Not Past It - The Scopes' Monkey Trial


It is time to meet the beautiful women who want to be Miss USA.

I love pageants.

I love the performance of it, all vaseline on the teeth to keep you smiling.


I can of hairspray and an avalanche of bobby pins to help your hair defy gravity.

But my favorite part is, when the contestants are asked, really hard-hitting questions.


Not why do you want to win this pageant, or where do you see yourself in five years.

I’m talking more like this Healthcare, a human, right?

Or how should our government address the national debt or one of my favorites from the 2011 Miss u.s.a.


Pageant should Evolution be taught in schools.

I think little bits and pieces of evolution should be taught in schools because it is a theory.

I do feel that Evolution should leave.

Talk in school just because it’s so many different different views on it.



I don’t believe in evolution.

I believe that each one of us were created for a purpose by God.

When I first heard these answers.

I was kind of stunned.

We all live in our own little cultural Bubbles, and then my bubble Evolution was not controversial asking if we should teach it would be like asking if algebra and spelling belong in schools, but beauty queens are Are from the first to tackle.


This question, this debate was front and center more than a century ago.

When the teaching of evolution was banned in schools.

Some say it’s parked.

The culture wars culture wars that continue to this day.

From gimlet media.


This is not passed it a show about the stories.

We can’t quite leave behind every episode.

We take a moment from that very same week in history until you the story of how it shaped our world.

I’m Simone palana in On May 25th, 1925 97 years ago, this week, the state of Tennessee indicted a science teacher for teaching evolution at launched what became known as the Scopes Monkey Trial and it got the whole country talking about what should be taught to children?


And what it says about who we are as Americans.

Stay tuned for a heated battle about what Public Schools should put in our heads.

And ultimately our hearts.

It’s it’s serious Monkey Business.

We’ll get into it after the break.

Charles Darwin presented the world, with his theory of evolution in 1859 and his groundbreaking Book On the Origin of Species.


It took a little while for the theory to become mainstream but by and large by the early 20th century, most of the western world was on board with Evolution.

Including many Christians, the church had no problem with this.

As long as God’s guy in The evolutionary process.


That’s fine.

This is Ed Larson.

He’s a professor of History.

Pepperdine University, he wrote a book about the Scopes trial but Ed says the tolerance for evolution changed and the late eighteen an early 1900s with the emergence of a new movement.


Christian fundamentalism, fundamentalist saw Evolution as a threat to the story of creationism.

However, their cause was soon championed by a well-known politician.

He was a boisterous.

Some would say, blowhard populist a famous speech.


Iker named William Jennings, Bryan, Williams, very exuberant.

He had this booming voice.

He was an order of the first caliper.

I come to speak to you too.

Defensive Applause.

As food is the cause of Liberty, the cause of humanity.


That’s a clip of Brian’s famous Cross of gold speech.

It was so influential.

It boosted, his political career.

He was a former, Nebraska.

Congressman, Secretary of State, and a three-time democratic Presidential nominee.


He viewed himself as very much a common person.

He didn’t view himself.

As part of the elite.

He was a devout Christian and became a spokesman for causes that many other fundamentalist scared about like supporting the prohibition of alcohol, condemning sexual immorality, and banning Evolution from being taught in public schools.


Was sweet well-meaning, Christian benevolent, man, like William Jennings Bryan just looked for a simple solution and people listen to him.

Starting in the 1920s.

He traveled across the country speaking, widely about the dangers of evolution, including one speech, he gave to State officials in Nashville, Tennessee.


It’s a packed house.

The balconies are full.

The galleries are full most legislators bring their family.

If they can because they get to hear.

I am Jennings Bryan.

The most famous speaker in America.

Ed says, there was one particular, darwinian idea.

Brian liked to harp on.


He said, well, if you teach people that they descended from apes, how can we expect them not to act like monkeys, the crowd loved it.

And that was his catch line.

Some of the state officials in attendance, were inspired to take action and March of 1925.


The legislature passed the butler, a act making it a crime to teach evolution in public schools and colleges in Tennessee, though.

As soon as the ban was passed, one organization made it their mission to undo the law, the ACLU, but first, they needed a defendant someone to break the law, so it could be challenged.


So the ACLU posted an ad in a Tennessee newspaper, the ad caught the attention of a local businessman who lived in the Tiny Town of Dayton, Tennessee.

Is known for farming, strawberries, mining coal and iron and not much else, and it’s seen better days.


The businessman thought.

The case could be good for Dayton and pitched it to his fellow day.

Tony, INS, What some house this case?

Let’s have a trial here in Tennessee.

And reporters will come from all over will attract business will maybe get some jobs.


And so, that’s what they did.

The town just needed a Fall Guy.

Someone who they could accuse of teaching of a Ellucian and they found one and a local science teacher named John Scopes.

Scopes was a single 24, year old white man who didn’t have plans to stay in.


Dayton long-term.

Yeah, told him about the challenge and the case and asked him if he’d volunteer to stand as the nominal defendant in such a case.

So why not sounds like fun sounds interesting that same day a warrant was drawn up for Scopes his arrest.


His trial was For that July and the whole nation took notice.

Blind, Dayton, Tennessee, July 11th, 1925, Charles Darwin’s theory, that all mankind had descended from a common ancestor, a so-called Missing Link at set off the fireworks.


