got no problem with such a community, but think about it. The guy is asking all his faculty to move across the country to keep their jobs. That's quite a sacrifice, I wouldn't work at such a place. And the reason (no porn, etc.) is a tremendously weak one -- because of the internet. The net reduction in temptation is trivial in today's world. To meaningfully reduce temptation, you'd have to ban the internet. Austin is a fairly open place, and I can't remember the last time I saw porn mags, while some fairly innocent google searches turn up porn.

I suspect the authentic reason is an economic one, to make money, or perhaps the desire to produce a larger school.
11.11.2005 8:41pm
Perseus:
I see proscribed religious and political views, with all dissent stifled; only those who toe the precise...approved line may be safe.

Pardon me lest I criticize my oh so open-minded "colleagues" in the profession, but to me that description sounds a lot like your average secular college or university.
11.11.2005 8:42pm
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
JoeW stated:

Charles, by all accounts the entire town will be located on private land owned by Monaghan (or a trust he forms.) I believe Monaghan is using the word "commercial" here to mean places that would be considered commercial in any other town, but he is clearly not speaking of commercial in any other sense, nor is he implying there would be land for sale subject to zoning change requests of the county.

I think this is factually incorrect. According to the Opinion Journal article: "'We'll own all commercial real estate,' Mr. Monaghan declared." He did not state all of the real estate.

Even if you are factually correct, I suspect that the plan would still not be free from First Amendment difficulties. If you are correct, Mohaghan is trying to set up a "company town," in this case the "company" being a university, that may be subject to the holding of Marsh v. State of Ala., 326 U.S. 501, 66 S.Ct. 276, 90 L.Ed. 265 (1946). See also N.L.R.B. v. Stowe Spinning Co., 336 U.S. 226, 69 S.Ct. 541, 93 L.Ed. 638 (1949).

Obviously, the only solution is mobile porn trucks (sort of like old-fashioned ice-cream trucks) plying the streets of Ave Maria Town, or perhaps door-to-door porn salespersons.
11.11.2005 8:54pm
Anon7 (mail):
What has been established about this term "control" as applied to AM? As applied to Monaghan? As applied to others' choices and liberties? As applied to the debate as a whole? (And, one might ask, what are the corrolative views toward Amish, Mennonite, etc. enterprises and their own uses of their own private lands? They too must be creepy!)

The difference in Amish, Mennonite, etc. enterprises is that the entire community decides on the standards they all accept. In this case, it will apparently be Monaghan alone who decides what is and is not allowed in the community on pain of pulling his money out and effectively killing the school.

When he says "we'll" own the property, what he means is "he'll" own the property. When he says "we" will control what goes on in the town, he seems to me "he" will. If you complain, you get kicked out like the objector in the original article.

Maybe I'm wrong and he plans to let the people of the town elect their leaders and trusts they'll make the right choices. But it sure as heck sounds like he's going to make all the decisions for everyone.
11.11.2005 8:57pm
Elais:
At first glance, I don't see this town as being much different that Amish or Mennonite, etc or even gates communities. What I see the problem is that Amish cultures are more or less self contained, they don't venture outside of their culture or area a great deal.

I presume this town/school is supposed to generate folks that will travel out into the great big wide sinful world? How will they effectively cope and perform their jobs well?
11.11.2005 8:59pm
RichC:
Charles,

I'm curious as to why you are so sure there would be the sort of the zoning problems you're talking about. Over here in MA, for example, it is rock-hard settled law that you can't spot zone. So if you were in the middle of a residential zone and your parcel did not border any parcels zoned commercial, not only would the town be able to refuse to rezone you commercial, it would be <i>illegal</i> for the town to rezone you commercial. So I doubt very much that there's any constitutional right to be able to get your land zoned any way you want it.

