Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!
Thursday, December 27, 2007
In conjunction with the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) convention in New York City, Ave Maria School of Law will be hosting a reception on Thursday January 3, 2008 from 6:30 - 8:00 pm at the New York Athletic Club, 180 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019.
It will be Semi-Formal to Formal and will be a great opportunity to come out and support the Law School. Dean Dobranski and Katie O'Beirne (pictured above) and their friends on the Board of Governors invite you to join them for this fun-filled evening!
Friday, December 21, 2007
From: Murphy, Mollie
Sent: Fri 12/21/2007 4:03 PM
To: All Law System Distribution; All Alumni
Subject: Professor Falvey
We wish to express our tremendous gratitude to Professor Joe Falvey for everything that he has done for Ave Maria School of Law. We are honored to count him among our friends. Since the very beginning of Ave Maria School of Law, Professor Falvey has provided great leadership, excellence in teaching, a peerless example of faith and reason, and integrity. We think it is fair to say that the Law School's success has been due in no small part to his efforts.
His departure is a great loss to the Law School. We will miss him as a faculty colleague and we are saddened that our students will no longer have him here as a teacher and mentor. Ave Maria will not be the same without him. May God bless him and his family as he pursues new opportunities.
Mollie A. Murphy & Richard S. Myers
The Ave Maria School of Law has undergone more than its fair share of sad events over the course of its infancy. We've seen ruthless oustings and firings, harm to the community, and the undoing of much of the gains from the first several years of the school's existence.
Today marks a very sad event in the seemingly never-ending chain of problems at the Ave Maria School of Law. Professor Joseph Falvey has resigned his position at Ave Maria.
Those who know Colonel Falvey know of his St. Joseph-like demeanor, as well as the fact that he is the very embodiment of St. Francis' words, "Preach the Gospel always, and when necessary use words." Colonel Falvey demonstrates - always - a quiet integrity and an adamantine moral center. From the way he conducted himself as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs - doing the heavy lifting to help the school achieve accreditation and develop a top-notch academic program - to his silent carrying of the many crosses that come with helping create a brighter future for foster children, Colonel Falvey exemplifies the type of professor that Ave Maria should seek to keep in its fold at any cost.
Colonel Falvey has served his country bravely, even leaving his post at the Ave Maria School of Law for a time after September 11. His trial experience and skill were a tremendous asset to the law school, and those it seeks to send out into the world to be competent lawyers. More importantly, his very example of Christian living - as faithful Catholic, dedicated father, and trusted leader - was itself a tremendous gift to the Community, a community that seeks to be leaven in the legal world.
I will not spend time speculating about the reasons for Colonel Falvey's departure. Suffice it to say that, if the vision our Founding Faculty signed on to was still in place, I doubt he would be going anywhere.
There may be, today, obstinate and obtuse members of the law school's governing body who are relieved. They are likely relieved that they need not develop a contrived reason to oust Colonel Falvey from the faculty. These may be the same people who, when Colonel Falvey resigned as Dean of Academic Affairs, thought it was "no big loss." Make no mistake, however. The gains and successes of the law school's early years would not have been so great were it not for Colonel Falvey's unwavering leadership and ability. His resignation says quite a bit about the direction of the school.
Every student who today loses another opportunity to learn from a great professor and man - the list of such lost opportunities stretching back to Professor Rice's removal - has just been cheated unfairly by those who refuse to live out their Christian obligations toward their brothers and sisters in Christ.
We wish you every blessing and success in the next chapter of your life, Colonel Falvey. You have been a great example to all of us, and you will be missed at Ave Maria. Thank you for all you have done for the law school and for each of us and our families.
From: Dobranski, Bernard
Sent: Fri 12/21/2007 11:32 AM
To: All Law System Distribution; All Alumni
Subject: Personnel Update
To the Faculty, Staff, and Students of Ave Maria School of Law:
Professor Joe Falvey will be leaving the Law School at the end of this Semester to pursue other professional opportunities. We wish Professor Falvey all the best as he moves on to the next phase of his career as an attorney and teacher. In turn, Professor Falvey passes on his prayers, best wishes, and fond regards for all of his colleagues and students at Ave Maria School of Law.
