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Clarence Darrow Statue Plan Draws Controversy

May 15, 2017

Oh, brother.  I swear sometimes people just want to have something to complain about.

The famous 1925 Scopes trial, in which attorney Clarence Darrow defended the teaching of evolution against opposing council William Jennings Bryan, took place at the Rhea County courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee. And while there’s been a statue of Bryan outside the courthouse for years, there are now plans for a seven-foot tall, $150,000 bronze statue of Darrow, who represented science teacher John T. Scopes. But not everyone is happy with Darrow’s return

Clarence Darrow is coming back to this deeply religious town where he defended the teaching of evolution in one of the most well-known trials of the 20th century, but this time as a statue.

Even in bronze, the agnostic lawyer from Chicago is about as welcome here today as he was in 1925.

The statue will join one of Darrow’s opposing counsel, William Jennings Bryan, on the lawn outside the Rhea County courthouse, where the trial was held and which remains an active court building.

In the famous case, Mr. Darrow defended high-school teacher John T. Scopes against the state of Tennessee over whether evolution could be taught in public schools. The trial—which drew thousands to Dayton, including journalist H.L. Mencken, who lampooned its residents—became the focus of the national debate about the origins of life on earth, and pitted two of the nation’s best orators in an epic contest between evolution and biblical creationism. The legal battle later inspired the 1955 play “Inherit the Wind,” made into a Hollywood film in 1960 starring Spencer Tracy and Fredric March.

Local opposition to the statue is increasingly vocal. June Griffin, a 77-year-old conservative activist in Dayton, said Mr. Darrow was a radical who opposed the Bible and what she called “Americanism.” She has organized supporters to push the county to rescind authorization for the statue.

The conservative Tennessee Pastors Network is planning to hold a rally July 1 along with Ms. Griffin and her supporters against the statue. “This monument spits in the face of our Christian heritage,” said Dale Walker, the group’s president.

Get over it!  And BTW–the earth is not flat!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2017 8:19 PM

    Agreed, esp. the latter.

  2. H.L. Solly permalink
    May 15, 2017 3:58 PM

    “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste* of the American public.” Was Mencken talking about the Scopes’ Trial or November 8, 2016 or the statue debate? Seems like there isn’t evolution in Tennessee. * or intelligence

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