Second, I'd imagine that when people buy non-commercial land, the purchase and sale agreement will have clauses and the deed will have covenants that run with the land whereby the buyer (and thus future buyers) will be subject to various land-use restrictions. And that's hardly unheard-of -- it's how homeowner associations operate and get their power.
11.11.2005 10:20pm
anonymous22:
I really dislike the fact that the conservative movement has to rely on such bizarre fundraisers as Monaghan. You see it time and again that intellectual conservatives have to take money from weirdos in order to get funded. And then the left predictably smears the funding sources. You saw this occur with the Coors family, among others. PC-types won't fund controversial people, bottom line.
11.11.2005 10:24pm
RichC:
And as a Town Meeting Member in my town for almost ten years (in MA towns, Town Meeting is the body with the authority to create and modify zoning districts and to assign parcels to those districts), I can tell you that we have many times refused an owner's request to rezone a parcel, and have rezoned a parcel over the objections of the owner, without incident.
11.11.2005 10:26pm
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
RichC said:
Charles, I'm curious as to why you are so sure there would be the sort of the zoning problems you're talking about. Over here in MA, for example, it is rock-hard settled law that you can't spot zone. So if you were in the middle of a residential zone and your parcel did not border any parcels zoned commercial, not only would the town be able to refuse to rezone you commercial, it would be illegal for the town to rezone you commercial. So I doubt very much that there's any constitutional right to be able to get your land zoned any way you want it.
I think many people are disregarding the obvious First Amendment issues, and have not addressed the case law I've cited. As I understand the case law (and as I stated, my research was very rough and ready), a city or town simply cannot create a zoning plan that is designed so that pornagraphy is not allowed anywhere.

My guess, and of course it is only a guess, is that the zoning situatons you've addressed have not raised First Amendment concerns. It is one thing to not allow somebody to rezone their residential property in order to convert it into a barbershop. It is quite another to not allow him to rezone his property to permit him to sell magazines when: (a) one of those magazines happens to be Playboy; and (b) the zoning system is designed, and has the effect, of not allowing Playboy to be sold anywhere.

Whether people like or not, it appears the entire point of Monaghan's plan is to suppress Constutionally protected speech. Now, I know some people here don't particularly like the speech being suppressed, and may be sympathetic to Monaghan's concerns, but then again I thought that was the point (or one of the points) of the First Amendment.

Here's a test. For "Playboy" substitute "New York Times." Is the analysis different? Should it be?
11.11.2005 11:05pm
RichC:
That's a good point on the zoning side, but what about on the "waive rights by contract" side? For example, at least from what I've read over the years, homeowners' associations here and there have been successful in banning the display of signs (even political ones) in people's yards. So it would appear that agreeing to not engage in various otherwise-protected-by-first-amendment activities hasn't (at least in some states) been ruled unconscionable and hence the prohibition-by-contract is enforceable against the buyer.
11.11.2005 11:22pm
Kevin F (mail):
What's all the fuss about? It's surely no secret that college campuses have served as islands of enforced lefty liberalism for 30 years. One campus that goes in the opposite direction, and people shudder as if touched by a hand from the grave.

What a non-issue.
11.11.2005 11:26pm
Marc J.:
Cecilius,

I think we part company on the definition of "the left." Personally, I don't consider all members of campus GBLTetc. groups "left." Those groups are essentially single-issue interest groups, and although today their bread is buttered largely by the political left, they are not "leftists" per se. Likewise, I wouldn't identify "the right" with, say, Ave Maria, although it seems pretty much beyond dispute that the contemporary American right is far more sympathetic than the left to such fusions of religion and public policy as that referenced in JNV's post.

By compressing "the left" to the actual marchers in campus gay pride parades, you eliminate a substantial portion--I'd guess a majority--of those who believe that the government should stay out of the sexuality business altogether.

But thanks for the thoughtful reply.

Cheers
11.12.2005 12:40am
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
RichC said:
"That's a good point on the zoning side, but what about on the "waive rights by contract" side? For example, at least from what I've read over the years, homeowners' associations here and there have been successful in banning the display of signs (even political ones) in people's yards. So it would appear that agreeing to not engage in various otherwise-protected-by-first-amendment activities hasn't (at least in some states) been ruled unconscionable and hence the prohibition-by-contract is enforceable against the buyer."
You may be right; I'm not familiar with the issue. It may be the only recourse is porn-trucks (i.e., former ice-cream trucks) plying the streets of Ave Maria Town and/or door to door porn salespersons.