'Twas the night before Christmas, at AMSOL of all schools,
All us 1L's were typing like half-crazy fools.
Transfer applications were completed with care,
In hopes by next fall we wouldn't be there.
Bernie and Tom were nestled snug in their beds,
While visions of motion 12(b)(6) danced in their heads;
And their wives (may God Bless them for hanging in with these chaps),
Were in need of more than just a little nightcap.
When out in student parking, there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my carrel to see what was the matter.
Away from my Windows Explorer, I flew like a flash,
And ran to the back door where they take out the trash.
The moonlight was dim so I couldn't see far,
Like a Fumarist squinting through smoke behind his cigar.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear?
But a battered old Volvo - sans working heater.
With a middle-aged driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Safranek.
More rapid than eagles from the back seat children came,
And while they threw snowballs and shouted, he called them by name:
"Now grab all those boxes and bags in the trunk,
And be very, very quiet or our plan will be sunk.
To the top of the porch and then the top of the wall
Be careful now kids, and please try not to fall!"
As fast as appellate brief drafts into shredders do fly,
(While legal writing "instructors" try hard not to cry,)
To the top of the school, the kids they all flew,
With some bags full of gifts, and an 'outta breath Steve, too.
And then, in a twinkling, on the roof through the gloom,
I heard a small voice say, "Daddy, I need to use the bathroom."
As I shook my head -- glad to be on the ground,
Down a heating vent came Safranek, with his kids all 'round.
He was dressed all in sweats, from head down to toe,
And his kids were all covered in dust and in snow.
A bundle of gifts he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! His dimples -- how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose frozen red like a cherry!
But, he still wore his tie all tied up like a bow,
And his 5 o'clock shadow was beginning to grow.
He was pretty darn fit for having been put back on the shelf,
And I laughed when I saw him (but just to myself);
Though he had slightly blood-shot eyes and a baseball cap on his head,
He soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
Going straight to his office, he filled boxes with papers and staples,
Faster than real estate prices can drop down in Naples.
Sprinting to the Ad Wing, he stopped by the office of Orsi,
To give him a two volume set of CST and a little stick-horsey.
A leather-bound tome was for Eugene Milhizer,
"The Strategical Tactics of Wilhelm the Kaiser."
For the Dean, a very, very short Westlaw Publication:
"Good Reasons for Risking ABA Accreditation."
For Tom, a tiger-striped bow-tie and a big lump of coal,
'Cause he hadn't been a good boy in court (but don't tell a soul).
In the stockings of others who gave Florida kudos and praise,
Their stockings he stuffed with their annual raise.
It was getting light by the time he was ready to fly up the vent,
Then came what I almost expected, more sex harassment.
Yes, imagine my shock when--without so much as a warning--
He put his hand on my arm and then (gulp!) wished me "Good Morning!"
He sprang towards his car, gave his kids a loud whistle,
And away he sped like an errant SCUD missile.
But I heard him exclaim, though now left with a pittance,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to some... well... Good Riddance!"
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
A Catholic tale I Have to tell!
And a Christian song I have to sing
While all the bells in Arundel ring.
I pray good beef and I pray good beer
This holy night of all the year,
But I pray detestable drink for them
That give no honour to Bethlehem.
May all good fellows that here agree
Drink Audit Ale in heaven with me,
And may all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
May all my enemies go to hell!
(Hilaire Belloc, The Four Men)
UPDATE: Special thanks to Sean P. Dailey, Editor of the American Chesterton Society's Gilbert Magazine and Proprietor of The Blue Boar for linking to this bit of homage to Belloc and the Christ Child during this jovial and happy time of year! For those of you who have enjoyed the punch of Dickens in the last post, read this post from Andrew Cusack on that wonderful drink called Audit Ale. Here is the opening, click the text to read the rest:
WITH THESE SIMPLE and lovely lines, the great Hilaire Belloc superbly expressed the esprit de Noël of the Christian curmudgeon. It amounts, more or less, to "Rend honor to the Holy Child, and to hell with the rest". His Lines for a Christmas Card are obviously meant in a jovial and light-hearted spirit (naturally, we Catholics would not wish Hell on any poor soul), and completely intelligible but for this curious line, "May all good fellows that here agree / Drink Audit Ale in heaven with me". What on earth is Audit Ale?
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
As the muted fast of Advent is quickly drawing to a close, great anticipation builds for the Christmas feast! One who understood the excitement and joy of Christmas anticipation was Charles Dickens. He is a most appropriate author for this time of year and part of our literary heritage for those of us of the English tongue. Most wonderful are these sentiments taken from his A Christmas Dinner. Do read this enjoyable tale of a family Christmas dinner:
Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused--in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened--by the recurrence of Christmas. There are people who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be; that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope, or happy prospect, of the year before, dimmed or passed away; that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes--of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the world, who cannot call up such thoughts any day in the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the blazing fire--fill the glass and send round the song--and if your room be smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass be filled with reeking punch, instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on the matter, and empty it off-hand, and fill another, and troll off the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it's no worse. Look on the merry faces of your children (if you have any) as they sit round the fire. One little seat may be empty; one slight form that gladdened the father's heart, and roused the mother's pride to look upon, may not be there. Dwell not upon the past; think not that one short year ago, the fair child now resolving into dust, sat before you, with the bloom of health upon its cheek, and the gaiety of infancy in its joyous eye. Reflect upon your present blessings--of which every man has many--not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Fill your glass again, with a merry face and contented heart. Our life on it, but your Christmas shall be merry, and your new year a happy one!
UPDATE: Fr. James Schall, S.J. has written an excellent piece that starts out with this quote from GKC. A great complement to the aforementioned:
Christmas . . . is one of numberless old European feasts of which the essence is the combination of religion with merry-making. But among those feasts it is also especially and distinctively English in the style of its merry-making and even in the style of its religion. For the character of Christmas (as distinct, for instance, from the continental Easter) lies chiefly in two things: first on the terrestrial side the note of comfort rather than the note of brightness and on the spiritual side, Christian charity rather than Christian ecstasy. --G. K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens, 1906
From: Dobranski, Bernard
Sent: Tue 12/18/2007 2:36 PM
To: All Law System Distribution; All Alumni
Subject: New Faculty
December 18, 2007
Dear Ave Maria School of Law Community,
I am delighted to announce the addition of two outstanding individuals to our faculty. I believe that both of these professionals will contribute to the strength of Ave Maria's academic program.
Professor Douglas A. Kahn, who has served as a member of our adjunct faculty for a number of years, will join us as a Visiting Professor of Law for the Spring 2008 semester. He will be teaching courses in Corporate and Federal Taxation.
Professor Kahn is a nationally renowned tax law expert, the co-author of several widely used casebooks, and the author numerous articles and book reviews on tax law. During his time at Ave Maria, Professor Kahn will continue to serve as the Paul G. Kauper Professor of Law at the University of Michigan School of Law.
Professor Kahn earned a B.A. at the University of North Carolina and a J.D. at the George Washington University School of Law.
Joining our faculty for the 2008-2009 Academic Year as an Assistant Professor of Law is W. Edward Afield. He will be teaching courses in taxation, among other subjects.
Professor Afield currently practices in the areas of taxation, corporate law, healthcare law and estate planning at the Tampa firm of Barnett, Bolt, Kirkwood, Long & McBride. He previously served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Charles R. Wilson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
Professor Afield earned an A.B. in History from Harvard College, a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law, and an LL.M. in taxation from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.
Dean Bernard Dobranski
From the tongue-in-cheek article:
We thought the whole point of Ave Maria Law School, founded by Domino's pizza founder Thomas Monaghan, was that with enough money, you can do whatever you want. E.g., establish a very conservative, Catholic law school, and not care if the liberal legal academy raises its eyebrows -- 'cause you could buy and sell them, several times over.
