Thursday, October 11, 2007

Scopes Monkey Trial Revisited

Two years ago, I spent a little time in the town of Toledo in Spain. I was staying with a friend in Madrid for a week and then traveled around for a bit. I had a wild time: I went to see all the museums, I got crunk with calimocho and I learned how to make tortilla espanol. All things grand.

I usually pack a pretty weird reading list on my trips. I recently went to Savannah and brought along with me Medical Apartheid by Harriet Washington. One person I met saw the book and quipped, "Apartheid was man's greatest invention." But he was's still actually a racist. But in Spain I took an odd pairing: Jonathan Ames' "What's Not to Love?" and The Court Cases of Clarence Darrow. Oooh -- Pulse racing.

I've been a big supporter of Clarence Darrow since first learning about the Scopes-Monkey Trial back around 7th grade. What a guy! He grilled William Jennings Bryan and Fundementalism on the stand and ushered us into a new era of enlightenment. I also admire how he fought and won against the death penalty in the Loeb and Leopold trial. I even listed him as one of my Heroes on Myspace.

So I was thrilled this morning when I went into the school office and saw the following quote:

"Just think of teaching a child not to doubt." - Clarence Darrow

WOW. First, I thought that it's wonderful that my hero is giving me a morning greeting. Morning, Clarence. Then I think that I really don't understand the quote. I was thinking that they may have left off an ending. Something like "...and I'll smack you" or "...and turn in your resignation."

But I got up to my room and Googled the quote:

"Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt." -- Clarence Darrow, italics mine

Big mistake. Should I tell my princiPAL? It totally changes the meaning of the quote. The one written on the board in the office is horrible! Sorry, Clarence. Your wise words shouldn't be dragged through the mud like that. The tragedy is putting people in authority who are simple.

I'm going to list him as a hero on Myspace once again. Is there a higher honor?

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