Then again, how about Monaghan's statement:
"We're going to control the cable television that comes in the area. There is not going to be any pornographic television in Ave Maria Town."
Guess that right will be contracted away also... along with the right to watch CNN, or have the New York Times delivered to one's door. Then again, I guess one could contractually give Monaghan the right to open one's mail -- there might be a copy of Playboy inside.
11.12.2005 12:47am
civil truth (mail):
In my observations of various communities and reading about other communities and groups, the key issue I see that defines benign or malignant results is accountability of the power holders.

In stable communities like the Amish (which in the Anabaptist tradition are anti-hierarchical), there are checks and balances to prevent excessive concentration of power. Where communities go bad is when one person in a position of power who is not accountable to a greater power authority (i.e. is accountable only to self or "God") gets corrupted and starts to violate boundaries and taking an increasing degree of ownership of other people's lives and uses their power to assert that ownership in a progressively more controlling fashion.

The consequence ultimately is that either the individual self-destructs (often via sexual misconduct) or the community is led into self-destruction, leading at a minimum to serious psychological damage to the community members and in severe cases, to sexual crimes, physical injury, deaths, or in the most extreme cases, mass murder/suicide. The more physically separated the community is from the surrounding world, the higher the risk of a violent outcome. And unfortunately, the more benevolent the original intent, the more perverse the corruption tends to result (if things do go bad). Again, though, it's the unaccountability that leads to destruction.

The elements that concern me here with Ava Maria are the phyical separation of the community from the surrounding communities and the fact that one individual appears to be setting the rules with little or no accountability, and that he seems to be the sole arbitrater of authentic Catholicism. The danger is if Mr. Monighan starts to take excessive ownership of the lives of the students and faculty, continually purging dissent. The power structure will be key.
11.12.2005 12:55am
JoeW:
For those interested, the web site is at the following www.avemaria.com. This thing is really being built (I was under the impression this was a fantasy.)

What's interesting is that you have to read between the lines to determine how they are creating this place. One thing is clear; it is the same thing as a planned, gated community. One big clue is in the FAQ, which states that they will be "working with" the Collier County Sheriff's Office. This means that the place is, indeed, built entirely on privately owned land.

It also presents information about commercial opportunities, but mentions that office space is leased, not purchased. The lease agreements will not doubt come with severe limitations, much like what happens in airports. (This is why Monaghan keeps mentioning that they'll "control" the commercial real estate; to assure interested parties that they won't be surprised.)

Residential lots will clearly have heavy covenant and deed restrictions.

Another interesting tidbit is the portion about "Rural Stewardship." It's clear that what they've done is create a large buffer zone around the community.

I really don't see any major constitutional issues here and for good reason; it really is a private enterprise. Again, I think it will initially be very successful. A few people will get fed up and leave and give exposes to the press (as has happened at Celebration.)

Again, in the long run, it will become very self-selecting. The only people who will live there will be people who want to live there and societal pressure will force those who don't play the game to leave. Ironically, if history holds true to form, the first residents will likely find it growing too conservative even for them!

I think it will be fascinating to see how this works out.
11.12.2005 3:17am
Cecilius:
Mark J.

The Left and Right are clumsy terms. Many on each side would like to eliminate the perceived "wackos" in their ranks, but we're often stuck with them. As a Republican, it's pretty tiresome to see the media portray Pat Robertson as speaking for all of us. And I'm sure there's plenty on the other side who'd love to see Michael Moore just go away.
11.12.2005 8:08am
Cornellian (mail):
As a Republican, it's pretty tiresome to see the media portray Pat Robertson as speaking for all of us. And I'm sure there's plenty on the other side who'd love to see Michael Moore just go away.

