Monday, January 30, 2006

The "Monkey Trial", Part 2

In my last post, I described the true proceedings of the Scopes Trial. I discussed what many schools refuse to talk about, the actual facts.

In high schools across America ( even the ones around where I live), a 1960's movie entitled, Inherit The Wind, is being shown. Inherit the Wind is supposedly a "historical account" of the Scopes Trial. But, as is usually the case, Hollywood struggles to get the facts straight.

The cast of Inherit the Wind ( You'll note that the movie changed the names of all the true-life characters):

Spencer Tracy as Henry Drummond ( aka Clarence Darrow)
Fredric March as Matthew Harrison Brady ( aka William Jennings Bryan)
Dick York as Bert Cates (aka John Scopes)

The following is the description of Inherit the Wind and it's many lies. Regardless of Hollywood's name changes, I'm going to call each of the characters by their proper names:

The movie "facts" are written in black. The true facts are written in red.

The movie opens as a fictitious clergyman ( Rev. Jeremiah Brown) and a businessman/lawyer march into the Dalton, Tennessee high school. They storm into Scopes' biology class, where Mr. Scopes is passionately teaching evolution.

Fact: Scopes never actually taught evolution. Scopes himself stated:

"There's something I must tell you. It's worried me. I didn't violate the law ...I never taught that evolution lesson."

After a few minutes of listening to Scopes' teachings, the two men arrest John Scopes and throw him into jail where he remains for the rest of the movie.

Fact: John Scopes never actually went to jail. The ACLU immediately paid his $1000 dollar bail.

Shortly after being tossed in jail, Scopes writes a letter to a local newspaper requesting help. The newspaperman sends for Clarence Darrow.

Fact: None of this occurred in reality. Darrow, after hearing about the case in the newspapers, offered to defend Scopes for free.

Scopes sits in jail and listens to the townspeople of Dalton, TN singing "We'll Lynch Him To An Apple Tree" to the melody of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. The song was directed to John Scopes. Not only is this absolutely false, but it is sickening because the movie portrays the "Christians" of Dalton as a hateful, spiteful crowd.

Fact: The religious citizens of Dalton, Tennessee were polite and courteous to everyone, including: Scopes, Bryan, and Darrow.

Clarence Darrow speaking about the citizens of Dalton:

"I don't know as I was ever in a community in my life where my religious ideas differed as widely from the great mass as I have found them since I have been in Tennessee. Yet I came here a perfect stranger and I can say what I have said before that I have not found upon anybody's part - any citizen here in this town or outside the slightest discourtesy. I have been treated better, kindlier and more hospitably than I fancied would have been the case in the north."

From a Toronto newspaperman:

I would like to "express my great appreciation of the extreme courtesy which has been accorded me and my brethren of the press by the court and the citizens of Dayton. I shall take back with me a deeper appreciation of the great republic for which we have felt so kindly, and whose institutions we so magnify and admire."

Once again, Hollywood dismisses the truth.

At one point, the movie shows the citizens of Dalton threatening and yelling at the defense and reporters in the courtroom.

Fact: The transcript of the Scopes Trial shows this to be fictional.

The trial's prosecutor, William Jennings Bryan, is portrayed as an angry, greedy, sloppy, undignified, stupid maniac who, as the movie progresses, becomes more and more obsessive about bringing down John Scopes and defeating evolution. The movie's portrayal of Bryan is deeply disturbing. Inherit the Wind tries to show that this is how all Christians are... crazy and ignorant.

Fact: William Jennings Bryan was, in reality, an intelligent, Christian gentleman.

Sprague De Camp, author of The Great Monkey Trial, said this of Bryan:

As a speaker, Bryan radiated good humored sincerity. Few who heard him could help liking him. In personality he was forceful, energetic, and opinionated but genial, kindly, generous, likable and charming. He showed a praise worthy tolerance towards those who disagreed with him. Bryan was the greatest American orator of his time and perhaps any time.

Meanwhile, Darrow, a hateful atheist in real life, is shown as a kind, well-meaning gentleman. He is full of compassion and is portrayed as a hero.

During the trial, Darrow gets Bryan to admit that he is absolutely opposed to The Descent of Man (which Scopes was supposedly teaching in the Tennessee high school), but had never actually read it.

Fact: Bryan did disagree with Darwin's Descent of Man, but he HAD indeed read it. Also,The Descent of Man was never used in the school's curriculem. The real biology book taught in the high school was Hunter's Civic Biology.

Bryan had, in real life, written many papers on evolution, after having read the Descent of Man.The movie's attempt to show Bryan's having a blind prejudice against evolution and total ignorance is apparent.

The movie really spins off as it shows a "Miss Rachel Brown", a completely fictional character, as John Scopes' fiancée. She was forced ( by her evil father, a "Christian" minister) to testify against Scopes. Bryan badly mistreats "Miss Brown" as he completely flies off the handle in his passion against evolution. Darrow, always the courteous man, agrees to let "Miss Brown" rest and not cross- examine her.

