Statue in Scopes Monkey trial town enrages Christian zealots
Inherit the Wind, the highly-acclaimed fictionalised account of the infamous 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, chillingly portrayed the folk of a small Tennessee town as pig-ignorant Christian hicks.
Stanley Kramer’s 1960 movie showed fanatics taking to the streets to demand the jailing of a high school substitute teacher who refused to fill his pupils’ heads with biblical crap about creation, and instead taught evolution.
Today, 92 years after the trial of John T Scopes, Dayton, Tennessee, is still full of Christian fundamentalists. Now they have begun kicking off over the planned erection in the town of a statue of Clarence Darrow, the lawyer who defended Scopes.
The picture above shows Christian foghorn June Griffin, 78, right, who is leading a campaign against the statue.
According to this report, officials recently approved the placing of Darrow’s statue on the front lawn of the the Rhea County Courthouse, but locals are putting up a fight.
Griffin said she’s one of many taking a stand against the statue. She insists the lawyer’s ideas about evolution go against everything she and others who live in the tight-knit community believe.
All history proves the existence of God, and evolution is a joke for any thinking person. This is a very serious matter, the courthouse is a sacred place, you don’t turn it into a theatre.
The town celebrates the county’s courtroom history with a Scopes Play and Festival each year. Inside the historic courthouse basement, you’ll find rooms full of artifacts and documents detailing the controversial trial. There’s already a statue outside of the prosecutor in the case, William Jennings Bryan.
The county’s historical society approved the installment of Darrow’s statue, saying it’s about preserving history and nothing more.
Said Ralph Green, President of Rhea Country Historical Society.
Well it’s just a recognition of these two men who were giants in their profession and the part that they contributed to making the Scopes trial what it was. It would not have been the same thing without either of them.
Many residents are upset because there was never an official vote. Said Griffin:
Well I know, God is real and he’s not pleased with this. You can come in here with all kinds of French opinions of this, that and the other but this is not France and we don’t run on opinions and an atheist is not on an equal footing with the Christian.
She says she and others will continue to stand up for their beliefs.
You (commissioners) have betrayed the people of this county, you have betrayed them.
She ominously suggested that people may deface the statue with spray paint.
Pennsylvania artist Zenos Frudakis, above, hopes his statue will bring more balance to a divided story line in Dayton. Frudakis says he is surprised to see this kind of opposition in 2017, but he believes Darrow’s story is just as important as Bryan’s and should be portrayed equally.
The statue is scheduled to be put in place July 14 just in time for this year’s Scopes Trial Play and Festival to begin. There’s also a rally and protest planned at the courthouse on July, 1 at 10 am.
County Mayor George Thacker says the County Commission ultimately let the Rhea County Historic Society make the decision, because it did not require a vote. He said the William Jennings Bryan statue was not voted on either when it was installed several years ago.
In addition, county officials say they hope to eventually turn the old courthouse into a full museum in an effort to boost local tourism.
It was in that court that Scopes was convicted, but the decision was later reversed on a legal technicality.
Writing about Inherit the Wind in 2006, top US film critic Rogert Ebert – alas no long with us; he died in 2013 – said:
I wonder if a film made today would have the nerve to question fundamentalism as bluntly as the [Spencer] Tracy character does … arguing that ‘fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding’. When he is asked if he finds anything holy, he replies, ‘The individual human mind. In a child’s ability to master the multiplication table, there is more holiness than all your shouted hosannas and holy of holies’.
• The photo of the deranged Griffin, protesting against Obama Care, was sourced here.