It would be a bit harder for the media to do that if Republicans would make a greater effort to repudiate Robertson. Ditto for the "other side" and Moore.
11.12.2005 8:35am
Visitor Again:
It doesn't bother me if people want to set up their own private town to suit their religious beliefs (unless those beliefs include unlawful discrimination). That's freedom of association. But I do care about its constitutional consequences.

Only a couple of readers have mentioned Marsh v. Alabama, which held that a privately owned company town could not bar leafleteers from the streets because the town's streets and stores were open to the general public, i.e., outsiders. In these circumstances, the first amendment prevailed over private property interests.

Monaghan would have to be very careful about controlling access to his private religious town. If it is not a prpetually gated community with strictly controlled access at all times, the town will be subject to first amendment requirements. Outsiders might be able to visit on guided tours or on special invitation from residents, but not otherwise. Businesses within the private town could not accept customers from without the town.

Monaghan should also be concerned that Marsh might not be the last word on when private towns become subject to first amendment freedoms. Marsh might not be extended or read more broadly, i.e., private ownership might be held to yield to the first amendment in certain circumstances even if outsiders are not given general access to the town.

What if operating the town becomes so enmeshed with local government that it becomes part of that government? What if the town is designated an electoral district which has its own representative on the local county government body? What if the town uses all the available local county governmental services? What if some of the governmental services--e.g., fire department, police department, health and safety department, building department, elementary schools--have facilities within the private town? What if the local government body enacts some laws specifically directed at and for the benefit of the private town" And so on.
11.12.2005 9:56am
Visitor Again:
Correcting my blooper from the above message:

Marsh might not be extended or read more broadly, i.e., private ownership might be held to yield to the first amendment in certain circumstances even if outsiders are not given general access to the town.
11.12.2005 10:07am
Anon7 (mail):
As a Republican, it's pretty tiresome to see the media portray Pat Robertson as speaking for all of us. And I'm sure there's plenty on the other side who'd love to see Michael Moore just go away.

Huge difference. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid do no ask Michael Moore for advice. Bush has given Robertson private audiences.
11.12.2005 10:19am
Cecilius:
Anon7:

Apparently that was a figment of our collective imaginations when Michael Moore was prominantly seated at the "President's Box" alongside Jimmy Carter at the DNC convention. While Bush may have given Robertson private audiences (although I have never heard of any), he is hardly the mascot of the RNC the way some Dems have embraced their associated wingnuts like Moore, Cindy Sheehan, and George Lakoff. And this has certainly put off many rank-and-file Dem voters.
11.12.2005 11:26am
Anon7 (mail):
Are you really trying to compare a political rally, where Moore was invited by someone who hasn't held a position in the Democratic Party in 23 years, to a private audience with the current President just before the Iraq War (which touched off the "zero casualties" debate)? Moore should have been blocked at the convention door, but it is not even close to the same thing.
11.12.2005 12:29pm
Nathan Hall (mail):
What exactly does experience with pornography or contraceptives have to do with skill as a lawyer? This isn't some sweeping "refusal to engage the outside world," but a rejection of certain narrowly defined aspects of it. Are those who eschew sexual immorality of our own volition at a more secular school equally handicapped in the practice of law?
11.12.2005 2:17pm
Public_Defender:
It sounds weird and creepy to me, too. But then, one of the great things about this country is that you have the freedom to be weird. Of course, the price for the freedom to be weird is that you can't complain when other people call you weird.

I wouldn't want to go there, but I don't see the harm if one law school wants to experiment with something like this. It is a risk, though.
11.12.2005 2:47pm
Michael B (mail):
The "tolerance" being afforded the Amish and Mennonite communities is comforting, though those are responses to a parenthetical note only. The primary questions, reproduced immediately below, pertain to what we actually do know, not that what we merely know should interfere, in the least, with our culturally encrypted certitudes and ideologically endowed dogmas:

... the term "control" has been siezed upon both here and in Althouse's venue as well. It's interesting ... because in doing so it allows one to attempt control of the debate. What has been established about this term "control" as applied to Ave Maria? As applied to Monaghan? As applied to others' choices and liberties? As applied to the debate as a whole?