John T Scopes a Dayton biology teacher, and decided to test a new Tennessee law, that forbade, the teaching of any theory that denied, the Divine creation of man.

On paper.

This was a fight between Scopes and the state of Tennessee.


But in the court of public opinion, it turned into a battle between religion versus science and William Jennings.


The fundamentalist was a crusader on the side of religion.

He volunteered as a strategist for State prosecutors having flung Down The Gauntlet Brian smiled for the newsreels and sat down to prepare, his brief, but Scopes was not to face the Lions without help.


Result, but the defense had their own heavy, hitter one who happened to be Brian’s arch-nemesis.

They had a rivalry for the ages.

There’s Alien vs.


There’s Brandy versus Monica and then there’s William Jennings, Bryan versus Clarence.


Darrow Clarence, Darrow accepted Brian’s Challenge and hastened to Dayton to lock horns with a silver-tongued, orator Clarence Darrow.

By this time was Is the most famous, guess some would say, Infamous trial lawyer.


He still is in American history.

Like Brian Darrow was a masterful public speaker known to pull on heartstrings.

And Ed says, Darrow knew how to draw attention to himself, like any good trial lawyer.


He had gimmicks and his gimmick was wearing out-of-date.

Suspenders taking his coat off and having wide suspenders.

We was just Larger than Life.

I mean, this guy sounds like a real cartoon character.

Ed says Darrell wants put a wire down the middle of a cigar.


So the ash would get distractingly long.

And when his opponent was giving a very long spellbinding, closing argument.

He was smoking this cigar and the ash kept getting longer and longer and longer and the jury was just transfixed of when this ash would fall off.


And of course, it never did Darrow knew how to direct a jury’s attention.

And he hoped to capture the nation’s attention with his trial skills.

Leading them away from Brian’s fundamentalist arguments and towards his own belief.

That religious views, shouldn’t guide public policy.


She believed that biblical morality was wrong and dangerous and dangerous, because if divided people in it made them hate one, another In the days before the trial was set to begin Brian and Daryl made their way to the small town of Dayton Tennessee.


It was early July.

They were hit by the south sweltering heat and met with raucous crowds in the streets.

People have build up booths where you can throw things at at monkeys and knocking down and win prizes.

There people with Bible stalls selling Bibles.


It’s just a carnival David Spectators from all.

With a nation filed in to hear the debate.

The issue was no longer the Innocence or guilt of Scopes.

But rather the final death struggle between two, basic human philosophies fundamentalism versus modernism.


Telegraph wires were strung from the courthouse, carrying news out to the public, the town even built an airstrip so they could fly out trial footage to major cities.

The upcoming battle had been facetiously dubbed, the Monkey Trial and the public demonstrations took advantage the crowd settled back for the tie.


Titanic struggle of the two famous debaters and the work to be disappointed.

People were there to hear the famous speakers, Brian and Darrow.

The two men pushed themselves into the courtroom and the trial began Ironically in prayer.


O God, our divine father.

We recognize the as the supreme ruler of the universe.

We are incapable alone of thinking pure thoughts or performing righteous Deeds this Recording is from the great Tennessee, Monkey Trial, a play by the LA Theater Works, which will hear throughout the rest of the episode.


It’s inspired by the transcript of the trial, though.

It’s not exact hear our prayers and Grant that the president of the United States down to the most insignificant officer of this court.

Seek, the Brian’s role was to help the prosecution with strategy for him.


It wasn’t really about convicting, Scopes his hope.

OP ED says was to show that the theory of evolution had been co-opted for evil Brian’s, Hope was to argue that Evolution and teaching of evolution and belief in evolution, led to Crime LED device led to war led to the exploitation of Labor.


Led to Eugenics led to racism.

That’s what Brian originally.

It was going to argue.

But Ed says the The prosecution didn’t like the idea.

They didn’t think they’d find expert witnesses to defend those claims.


So, they switched the last minute and simply argue that Scopes violated the law Darrow and the defense’s strategy was more complicated.

They didn’t want to prove Scopes is innocence.


They wanted to use the trial to show that the law undermined freedom of speech protections.

Darrow added to that argument saying church and state should be separate the Scopes trial became a fight.

For America’s Soul was Brian going to convince the country to stick to its religious Orthodoxy, or would Darrow get people to embrace?


The teaching of evolution for Darrow’s part.

He wanted to refute Brian’s idea that Evolution was evil.

Darrow drove the point home.

When cross-examining one of Scopes as students.

Did he tell you what?

Distinguish mammals from other animals.


I don’t remember, but he said that dogs and horses and monkeys and cows and man and whales, they were all mammals.

Yes, sir, but I don’t know about the whales.

Well, did he tell you anything else?

That was wicked?


No, sir, and it’s not hurt you and he has it.

No, sir.

That’s all.

This was Darrow taking Digs at the other side, but he was only just getting started.

He was saving his real big swings for Brian himself.


The fundamentalist gets called to the stand after the break.

Welcome back.

We left off with Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan sparring in the trial of the century going head-to-head in a battle of science, versus religion.


Well battle but really more like spectacle because these two leaned into the drama whenever they could And that drama escalated when Darrow made an unconventional, ask the judge had thrown out the defense’s scientific expert testimony.


So Darrow got creative.

If he couldn’t examine a scientific expert, he would call on a religious one or at least a self-proclaimed expert on the Bible, his rival William Jennings Bryan and for some reason Brian agreed, Ed Larson, