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10 July

'Your honor, I feel that I have been convicted of violating an unjust statute. I will continue in the future, as I have in the past, to oppose this law in any way I can. Any other action would be in violation of my ideal of academic freedom - that is, to teach the truth as guaranteed in our constitution, of personal and religious freedom.' John Scopes

July 10, 2009
2 min read

Today in 1925, the Scopes ‘Monkey’ trial opened. John Scopes, a high school teacher, was prosecuted by the Tennessee State for teaching evolution based on Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. This was in defiance of the recently introduced Butler Act which forbade the teaching, in any state-funded educational establishment in Tennessee, ‘of any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.’

After eight days of intensive arguing, Scopes was found guilty and the monkeys lost out in Tennessee.

…I have never known what freedom is. I keep on working for it and hoping for it and wanting it, but I know that I never shall have it. In this, no doubt, my life has been like the life of every being that ever lived … I remember reading a while ago a statement of Anatole France. He said that the chief business of life is “killing time.” And so it is. What is the difference if we gather all the facts of the universe into our brains for the worms to eat? They might give the worms indigestion …’

Clarence Darrow, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyer for the defence