What we know, for those who did not check the links, is both minimal and tentative - it's largely gleaned from a speech of Monaghan's from 18 months ago. (And Monaghan is the chief benefactor and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the law school, not a dictator who exercises "absolute power" (anon7) or who is going to make "all the decisions for everyone" (civil truth). But it's understandable such distortionist claims are made - in order to justify the creepy, even contemptuous, intolerance variously exemplified herein.) Additionally, much of what we know of this Ave Maria School of Law can be discovered by following that link. Doing so will lead to discoveries including 1) distinguished, socially involved board members, 2) some of Juan Non-Volokh's "insulated from the outside world" aka Katrina relief, 3) yet more of that "insulated from the outside world" stuff, 4) inspired by John Paul's Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason, as if!), etc.

Am not Catholic, Amish, Mennonite or an ideological secularist snob and presumptive; I merely attempt to be tolerant within reasonable bounds. Those bounds can be variously debated, obviously, but they don't include forwarding a "Jonestown" smear of a law school in high standing simply because it has some noted religious affiliation and wants to control some aspects of its environment. But it can't be easy displaying one's bigotries under the banner of "tolerance", that requires, naively or otherwise, a certain felicitous and energetic use of the language.
11.12.2005 5:28pm
jgshapiro (mail):
Here is a question that I don't think has been addressed:

If Ave Maria LS is relocated to its own little enclave, will it lose ABA accreditation? See, e.g., www.abanet.org/legaled/standards/chapter1.html

There are a number of standards that might come into play, but Standard 105 (Major Change in Program or Structure) seems to indicate that the move would require approval of the ABA accreditation council and that approval would come "only if the law school establishes that the change will not detract from the law school's ability to meet the requirements of the Standards." Could they possibly meet that requirement? How could moving a law school to their own private Idaho not detract from its ability to otherwise meet the standards? What happens to it if it loses ABA accreditation?

Another standard that might come into play is Standard 210 (Equality of Opportunity) if admission was in any way restricted to Catholics -- let alone 'authentic' Catholics -- or denied to members of other religions or gays. I presume that is not their current policy since they already have ABA accreditation, but you have to wonder whether their admissions policies, faculty, or curriculum will change with this type of move. At the very least, I would guess it would be harder for them to recruit or retain decent faculty.
11.12.2005 5:39pm
jgshapiro (mail):
Well, the link didn't work. Let me try again. http://www.abanet.org/legaled/standards/chapter1.html
11.12.2005 5:41pm
Guest60 (mail):
Ahem, apparently Mr. Monaghan neither knows nor cares that there are plenty of therapeutic uses for birth control pills that have nothing to do with preventing pregnancy? That birth control pills are prescribed even for women with tubal ligations (another no-no for him, I'd suspect) or who have had hysterectomies because of their therapeutic value in treating other conditions?

Nope. Seems as if some people can't get past their own narrow views that a woman who uses birth control is some sort of libertine who wants sexual freedom without fear of pregnancy. Too bad to any Ava Maria woman who has PCOD, endometriosis or many other hormonal imbalance conditions that are best addressed through hormonal therapy (unless one wants surgery to remove the "offending parts").
11.12.2005 9:00pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
Well you folks might consider the example of the Benedictan monastery. They have successfully navigated such waters for one and one half millenia. I visited one once when considering the monastic life, and I actually did find it creepy, probably because there were no women. Now the abbott of a monastery does have nearly governmental control over the monastery. The individual monks don't own anything and they are subject to the Rule of Benedict. If the Supreme Court declares monasteries unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds, I say: Nine ropes, some scaffolding, nine Justices, some assembly required. Hey, did I just engage in ridiculous hyperbole?