So doesn't it defeat the whole point if Ave Maria requires funding from sources beyond Monaghan's pile of pizza dough? .....
Ave Maria is already in turmoil: controversy over its move from Michigan to Florida, lawsuits filed by three professors who claim they were wrongfully terminated, an ongoing investigation by the American Bar Association. A suggestion that Tom Monaghan's coffers are not infinite could not come at a worse time.
Monday, December 17, 2007
What are some possible names for the new law building which you would enjoy seeing? "The Mel Gibson School of Law at Ave Maria University"? (Which is a nice suggestion courtesy of Mr. David W., if I do say so myself.) Personally, I think the "The Chiquita Banana Hall of Justice, Ave Maria School of Law" has a very pleasant cadence.
Or if you were a big donor, what would you name the new law building? Heck, if we take up a collection and make a large donation, maybe Mr. Tom Monaghan would accept the winning name from this contest and you could be famous!
So, readers of Fumare, go ahead and NAME THAT NEW LAW BUILDING!
From: Dobranski, BernardThe National Law Journal article can be found here, but it is only accessible to premium subscribers.
Sent: Mon 12/17/2007 11:56 AM
To: All Law System Distribution; All Alumni
Subject: National Law Journal Article
The National Law Journal published an article today with an extremely misleading statement. The article indicates that we are willing to sell the law school name for the money to finance the new law school facility in Florida. This is not correct. The Ave Maria School of Law name is not for sale for any sum, and the name will not be changed for any reason, financial or otherwise. It is who we are.
Like many academic institutions, including law schools, we are open to the naming of the law school building to house the Ave Maria School of Law for an appropriate donor who wishes to help with the construction costs of that building. That is a far cry, however, from the selling of the naming rights to the law school itself.
UPDATE: The article is available for free here.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Today, December 16th, is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party - an American Tax Protest that contributed to the liberation of America.
Today, December 16th 2007, is another Tea Party to protest the most regressive and immoral tax in place today - the Inflation Tax.
Have you ever heard the complaint that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer? Well the reason why is the inflation tax.
An inflation tax is a metaphor for the economic disadvantage suffered by holders of cash and cash equivalents in one denomination of currency due to the effects of inflation, which acts as a hidden tax that subtracts value from those assets. Among the negative effects of inflation tax is that it affects the middle and lower class the most. When governments raise revenue by printing notes and bills they increase the amount of money available in the economy. Through a change in real money balances this causes inflation. Financing expenditure in this way is called seignorage and the effect of increasing the money supply and causing the holders of money to pay an inflation tax is the most obvious cost of inflation.
Today, independent supporters of Ron Paul have organized a Tea Party to focus national attention on this issue by inviting Americans to give donations today. The huge amount of money raised today will force the main stream media to focus on Ron Paul, the inflation tax and the problems we are facing as a result of this structural injustice.
When the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates to try to avert a recession, what it does is print more money out of thin air and pump it into the stream of commerce. The first people to get that fresh money (banks, the government and big business special interests) get the benefit of the full value of that money before the market adjusts to the increased money supply with inflation. When you and I get hold of that money, it has lost value and our savings lose value as the dollar is debased as a matter of policy. The aggregate effect of this process is that the nation's wealth gravitates from the middle class and poor to the financial elites in our society.
America's greatest threat is not Islamic Facism, it is the fiscal policies that are destroying America and most especially the middle class.
If you love America, please consider donating today to be part of this historic day.
Watch the live graph of the money pouring into the campaign at an amazing rate.
It is about 9:15 am est and they have already rasied clost to 1.5 million since midnight!
Restore the Republic!
Go Ron Pau!
