Sunday, March 05, 2006
WON'T YOU TAKE ME TO CATHOLIC TOWN?
I've mentioned before that I was raised Catholic. As a matter of fact, I went to Catholic school and was even an altar boy. Hard to believe, no? Anyhow, I was Catholic until I reached the Age of Reason, which in my case was 12.
Any good anti-papist - and there is no better anti-papist than a former Catholic - will tell you that the Church more closely resembles an organized crime syndicate than an expression of faith and is given to believing in insane things. Even the papacy itself is a pretty psychotic concept. The pope is, as we all know, elected by the College of Cardinals, yet religion generally, and Catholocism specifically, are the very antihesis od democracy. Then there's that "no meat on Friday", "Let's speak only in Latin", and "There are too many Jews, let's kill some" philosphy that were dominant until all the way back in.....1962.
As batshit fucking crazy as the Church as an institution can be, individual Catholics can frequently be far, far worse. There are folks out there, like Mel Gibson's dad Hutton, who are well to the right of the Church and felt that even a pope as conservative as John Paul II was a communist sympathizer and lobbyist for B'nai Brith. All this brings us to the strange case of former pizza delivery boy and Dominos founder, Thomas S. Monaghan.
Monaghan, who is a generous contributor to the racketeering conspiracy known as Operation Rescue, was named one of the top 100 Catholics of the 20th century (he was #38) by the Daily Catholic. As the founder of Ave Maria Law School, Monaghan is a strong supporter of bringing Catholic values (such as they are) into secular society. To this end, he hired the constitutional pervert, Judge Robert Bork to the faculty. To no one's suprise, Ave Maria College and Law School are hardly regarded as a bastion of academic excellence.
Despite repeated promises by Monaghan to continue academic programs in Ypsilanti through the 2006/2007 academic year, the current president of Ave Maria College has told students that graduating from Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti will mean receiving a substandard educational experience.
Now Tom Monaghan wants to do for urban planning what he did for education.
If Domino's Pizza founder Thomas S. Monaghan has his way, a new town being built in Florida will be governed according to strict Roman Catholic principles, with no place to get an abortion, pornography or birth control.
The pizza magnate is bankrolling the project with at least $250 million (Newsweek puts the figure at $400 million) and calls it "God's will."
Civil libertarians say the plan is unconstitutional and are threatening to sue.
The town of Ave Maria is being constructed around Ave Maria University, the first Catholic university to be built in the United States in about 40 years. Both are set to open next year about 25 miles east of Naples in southwestern Florida.
During a speech last year at a Catholic men's gathering in Boston, Monaghan said that in his community, stores will not sell pornographic magazines, pharmacies will not carry condoms or birth control pills, and cable television will have no X-rated channels.
Homebuyers in Ave Maria will own their property outright. But Monaghan and Barron Collier will control all commercial real estate in the town, meaning they could insert provisions in leases to restrict the sale of certain items.
"I believe all of history is just one big battle between good and evil. I don't want to be on the sidelines," Monaghan, who sold Domino's Pizza in 1998 to devote himself to doing good works, said in a recent Newsweek interview.
For a guy who turned a shithole restaraunt in a burning pit like Ypsilanti into a multnational conglomerate and fancies himself an educator, Monaghan displays a shocking level of ignorance. If not an actual idiot, Monaghan's religious zeal has blinded him to several important concepts, not least of which is the United States Constitution, the concept of equal protection of the laws and all around common sense.
You see, just because you happen to "own" a town, that does not exempt the citizens thereof of constitutional guarantees and it does not remove it from the jurisdiction of the United States Supreme Court or the laws of the state and federal governments.
Ironically, that precept was laid out in Marsh v. State of Alabama (1946), which established the right to free religious expression in privately owned towns. Justice Hugo Black, writing for the majority in Marsh couldn't have been clearer in his reasoning.
We do not agree that the corporation's property interests settle the question. 2 The State urges in effect that the corporation's right to control the inhabitants of Chickasaw is coextensive with the right of a homeowner to regulate the conduct of his guests. We can not accept that contention. Ownership does not always mean absolute dominion. The more an owner, for his advantage, opens up his property for use by the public in general, the more do his rights become circumscribed by the statutory and constitutional rights of those who use it.
As we have heretofore stated, the town of Chickasaw does not function differently from any other town. The 'business block' serves as the community shopping center and is freely accessible and open to the people in the area and those passing through. The managers appointed by the corporation cannot curtail the liberty of press and religion of these people consistently with the purposes of the Constitutional guarantees, and a state statute, as the one here involved, which enforces such action by criminally punishing those who attempt to distribute religious literature clearly violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.