I find the Jonestown comparison to be ridiculously hyperbolic as well. Ave Maria sounds more like Plymouth Bay to me, and a very good idea. I'd like to form a Protestant version.

Yours,
Wince
11.12.2005 11:24pm
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
jgshapiro stated:
Here is a question that I don't think has been addressed:

If Ave Maria LS is relocated to its own little enclave, will it lose ABA accreditation?
It appears that the school will lose its ABA accreditation if it does not first obtain the "acquiescence" of the ABA. Standard 105 provides:
Before a law school makes a major change in its program of legal education or organizational structure it shall obtain the acquiescence of the Council for the change. Subject to the additional requirements of subsections (1) and (2), acquiescence shall be granted only if the law school establishes that the change will not detract from the law school's ability to meet the requirements of the Standards.

(1) If the proposed major change is the establishment of a degree program other than the J.D. degree, the law school must also establish that it meets the requirements of Standard 308.

(2) If the proposed major change involves instituting a new full-time or part-time division, merging or affiliating with one or more approved or unapproved law schools, acquiring another law school or educational institution, or opening a Branch or Satellite campus, the law school must also establish that the law school is in compliance with the Standards or that the proposed major change will substantially enhance the law school's ability to comply with the Standards.
Standard 105.

Significantly, Interpretation 105-1(15) provides:
Interpretation 105-1:
Major changes in the program of legal education or the organizational structure of a law school include:

* * *

(15) A change in the location of the school that could result in substantial changes in the faculty, administration, student body or management of the school.
Interpretation 105-1(15)

To me the more interesting issue is whether the school could (or for that matter, does in fact) discriminate based on sexual orientation. Standard 210 generally provides that a qualifying law school may not discriminate based on sexual orientation. However, Standard 210(e) more specifically provides:
(e) This Standard does not prevent a law school from having a religious affiliation or purpose and adopting and applying policies of admission of students and employment of faculty and staff which directly relate to this affiliation or purpose so long as (i) notice of these policies has been given to applicants, students, faculty, and staff before their affiliation with the law school, and (ii) the religious affiliation, purpose, or policies do not contravene any other Standard, including Standard 405(b) concerning academic freedom. These policies may provide a preference for persons adhering to the religious affiliation or purpose of the law school, but shall not be applied to use admission policies or take other action to preclude admission of applicants or retention of students on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or sexual orientation. This Standard permits religious policies as to admission, retention, and employment only to the extent that they are protected by the United States Constitution. It is administered as if the First Amendment of the United States Constitution governs its application.
Standard 210(e). Thus, the question is whether the school has a First Amendment associational right to discriminate against gays in admission, hiring, etc. It appears that ABA does not think so, because Interepretation 210-3 provides:
As long as a school complies with the requirements of Standard 210(e), the prohibition concerning sexual orientation does not require a religiously affiliated school to act inconsistently with the essential elements of its religious values and beliefs. For example, it does not require a school to recognize or fund organizations whose purposes or objectives with respect to sexual orientation conflict with the essential elements of the religious values and beliefs held by the school. (August 1994; August 1996)
Interpretation 210(3)

I'm not sure Interpretation 210(3) is consistent with Standard 210(e) in that Interpretation 210(3) appears to assume that gays have a right to be admitted to and hired by the school. I'm not at all sure they have that right. On the contrary, it appears that the school would have a First Amendedment Associational right to exclude gays. See Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640, 120 S.Ct. 2446, 147 L.Ed.2d 554 (2000). Further, as I recall, sexual orientation is not (yet) a protected classification (or at least not a fully protected classification) for the purpose of 14th Amendment equal protection analysis.
11.12.2005 11:38pm
fred (mail):
For those who oppose the idea of Ave Maria Town: When do you propose we invade Salt Lake City and require that Mormons to stop imposing their culture? They have done the exact thing that Monaghan proposes.

I grew up in a town in MN that was founded by socialists right after world war II. They instituted a municipal gas service, and built cooperative housing. After a few years the socialist dream died because, of course, it was impractical. But at least they lived in a county that let them be free enough to try to live life the way they wanted to live it.