Friday, December 14, 2007
Tell a Catholic convert that he has lost his liberty and he will laugh...A Catholic has fifty times more feeling of being free than a man caught in the net of the nervous compromises of Anglicanism...He has the range of two thousand years full of twelve hundred thousand controversies, thrashed out by thinker against thinker, school against school, guild against guild, nation against nation, with no limit except the fundamental logical fact that the things were worth arguing, because they could ultimately be solved and settled.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
As for me, I'll just sit back and watch the carnage in the comboxes!
Docs: here, here and here.
AveWatch analysis here.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Q: Why is this Encyclopedia necessary now?
Myers: There have been pleas from successive popes that efforts should be made to make the Church's social teaching better known. This encyclopedia is very much a response to that call.
The message of Catholic social teaching is timeless in a way, because it is an effort to bring the Gospel message to bear on the realities of social life. But I do think there is particular urgency to present this teaching at this time.
Pope John Paul II spoke frequently about the crisis in the modern world. There is a widespread sense that we are at A great turning point in world history. The Church's social teaching has much to offer in shaping the hearts and minds of all individuals of good will and in shaping the culture.
The encyclopedia is also necessary because there is literally nothing else like it available.
However, in contrast to the narrow vision of man offered by the modern world, the social teaching of the Church offers man a vision of great grandeur. It emphasizes man's eternal destiny, and the need for us to pursue holiness and the perfection of charity in this world.
It is in the practical day-to-day world that we have an obligation to promote this richer vision of man and the Church's social teaching provides the way in which to think about how this ought to be done.
Monday, December 10, 2007
The U.S. Justice Department on Friday asked a judge to dismiss the remaining criminal charge pending against former Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino, ending one of the most unusual and controversial criminal cases ever brought in Detroit.
If approved as expected, the motion means the former star prosecutor who faced federal indictment over his handling of a high-profile 2003 terrorism trial has been cleared of all charges.
It means Convertino is free to proceed with a whistleblower lawsuit he filed against the Justice Department, alleging he was punished for speaking out about a lack of resources for the government's war on terror. That civil case has been on hold pending the resolution of the criminal charges.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
It is always nice to see former members of the AMSL community who have escaped from Monaghania achieving success elsewhere. Former AMSL Professor Bridgette Carr, who is now at Notre Dame, was recently featured on the "Today" Show and on a MSNBC special television report about human trafficking. Congratulations, Professor Carr!
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Canon 1370, para. 2: [Qui vim physicam adhibet] in eum qui episcopali charactere pollet, in interdictum latae sententiae et, si sit clericus, etiam in suspensionem latae sententiae incurrit.
Englishly: "[One who uses physical force] against a bishop incurs a latae sententiae interdict and, if a cleric, he incurs also a latae sententiae suspension."
Based upon the forgoing, it would seem that some poor soul out there has incurred the penalty of interdict for handing the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles a knuckle sandwich. While I would never encourage the striking of a Cardinal Archbishop (given the canonical penalties that one would incur), there is something poetic about the act that should warm the hearts of sane fathers everywhere. If Dante were alive, one could imagine a modern day Inferno where the former Cardinal Archbishop of Boston and the current Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles (among other bishops) would be put placed in the ring of the deceivers. There they would, for an endless eternity, play out their fate over and over again:
As I walked still lower, I beheld a strange sight;
yet not so strange for the terrestrial world from which I came, a mailbox.
I beheld a figure clad in scarlet, the robes of the Roman clergy.
The face was sullen and the head was swollen.
I said, "O you, there, with your head bent low, if the features of your shade do not deceive me, you are Roger Mahony, I am sure. Deliveries for the next conference of lay ecclesial ministers?"
With that, I was interrupted by a thunderous report.
"Chingado, Chingado!" Shouts of a giant, as if wronged, came upon the cleric like unto harpies swooping hither and thither.
My guide led me to safety in the side of the rock. "Stop and see other mailboxes and other misbegotten souls."
Royal robes now scarlet of another type.
To my guide, sayeth I, "Our eyes have had their fill."
I invite Ed Peters to comment on canon 1370. My heartfelt apologies to Dante--lack of tercets and all that.
