What Clarence Darrow’s Dayton Statue Stands For

Apparently about a third of the population of Tennessee still doesn’t buy Darwin’s Theory of Evolution (according to a 2015 Pew Research Center study) so it should not be too much of a surprise that in Dayton, Tennessee,  site of the famous 1925 Scopes Trial, a newly erected statue of Clarence Darrow in front of the historic red brick courthouse where the trial took place was met with some protests. At a County Commission meeting in the town,  resident Ruth Ann Wilson suggested that bronze Darrow might unleash a plague or a curse. “I rise in opposition to this atheist statue, all right?” she said. “This is very serious, folks.”

No, that isn’t serious, but the persistence of ignorance both generally and about the issues battled over in 1925 are.  Another resident, Brad Putt, is quoted by the New York Times as saying,  “People around here know that if you have a court case, you have to have two sides,” referring to the fact that there has been a Williams Jennings Bryan statue standing in front of the courthouse  since 2005. “You can’t have Optimus Prime unless you have Megatron. You’ve got to have a yin to the yang.” Well, that’s not quite right either, depending on what Bryan and Darrow symbolize. If the idea is to have the most famous opposing counsel in U.S. legal history facing off, okay, that’s fair. If he is saying, as I think he is, that science and religion must counter and balance each other, that’s nonsense. Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official of the Week: Georgia Rep. Paul Broun

Paul! See that guy holding the sign that says, “Atheists Go Back to Your Apes”? YOU COULD BE THAT GUY, PAUL!

An ignoramus and proud of it, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA.) is apparently serving in Congress while waiting for a juicy role as one of the fanatically religious townspeople in “Inherit the Wind,” should a local production materialize. For it was good people like Broun, with his level of education, certitude and Godly conviction, who occupied the town of Dayton, Tennessee during the Scopes “Monkey Trial,” the famous legal battle over the teaching of evolution that inspired the fictional stage adaptation of the event authored by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, perhaps the best high school drama club play that ever graced Broadway.

Those science-hating, God-loving people of Dayton’s  imaginary stand-in, “happy Hillsboro,” get to do a lot of revival meeting singing, and scream “Praise God” and “Read your Bible!,” and join in choral renditions of “We’ll hang Bert Cates from a Sour Apple Tree,” a reference to the play’s junior high science teacher, who, like the real John Scopes, dares to defy Tennessee law and teaches his students that the world isn’t only 9,000 years old, that Adam didn’t ride around on a triceratops and that mankind evolved from more primitive primates. Broun would be terrific at the singing and screaming, I’m sure. Continue reading

The Ethics of Ignorance and Apathy: Gore’s Million Degree Gaffe

I didn’t watch Al Gore when he appeared on the Tonight Show a couple weeks ago. What he said then while hobnobbing with Conan should be old news, but in fact it was no news at all, because virtually no news media gave it more than a passing mention. Then, by purest accident, I heard a talk-radio host ranting about a shocking statement Gore had made on the show, and I checked to see if he could possibly be quoting the former Vice-President correctly.

He was. Here is the exchange: Continue reading