They wanted to live life their way. What's wrong with that? When did freedom become so little valued in this country?

When did the unofficial national motto morph from "Live and let live" into "You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile"

America used to believe in freedom. Now it believes in sameness. We used to hear people say "Well, it's a free country" when someone did something they didn't agree with. Now, they call the authorities.

The people of Ave Maria Town will hardly be separated from the world - anymore than Cambridge is separated from Boston. They're not trying to impose on anyone, they're not trying to become isolated and monkish. They're just trying to ameliorate the caustic effects - to the degree possible - of modern life on their children. If you haven't noticed a general lowering of standards in the last 20 years, a decline in common civility and a spread of scum on television and media, you've been asleep.

At least they're doing something about it. As far as I can tell, most people are just accepting all of the social detioration like a bunch of sheep.
11.13.2005 12:11am
Medis:
I find the dynamic of these comments very interesting. One the one hand, you have people suggesting that they find this vision of a community "creepy" (or other versions of expressing that they find it unappealing). On the other hand, you have people saying the critics of Ave Maria Town are being intolerant and we should respect their freedom to pursue their own vision of the good life (and other versions of such sentiments, like the implication that we want to invade by force and assimilate these people).

But, of course, these are not really mutually exclusive views, as several of the commentators have expressed. Indeed, obviously the very idea of Ave Maria Town is that these people do not find appealing the sorts of communities that some of us do find appealing. In other words, it seems odd to me that people would be accused of unfair intolerance for criticizing Ave Maria Town, given that the people building Ave Maria Town are explicitly criticizing our communities.

But, of course, having the freedom to live in a community that suits your values and tastes is not the same thing as having an immunity to criticism for those values and tastes. In general, the fact that you have a legal right to do something does not mean that we cannot express any disapproval of how you exercise that right--indeed, a preference for private debate and efforts to persuade over the use of state coercion is one of the many reasons to favor the legal right.
11.13.2005 8:42am
jgshapiro (mail):
Mr. Chapman:

My question regarding ABA approval of the move is really addresed to the application of Standard 105. There is no question that they would need ABA approval to make the move, or they would lose their accreditation. Standard 105 states that approval would come "only if the law school establishes that the change will not detract from the law school's ability to meet the requirements of the Standards."

The real question is (assuming they do not decide to discriminate against gays in admission, which is an entirely different question), could they still meet the other standards after the move?
11.13.2005 2:48pm
Public_Defender:
As I said above, I think the idea is creepy and weird, but that people should generally have the right to be creepy and weird. That said, the school will have a lot less control than it thinks.

Students can order the birth control online and have it mailed. If the school tries to restrict internet access, students can just get dial up accounts using cell phones if needed.

The school might also pay a price in terms of finding faculty willing to live in such an isolated environment. That will be interesting.

And I agree that "Jonestown" is pejoritive, but it was an Ave Maria faculty member who coinded the phrase. Perhaps the professor meant that the school was committing suicide by the venture.

All that said, the concept seems more Stepford than Jonestown.
11.13.2005 4:25pm
Randy R. (mail):
I wonder for what purpose would you go to this law school? There are tons of law schools already out there. why do we need another? And how does being an "authentic catholic" make you better in the courtroom, or at drafting a will? I just don't get the point.

Worse, law school should be a period where you can have lively discussions. Who is going to argue liberal view points? Unless you can practice sparring with opponents, you really don't get to be a great lawyer. (The same can be said for liberal law schools, but even most liberal law schools have at least a few conservatives to argue with.)
11.13.2005 10:47pm
Michael B (mail):
There undeniably is a Stepford-like quality evidenced in this thread, and proudly so.
11.13.2005 11:36pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
Those who think a purely Catholic education won't have much in the way of discussion should consider Aquinas way back in the late feudal period, and then look sheepish.