Sent: Thu 12/6/2007 3:25 PM
To: All Students; All Law School Personnel; All Alumni
Subject: Refer and win!
Don't you just love our students?
Aren't they the smartest, funniest, prettiest law students of them all?
Do you know someone who would love it here as well?
Here is your chance to assist our enrollment efforts for the Class of 2011
Refer a friend, a family member, a family member's friend (you get it...) and enter a drawing* to win a
This is our way of thanking you for your support!
To ensure that your name is entered into the drawing*, please request that the applicant add your name in the section V. B.
It's that simple!
So! While you spread the Christmas cheer, make sure you spread the word about Ave!
*The drawing will be held January 15, 2008
Who is this girl? Where is she? And why do I feel compelled to win an iPhone for her as a gift in order to cheer her up?
Today, December 6, is the feast of the original Santa Claus, the good Bishop of Myra.
Ora pro nobis.
Show your support for the Holy Father during his upcoming visit to the United States, or send them with your parish's World Youth Day pilgrims next July!
Order by December 14 to ensure delivery by Christmas (within the United States). And thanks for indulging the shameless plug!
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
From: Ave Maria Alumni Association
Date: Dec 5, 2007 1:00 PM
Subject: Alumni Board Election Results
The Ave Maria School of Law Alumni Association is pleased to welcome our three new Chairs.
Suzy Siegle (Housey) '03
John Drake '07
Matt Muggeridge '06
Our thanks to all those who participated in the election.
Have a blessed Advent season.
The Board of Directors of the Ave Maria School of Law Alumni Association
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
This is a hypothetical discussion. I am not concerned with the facts because there are all kinds of things that we just don't have knowledge of: for example, what anti-dean professors actually said, when they said it, what was the context, who was present, was it in a class setting or in private, and who found it disruptive. (I note that on the opposite side of the coin, there have also been allegations of pro-dean professors disparaging anti-dean faculty during class, with students finding that quite disruptive). This is a hypothetical discussion. It does not imply that anything happened or didn't happen in the classroom. (In my opinion, the allegations of anti-dean professors actually disrupting classes to instigate student rebellion are grossly exaggerated or untrue.)
Gunga Din's questions were:
"Should a law professor who instigates rebellion among students against the law school Dean, thereby undermining the institution, be fired?"
"Is instigating student rebellion against the law school dean enough to show "cause" for which a tenured professor can be terminated from employment?"
Here is my response.
To start, I think those questions are badly-worded (what is "instigation"? what is "student rebellion"?), so I have to approch Gunga Din's questions step by step.
1. Can a law professor's tenure be removed or denied because he vocally objected to the law school dean (for example, by a "no confidence" vote, blog post, or public statement to the media?)
I emphatically say "no." Interpretation 206-1 of the ABA standards reads: "The faculty or a representative body of it should have substantial involvement in the selection of a dean. Except in circumstances demonstrating good cause, a dean should not be appointed or reappointed to a new term over the stated objection of a substantial majority of the faculty."
This necessarily means that a law professor has a right to make a "stated objection" about the law school dean. From this, I think it's clear that the ABA standards do not contemplate the permissibility of a dean removing or denying tenure because a professor loudly stated an objection to the dean, via "no confidence," etc.
2. What if a professor uses classroom time to make these objections?
I think that you still can't remove or deny tenure. I believe the ABA considers the classroom to be the exclusive domain of the professor. I think that academic freedom permits a professor say a lot in the classroom, even things which might not be relevant to the curriculum. Also, for most law schools, classroom time is irrelevant (many professors don't require students to attend classroom time and it's generally considered a waste of time). All that matters is that the student write the exam at the end of the semester. Consider the number of liberal professors who use classroom time as their personal soapbox to object to the Iraq War or to President Bush. My impression is that as long as the professor grades an exam at the end of the semester and publishes papers, he's doing his job. Furthermore, as I argue in #1, objecting to the dean is a protected right for professors.
