Monday, July 10, 2006
Scopes It Out!
There is a good summary (except for some quibbles, such as stating that there is a specific denomination with well-defined beliefs called "Fundamentalism") of a number of the more misunderstood aspects of the Scopes "Monkey Trial" at the American Heritage site. The article, "20 Questions About the Scopes Trial," by Frederic D. Schwarz, can be found here.
The article is no substitute for Edward J. Larson's Pulitzer Prize winning Summer for the Gods, but it does cover many of the myths that have come to surround the trial, mainly due to the failure to distinguish the play Inherit the Wind, staring Paul Muni, and the later movie, with Spencer Tracy and Frederic March, from real history. Inherit the Wind, much like Arthur Miller's The Crucible, was originally intended as a parable about McCarthyism and not an accurate account of the Scopes trial, though the marketing of the Stanley Kramer movie may have blurred that distinction. In any event, the article is a useful balance against the worst of the mythmaking.