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Dr. Marvin Olasky interviews Micheal Flaherty and "Chip" Mellor

October 5th, 2012

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

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These articles originally appeared in the 10/5/2012 issue of the Patrick Henry Herald.

SEE PHOTO GALLERY OF NEWSMAKERS INTERVIEWS BELOW.

Micheal Flaherty

Flaherty: Hollywood Alternatives

by Elizabeth Stinnette

Micheal Flaherty was raised on stories. His parents encouraged him to borrow books from the library, and his family was the first in their Boston neighborhood to get cable television.

Flaherty turned his lifelong love of stories into Walden Media, an independent film studio that adapts beloved children’s books into films.

The co-founder of Walden Media encouraged students to pursue their God-given dreams during the first Olasky Newsmakers interview this Tuesday. “When in doubt, get in the ring,” he said. “There’s no better experience than getting in there and making things happen.”

Flaherty’s own journey founding Walden Media was a leap of faith. After reading about the Christian students who died in the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, Flaherty became a Christian—and he wanted to do something crazy for God.

“I was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life, and I said to myself, ‘Well, I’ve always liked movies,’” he said.

Flaherty wanted to offer an alternative to violent Hollywood films, not simply condemn the industry.

“Rather than curse the darkness, let’s light some candles,” he said.

Flaherty reunited with college roommate Cary Granate and began to pitch an idea for a morality-based film company. They finally found billionaire entrepreneur Phil Anschutz.

When Anschutz asked Flaherty what kinds of films he wanted to make, Flaherty turned to children’s books.

He asked his wife, a teacher, what books her students loved. She mentioned The Chronicles of Narnia, Charlotte’s Web, Holes, and Bridge to Terabithia. Flaherty immediately optioned the film rights to all of these books.

“Those ended up being some of our most successful films,” Flaherty said.

Besides film, Flaherty’s other great love is education. Before founding Walden Media, he wrote a curriculum for failing Boston schools.

Flaherty has combined his passion for education with Walden Media by making the documentary Waiting for Superman and the film Won’t Back Down, which is currently in theaters.

Both the documentary and the film focus on children who get a terrible education simply because they live in the wrong part of town.

Flaherty hopes that both of these films will make people ask what they would do if their children were in a similar situation.

“Teachers need to be unfettered and be able to teach the way that they can,” Flaherty said. “We just need more incentives.”

 

Yoga, Caskets, and Excessive Government Regulation

Dr. Marvin Olasky interviews William “Chip” Mellor, President of the Institute for Justice on issues of personal liberty and conscience. Since the Constitution was ratified, the role of government has expanded dramatically. State and federal governments regulate issues like pollution, monetary transactions, agriculture, and … African hair braiding.

by Derringer Dick 

 

William “Chip” Mellor

 

Dr. Marvin Olasky discussed such pressing concerns with William “Chip” Mellor this Wednesday as part of his Newsmaker Interview series. Mellor is the president and general counsel of the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm. Mellor also co-authored The Dirty Dozen: How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom.

According to Mellor, the Institute for Justice takes lawsuits it believes have the potential to go all the way to the Supreme Court. Specifically, they deal with four areas that Mellor defines as the “four pillars of the American dream”: economic liberty, private property rights, school choice, and free speech.

“The government imposes arbitrary regulations and licensing requirements on people of modest means simply trying to make a living,” Mellor said.

He explained that regulations often make it impossible to legally practice certain vocations without becoming certified. However, proper certification often depends upon degrees or special education.

Specific examples include monks in New Orleans who were ordered to stop making caskets because they were not licensed funeral directors, yoga teachers who could not teach yoga without certification, and people who were forbidden to braid hair without a cosmetologist’s license. These regulations often work in favor of established companies because they cut down on competition.

The Institute for Justice fights against eminent domain abuse and for educational choices like school vouchers. Even when they lose in court, the Institute For Justice advocates for reform in state legislatures. In four out of five cases argued before the Supreme Court, the Institute for Justice won.

The group’s single loss before the Supreme Court was Kelo v. City of New London, an eminent domain issue, Mellor said. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, 46 states have now taken steps to prevent the abuse of eminent domain.

Mellor argues that it is crucial to begin “insisting that the elected representatives that we have acknowledge that there are Constitutional limits on legislative and executive authority.”

Mellor also voiced concerns over what steps President Barack Obama might take were he to be re-elected.

“To me, the most troubling aspect of what Obama has so far accomplished is a perversion of the American dream from one of initiative and opportunity to one of entitlement,” he said.

If the President continues to be as successful in changing the American culture for another four years, he said, “America as we know it will be radically, radically different for the worse.”

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For a gallery of the week's interviews, please see below.