3. What if the professor uses classroom time not only to make these objections but to also instigate rebellion, to rile up students, and to encourage them to go out and "rebel against the law school dean"? Can you remove or deny tenure?
The problem I have here is that I don't know what exactly "instigating rebellion" means. First, in universities, free speech by adult students seems very protected. Student actions like writing letters to the dean or getting the SBA to ask the dean questions don't seem to me to be "rebellion" and seem to be legitimate actions that a dean can't object to because there is no disruption of classes. Heck, in the 1970s, law students were participating in all-out riots against the Vietnam war disrupting classes, and it didn't seem like the dean could object to the student actions (I'm not an expert or a historian, so I can be corrected on this.) Second, I would think there is a presumption that a professor is not responsible for the actions of students, because students are adults who are free to act as they want. Third, opposition to the dean's leadership, as I've already argued in #1, is a protected right of law professors. Gunga Din's questions imply that disloyalty to the dean "undermines" the school, which is not the case. In order to support the well-being of a university, an explicit demand for new leadership (and thus "disloyalty" to the current leadership) might be required and is protected.
In conclusion, hypothetically speaking, even if a professor used classroom time to rile students up in order to oppose the dean, I don't think you could remove or deny tenure to the professor.
Gunga Din, where am I wrong?
[I reserve the right to edit comments that distract from the discussion.]
Monday, December 03, 2007
Don't be fooled. Philip Pullman is an outpoken atheist and his trilogy is an attack on the Catholic Church. Pullman has said in an interview: "What I'm doing is utterly different [from Tolkien]. Tolkien would have deplored it. .... I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief. Mr. [C.S.] Lewis would think I was doing the Devil's work."
In the books, the main enemy is called the "Magisterium." God is called "The Authority," is bad, and happens to die at the end of the story. In one of the later books, a main character, a former nun, says "The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all."
Disturbing. Much of the overtly religious references in The Golden Compass have been deleted from the movie:
Director Chris Weitz has said he cut controversial religious content to make the film more commercially viable, with the plan of being more faithful to the original material in sequels.... Britain's National Secular Society, of which Pullman is a member, has said the changes made to avoid controversy amount to "taking the heart" out of the work.So how does the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops react? Just by calling it "intelligent and well-crafted entertainment." Some more from their favorable review:
Whatever author Pullman's putative motives in writing the story, writer-director Chris Weitz's film, taken purely on its own cinematic terms, can be viewed as an exciting adventure story with, at its core, a traditional struggle between good and evil, and a generalized rejection of authoritarianism.For a much better analysis of the movie and a response to the USCCB's review, see this post from the American Papist. The American Papist is covering this entire controversial story very thoroughly, so be sure to check out his other posts.
To the extent, moreover, that Lyra and her allies are taking a stand on behalf of free will in opposition to the coercive force of the Magisterium, they are of course acting entirely in harmony with Catholic teaching. The heroism and self-sacrifice that they demonstrate provide appropriate moral lessons for viewers.