Yours,
Wince
11.14.2005 12:40am
Eric (mail):
My problem with this whole ordeal basically centers around two premises:

First of all, I find it hard to swallow that a genuinely Catholic education can take place in a some sort of "commune". I think an "us against them" mentality would quickly develop that would really hinder Ave Maria students from having any legitimate impact on the legal profession. Quite frankly, Monaghan's plan sounds more like Calvin's Geneva than a place based upon the Catholic social justice teachings.

Second, there are plenty of ways to object to this without using a strictly libertarian premise. I believe St. Thomas said a little bit about how over-regulating certain activities can cause harm greater than the good intended. In other words, because of the fallen nature of man, utopias, secular or religious, aren't possible. I also have a real problem with centralized control of all commercial enterprises. Keep in mind that I generally think that there can be legitimate regulations on pornography and so forth without violating the constitution. Nonetheless, insulating law students from vice just seems absurd. I think people sometimes want to try and create a past that never really existed in the same way that the Romanticize it. Besides, what if I want to watch an episode of South Park? I think the show is pretty vile--but I like the political satire.

The bottom line is that if Monaghan forces the school down there the same way he forced Charlie Rice off of the board, it'll go down the crapper.

Eric
11.14.2005 12:28pm
Bella:
Ave Maria School of Law has such a short history, that to compare it to the University of Michigan Law School (or most other law schools) is ludicrous. Check out their numbers and compare. How may students with lower than average LSAT scores and GPAs have been enticed to attend with their generous monetary aid? Answer..many. And some leave after discovering what the school says in their mission statement and code of conduct is what they mean. Do not delude yourself....this is Monaghan's vision of God's Law before Man's Law; his vision of Catholicism.
So be it..live and let live...buyer beware and forwarned.
We will be watching this grandiose experiment with a great deal of debate.
What I am most interested in is....does Justice Scalia have a hand or voice in this plan? He is a frequent speaker at Ave Maria and was a consultant to Monaghan on the establishment and cirriculum of the law school.
11.15.2005 12:39pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
You left off the detail that will make Ave Maria Town a really Catholic place--no zoning requirements for liquor stores!
11.16.2005 2:47pm
Shawn (mail):
Worth noting is the Del Webb retirement community and other non-education related aspects. It's more than a school.

They may be able to filter the cable provider but not the internet. Without the threat of force, for example, the Chinese government would be unable to prevent citizens from surfing the full range of information out there. (Filtering software is easily spoofed.) And once you have full internet access, you have full acess to all the television and porn dowloads you can handle.

Also, this place is about a 2 hour drive from Disney World and an hour from Ft Lauderdale/Miami. Ft Myers has a ferry service right to hedonistic Key West. On the other hand, Naples and the surrounding area is somewhat conservative and wealthy. I think it'll fit in just fine.

What will be interesting is to see how Pulte Homes, Del Webb, the local cable company (Brighthouse/Time Warner?), and other national firms handle the restrictions that are imposed, if any. It can't be good publicity, for example, if Verizon DSL filters all town service based on a catholic black-list.
11.16.2005 5:11pm
Shawn (mail):
Looking at the site plan... it appears as if the town has a moat. That's amusing.
11.16.2005 5:20pm
mark:
I'm a current student at Ave Maria Law. To add some perspective, most of the students and faculty are very opposed to the move, although it may be a foregone conclusion. Ann Arbor is a good place for us to be engaged with broader culture. I think if we relocated to Monaghan's Catholic Disneyland we wouldn't attract quite the same mix of students we have now. I certainly wouldn't have come to the Ave Maria Law-Florida.

Someone said, why don't they just have an honor code that reflects Catholic values? We do, the relevant portion here says we're supposed to act "chastely" and this was controversial among the students. But the administration clarified saying that it simply means we conform to our own idea of "chaste". Oddly relativist for such an institution but it did make me feel better.

To the person who said why would anyone go to this law school, and don't you need people to argue liberal viewpoints, there are a fair number of liberals here, about as many as there are conservatives at liberal law schools I guess. But that would change if we moved.
11.18.2005 3:20am