Happy Scopes Monkey Trial Birthday

25 05 2009

Here for reference is JJ’s Evolved Homeschooler Wiki Page .

But eighty-four years ago today, this was the story people would have been blogging [if times back then were more like times now, which they’re not]:

Nashville, Tenn., May 25 — John T. Scopes, young Dayton (Tenn.) high school teacher, tonight stands indicted for having taught the theory of evolution to students attending his science classes in violation of a law passed by the Tennessee Legislature and signed by the Governor on March 21, 1925.

. . . The session followed a charge by Judge John T. Raulston, who interpreted the law and included in his presentation for the reading of the first book of Genesis from the King James version of the Bible, in which the story creation is detailed.

The specific charge of the indictment is that on April 24, 1925, John T. Scopes, “did unlawfully and willfully teach in public schools of Rhea County, Tenn., which said schools are supported in part and in whole by the public school funds of the State, certain theory and theories that deny the story of Divine creation of man as taught in the Bible and did teach thereof that man descended from a lower order of animals.” The penalty prescribed in the law for such violation is a fine from $100 to $500.

Does it sound as if the religious conservative status quo of 1925 was way more committed to the rule of law back when they defined and controlled it?

Telling the jurors that if the statute had been violated, their duty was to find the indictment, Judge Raulston pointed out that it was not within their province to inquire into the policy or the wisdom of the legislation.

Law’s Wisdom Not Jurors’ Concern

“The policy and wisdom of any particular legislation addresses itself to the legislative branch of Government, provided the proposed legislation is within constitutional limitations,” he said.

. . .”I make no reference to the policy or constitutionality of the statute, but to the evil example of the teacher disregarding constitutional authority in the presence of those whose thought and morals he is to direct and guide. To teach successfully, we must teach both by precept and example.

“The school room is not only a place to develop the power of thought, but also a place to develop discipline, power of restraint and character. If a teacher openly and flagrantly violates the law of the land in the exercise of his profession, this example cannot be wholesome upon the undeveloped mind and naturally tends to cerate and breed a spirit of disregard for good order and a want of respect for necessary discipline and restraint in our body politic.

Now gentlemen of the jury, it is your duty to investigate this alleged offense without prejudice or bias and with open minds, and if you find there has been a willful violation of the statute you should promptly return a true bill. Otherwise, you should return ‘no bill.’

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4 responses

25 05 2009
JJ

This power of story predates Dick Cheney’s birthday (I know, hard to believe! He wouldn’t be born for more than 15 years. ) Newt Gingrich is a couple of years younger than Cheney. So then I started wondering if anyone still on the Supreme Court might be older than this news. The answer is only John Paul Stevens. He was 5 at the time.

26 05 2009
COD

Actually, I am perfectly ok with a jury disregarding the law. The jury is the last line of defense. Legislators can enact bad laws. The justice system can enforce bad laws. But it is all for naught if the people represented by the jury refuse to convict on bad laws.

26 05 2009
JJ

And if the people in the jury pools — and the politicians they elect to appoint the judges instructing the juries — aren’t well-educated and freedom-minded, we’re all screwed anyway!

9 09 2010

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