UPDATE: Here is an interesting First Things editorial by Daniel Moloney, published several years ago, which considers the "His Dark Materials" trilogy in a positive light. Moloney concludes his editorial:
As is, I can fairly characterize His Dark Materials in this fashion: imagine if at the beginning of the world Satan’s rebellion had been successful, that he had reigned for two thousand years, and that a messiah was necessary to conquer lust and the spirit of domination with innocence, humility, and generous love at great personal cost. Such a story is not subversive of Christianity, it is almost Christian, even if only implicitly and imperfectly. But implicit and imperfect Christianity is often our lot in life, and Pullman has unintentionally created a marvelous depiction of many of the human ideals Christians hold dear.I'm not convinced that "His Dark Materials" offers these positive aspects. In an interview with Peter Chattaway, Pullman was asked to comment about this same Moloney editorial, and Pullman reacted strongly, even violently, with these words:
But that doesn't prevent me from pointing out the arrogance that deforms some Christian commentary, and makes it a pleasure to beat it about the head. What on earth gives Christians to right to assume that love and self-sacrifice have to be called Christian virtues? They are virtues, full stop. If there is an exclusively religious sin (not exclusively Christian, but certainly clearly visible among some Christians) it is the claim that all virtue belongs to their sect, all vice to others. It is so clearly wrong, so clearly stupid, so clearly counter-productive, that it leads the unbiased observer to assume that you're not allowed in the religious club unless you leave your intelligence at the door.Pullman goes on to say:
The plainest and simplest description of the world, for me, and the truest, is that there is no God, but that human beings are capable of great goodness and great wickedness, and we don't need priests or Popes or imams or rabbis to tell us which is which.In conclusion, I don't know why Moloney and the USCCB and others are so desperate in finding some redeeming Christian value in Pullman's trilogy. Pullman is very clear that he is opposed to Christianity as an institution, to the Catholic Church and its teachings especially on sexuality, and to the God of this established religion. Pullman describes this opposition explicitly in his trilogy: the Catholic Church, its teachings and its God, are the enemy, and their defeat forms the main plot. Why try to find something "Catholic" in a story that is purposefully "anti-Catholic"? Yes, I think "His Dark Materials" is of much greater concern than anything Harry Potter-related.
UPDATE 2: I've thought of a better way of articulating my concerns with "His Dark Materials." Every work of fiction has underlying themes or messages. The USCCB and Moloney extract the following "good messages" from Pullman's trilogy: that coercive authoritarianism in an institution is bad, and that love and self-sacrifice are good.
The problem is that Pullman conveys these "good messages" at the expense of the Catholic Church. For Pullman, the Catholic Church (and even the Christian religion) is, in essence, an institution of coercive authoritarianism. It's impossible to have the Christian religion without the coercive lack of free will. Moreover, for Pullman, love and self-sacrifice are human virtues, not Christian virtues, incompatible with the Catholic Church and her strictures. Therefore the "good messages" Pullman is trying to convey in the trilogy are these: not just that coercive authoritarianism in an institution is bad, but also, that the Catholic Church is a prime example of this coercive authoritarianism; and not just that love and self-sacrifice are good, human virtues, but also, that these virtues are in opposition to the Catholic Church and her teachings. To a Catholic well-formed in the faith, Pullman's "messages" are obvious lies; to an impressionable young person, I don't know if that is the case.
The soil of southwest Florida is loose and sandy, and it absorbs rich men's fortunes as readily as the summer rains. Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino's Pizza, has poured at least $285 million into a stretch of rural land about 45 minutes from downtown Naples where he is building a new town and university, both named Ave Maria, which are designed to exemplify his conservative Catholic worldview. What has Monaghan's investment brought him in return? A picturesque vaulted church and a copper-roofed campus (see slideshow) for his 600-student school, which espouses an orthodox strain of his faith; attacks by civil libertarians, who accuse him of aspiring to create a veritable papal state at the edge of the Everglades; and so far, after years of publicity and months of intense marketing, just 73 completed home sales—a fraction of the 600 he expected by the end of the year."Monaghan and his partners ... say it's too early to judge the viability of the project." Which is why so many people warned that the decision to move the law school should have been delayed to wait and see how the real estate gamble turned out.
Monaghan and his partners - the Barron Collier Co., a major Florida real estate firm, and Pulte Homes, the country's third-largest residential builder - say it's too early to judge the viability of the project, which, after all, is still in its infancy. But the circumstances of Ave Maria's birth could not be more challenging. It was conceived in 2001, at the onset of the real estate boom, during which the median home price in Naples would double in just five years. The developers were originally hoping to construct 1,000 houses a year at Ave Maria, reaching a goal of 11,000 over the next decade, while also creating parks, shops, restaurants, and 500,000 square feet of office space. That's not going to happen, at least not at the pace the developers had hoped, for reasons that are both symbolic of wider market conditions and peculiar to the unique - and controversial - nature of Monaghan's project. Ave Maria is coming into being at the dawn of the worst real estate recession since the early 1990s, in a place that could fairly be called the epicenter of the bust.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
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