Many people in the United States live in company-owned towns. These people, just as residents of municipalities, are free citizens of their State and country. Just as all other citizens they must make decisions which affect the welfare of community and nation. To act as good citizens they must be informed. In order to enable them to be properly informed their information must be uncensored. There is no more reason for depriving these people of the liberties guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments than there is for curtailing these freedoms with respect to any other citizen.
When we balance the Constitutional rights of owners of property against those of the people to enjoy freedom of press and religion, as we must here, we remain mindful of the fact that the latter occupy a preferred position. As we have stated before, the right to exercise the liberties safeguarded by the First Amendment 'lies at the foundation of free government by free men' and we must in all cases 'weigh the circumstances and appraise ... the reasons ... in support of the regulation of (those) rights.' Schneider v. State. In our view the circumstance that the property rights to the premises where the deprivation of liberty, here involved, took place, were held by others than the public, is not sufficient to justify the State's permitting a corporation to govern a community of citizens so as to restrict their fundamental liberties and the enforcement of such restraint by the application of a State statute. Insofar as the State has attempted to impose criminal punishment on appellant for undertaking to distribute religious literature in a company town, its action cannot stand. The case is reversed and the cause remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
Pretty simple, no? The principle couldn't be clearer. A town, regardless of public or private ownership cannot infringe on the rights of its citizens. An American citizen does not renounce his or her rights by residing in a specific region of the country.
What Tom Monaghan seeks to restrict are all things that the Supreme Court has addressed time and time again. Access to birth control was ruled upon in Griswold v. Connectiticut (1967), abortion in Roe v. Wade (1973) and content-based regulation of service providers in Reno, Attorney General of the United States v. American Civil Liberties Union (1997) In each case, the decisions did not go the way Monaghan would have liked.
Even if the Court had ruled in a way that Tommy and the Cardinals would cheer for, setting up his own town would still be legally meaningless, as all of the above are matters of either state or federal jurisdiction. The laws of those jurisdictions would still be binding on Ave Maria. And the "supreme" part of the Supreme Court implies some ... well, supremacy. Let's assume for a moment that I wanted to start "Santeriaville." Just because I owned all of the property and incorporated would not mean that I'm exempt from state animal cruelty laws and am free to cover everything far and wide with chicken innards.
Okay, I should get away from Santeriaville, lest I fall too deeply in love with the idea.
I imagine that Catholics and conservatives are cheering these shitheads on, but I'd love for one of them to explain how this jurisdictional power grab is any diffrent that Gavin Newsom's allowing gay marriage in San Fransisco. The legal and constitutional principles are identical. You cannot support one and oppose the other. Well, I suppose that you could, but it would just prove that you're an idiot and a hypocrite.
When you're a zillionaire pizza boy, like Tommy Monaghan, you tend be to surrounded by the treacherous jackals that polite society calls "lawyers." How one of said treacherous jackals could not have pointed out the legal and constitutional morass that their client is about to wade into mystifies me. Maybe they just really like seeing Monaghan piss away between $250 and 400 million dollars on something that might survive in court for about 14 seconds. Or maybe they graduated from Ave Maria Law School. All I know is that it took me less than an hour to find the relevant rulings and binding case law. And not only am I not a
treacherous jackal lawyer, I'm not even an American citizen. Surely, I'm not capable of doing a better job than Monaghan's army of professional shysters, am I?
I don't expect Tom Monaghan to be an attorney, a constitutional scholar, or even a dead sexy bastard like me. But as someone who has lived the American Dream, it does seem reasonable to expect him to understand it. And a big part of that dream is not only the freedom of religion, it is the freedom from it as well. Being that Ave Maria would founded on "Catholic principles", which even he admits, it would be a theocracy ... not radically different from Iran, but not as good with kids either.
But if there's anything that the world should know about me, it's that I'm a helpful fellow. I always like to provide a realistic alternative to the weird and deeply perverse desires of my fellow man. That's why I'd like to point out to Mr. Monaghan that there already is a town based on Catholic principles. It's called Vatican City. Perhaps he's heard of it. And they're really Catholic! The last time I checked, they still spoke Latin all the time.
Should that prove impractical, I even went to the trouble of crafting a back-up plan. That would Guyana. They're always open to civic-minded individuals with interesting religious views.
Easy Listening Recommendation of the Day: Dear God. By: XTC From: Fossil Fuel the XTC Singles, 1977-1992