Fact: Scopes was not engaged to any girl, and did not even have a girlfriend at the time.

Darrow often "brow-beat" and lost his temper with many witnesses during this trial, while Bryan treated the witnesses with respect.

The movie goes on to show Darrow's attempt to bring "real" scientists in to testify. But Bryan is afraid of their testimony, and thanks to a biased judge gets the "scientists" deemed irrelevant.

Fact: Darrow was afraid to bring in his evolution experts because he knew Bryan would cross-examine them.

And of course, the movie had to show Darrow questioning Bryan about sex in the Bible. I'm not going to go in to this, but I wanted to point out that Hollywood couldn't resist throwing in this dialogue.

Fact: According to transcripts, this entire discussion never took place.

In the movie, Bryan has pinned down the exact date of the earth's Creation, October 23rd.

But in reality, Bryan confessed that he did not know the earth's age.

(From actual transcripts)

Darrow: "Mr. Bryan could you tell me how old the earth is?"

Bryan: "No sir, I couldn't."

As the trial is coming to a close, Darrow is valiantly fighting for his client. Scopes begins to give in and wants to just confess guilt. Darrow turns around and asks Scopes: "Are you going to find yourself guilty before the jury does?"

Fact: Darrow conceded his client's guilt, and the case ended.

Scopes is found guilty and is sued $100. ( I guess this was the only true fact shown in the movie.)

Darrow is shown shaken and shocked at this "great injustice" ( Scopes being found guilty). Bryan, meanwhile, is furious that Scopes is only sued $100.

And now for the icing on the cake....

The movie ends with a wonderful scene. *sarcasm*

Bryan is vigorously screaming out his closing statement, blasting evolution, and acting like a maniac. The crowd gets bored and leaves the courtroom as Bryan continues his rant. Meanwhile, Bryan's wife looks on in horror. Bryan continues yelling and eventually just starts listing the books of the Bible in an emphatic manner. ( I don't know why) After a minute of that, he drops down dead.

Fact: Neither Darrow or Bryan gave closing arguments. And Bryan left the courthouse with dignity. He died a short while later.

The quotes I used were from the official transcript of the Scopes Trial. My sources are Answers in Genesis, Dr. David Menton's Inherently Wind, US History textbooks, and an NHC study on the Scopes Trial.

Now, it's bad enough that this film was ever made, but the fact that Inherit the Wind is shown in highschools across the nation is infuriating! Public schools are painting a vile picture of Christians. Public schoolers don't know any better.... they watch this movie and believe that all Christians behave like the Bryan of this film. Why does Hollywood (and for that matter, the Liberal extremists of the world) constantly attack Christians, and try to smear them in front of the world? Because they hate God.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. - John 15:18

Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you- 1 John 3:13

May the Word of God shine, even in this world of hate.


  • It's scary to see what they put into the minds of our impressionable young. And infuritating how the media likes to twist truths and refuse to show them.

    Thanks for writing this up.

    By Blogger TBQelite, at 1:34 AM  

  • yeah, I don't think there are any historians in Hollywood.

    By Blogger Polka Dotted Pickles, at 9:59 AM  

  • Zach, this was really good! It was really fascinating to read. Thanks for posting it, this is something important for people to know.

    By Anonymous a.lyssa, at 7:12 PM  

  • Great Post, Zach! How awful!

    By Anonymous Vevy, at 11:25 PM  

  • Wow, that's horrible. I can't believe they did that and got away with it. Thanks for posting it to let us know.

    By Blogger Lindsey, at 1:42 PM  

  • You're welcome, everyone! :)

    It is very aweful...I wish there was something we could do to stop this movie from being shown in highschools across America.

    By Blogger MVB, at 1:57 PM  

  • I would like to see that movie just because...

    By Blogger Polka Dotted Pickles, at 6:17 PM  

  • Yeah... it gets you good an mad...

    By Blogger MVB, at 10:28 PM  

  • Amen Zach, this is sad!

    One book you may want to read if you haven't yet is "Presecution" by David Limbaugh. It talks all about how our system turned in the 60's, its a great book, but the facts hurt.

    Anyway Good post, its sickening how our schools will just lie to our students!


    By Blogger Kierstyn Paulino, at 12:10 AM  

  • Guys, Inherit the Wind is fiction. You know, made up. It is based on the Scopes Trial but the authors of the play do not make any claims as to the historical accuracy.
    I have in my hands a copy of the play (Random House, 1985) and the first line of the introduction by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee is "Inherit the Wind is not history." Later in the same intro the playwrights state "Inherit the Wind does not pretend to be journalism."
    I don't know of any cases where it's used as history except on creationist sites.

    By Anonymous N. Smith, at 10:44 AM  

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