Today is the anniversary of the end of the Scopes Monkey Trial. Celebrate with a banana.
To clarify: There is no such thing as a Scopes Monkey (although I think there should be). Scopes was the last name of a substitute high school teacher in Tennessee who agreed to be tried for teaching evolution.
This was back in the 1920s and Tennessee had passed a law saying that A) teaching evolution was illegal (horrors), B) teachers had to use textbooks that included evolution, and C) the world was held up by a giant turtle.
Some people (like the ACLU) thought this was discrimination against intelligence and turtles and therefore decided a Case Needed to Be Made and Scopes (who wasn’t even sure he ever taught evolution) went along with the idea.
Lots of big name lawyers got involved and the whole thing became a media circus. Yes, media circuses existed back then. No they were not carried out in real time on social media.
The judge in the case, being firmly on the rabbit side of the tortoise and the hare story, had firm opinions about the case that did not necessarily have anything to do with impartiality. This is a long tradition in our judicial system, but don’t get me started about that today.
Anyhoo, since everyone agreed that John Thomas Scopes had taught evolution (except JT himself who wasn’t 100% sure) and everyone agreed that the law said that was illegal, it took the jury 12 seconds to determine that he was guilty (even if they didn’t like the idea very much).
Scopes was fined the minimum fine of $100 (about $1,300 in today’s dollars and 6 billion in Greek currency) and everyone declared victory for raising the issue and/or winning depending on whose side you were on.
The real winners were the textbook publishers who were able to print new versions of textbooks every 27 minutes depending on which way the political wind was blowing.
Turtles everywhere ignored the results.
In 1958, the National Defense Education Act (We Will Win the Cold War If It Kills Us) was passed stressing the importance of evolution.
Turtles continued to evolve and to ignore the results.
Turtles are not big on government ideas of education.
Neither are Scopes Monkeys.