Monday, July 10, 2006

Scopes' Brief First Trial

The state of TIAH

July 10th, 2006

in 1925, Tennessee's law that forbids the teaching of any science that contradicts the Biblical origin story of mankind is put to the test when young science teacher John Scopes of Dayton is put on trial for teaching evolutionary theory at his high school. The ACLU, which had persuaded Scopes to be their test case for this law, lets the trial proceed almost without resistance in order to appeal the case up to the federal courts. The teacher is convicted of violating the law that day, and is fined $250. The Civil Liberties lawyers then bring in the appeal to the federal court, where Scopes is represented by the legendary Clarence Darrow, and Dayton is represented by a country attorney. When Tennessee's law is rather predictably struck down, Tennessee then receives a rather unusual request – former presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan wants to argue their case before the Supreme Court. They gladly accept him as their champion, but send along Tennessee's attorney general, as well. Darrow and Bryan's famous confrontation at the Supreme Court has since been made into books, plays and movies, but the most lasting result was that Darrow triumphed, and science classes, in the court's written judgement, “were to be used for the purposes of disseminating science; churches are to be used for the purpose of spreading the word of God.” With this extra brick in the wall between church and state, fundamentalists have concentrated their efforts away from schools and more towards societal aims, such as ending the practice of charging interest, since usury is listed as a great sin in the Bible.

in 1947, Bessie Brazel's condition continues to improve, and Dr. Powell tells her father Mac Brazel that it looks like she's going to make a complete recovery. The rancher is still somewhat upset about the whole situation, and since Dr. Powell is the only one he can talk to about it, says, “What was all that stuff, doctor?” Dr. Powell shrugs off Brazel's question, telling him that it's not safe to ask such things when national security is at stake, but is very curious himself, and pursues a contact he knows at the Roswell Air Force base, a Major Jesse Marcel. Marcel tells Dr. Powell that something very important crashed on Brazel's ranch, and an announcement will be made to the papers soon. Sure enough, the next day's Roswell Daily Record has a press release from the Air Force, saying that a “flying saucer” was recovered from Brazel's ranch, much to the astonishment of the Brazel family and Dr. Powell. The Brazel boys who picked up the wreckage didn't see how it could all add up to a flying saucer, and Mac Brazel didn't think the bodies he had buried had looked like men from Mars. The rancher's wife, happy that their daughter is recovering, tells him to just let it lie; “No need in stirring up the hornet's nest. If the Air Force wants to say it's little green men, let 'em.”

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