Tag Archives: scopes

Dayton’s 1925 ‘Monkey Trial’ Now a Tourism Attraction

By Joseph B. Frazier, for The Associated Press
DAYTON, Tenn. — It was yet another Trial of the Century — one of those noisy spectacles that roll around every decade or so — but this one wasn’t about murder or celebrity kidnapping.
Rather it involved a new Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools and an unassuming high school science teacher, John Scopes, who went on trial in July 1925 in the hill town of east Tennessee for violating it.
It was quickly dubbed “The Monkey Trial,” a description the town still dislikes, and for a couple of weeks the world was focused on conservative backwater Dayton, population about 3,000, which was flooded with some 200 journalists from around the world, scores of telegraph operators, thousands of onlookers and some of the finest legal talent in America. It was the first American trial to be broadcast live nationally on the radio.
The trial was the inspiration for the play and 1960 Spencer Tracy movie “Inherit the Wind,” widely seen as jab at the McCarthy era of the 1950s much as was Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” It had four Oscar nominations.

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AP Story on TN Evolution: From Scopes Trial to ‘Monkey Bill’

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee, where the nation’s first big legal battle over evolution was fought nearly 90 years ago, is close to enacting a law that critics deride as the “monkey bill” for once again attacking the scientific theory.
The measure passed by the Tennessee General Assembly would protect teachers who allow students to criticize evolution and other scientific theories, such as global warming. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said this week he would likely sign it into law.
Haslam said the State Board of Education has told him the measure won’t affect the state’s current scientific curriculum for primary, middle or high school students. Louisiana enacted a similar law in 2008.
“I think the one thing about that bill is this: Nothing about the curriculum of the state of Tennessee will change, and the scientific standards won’t change,” he said. “So I think some of the discussion about its impact has probably been overblown.”
The bill says it will encourage critical thinking by protecting teachers from discipline if they help students critique “scientific weaknesses.”
Scientists in Tennessee and the American Association for the Advancement of Science are asking Haslam to veto the bill, saying that evolution is established science that shouldn’t be taught as a controversy.

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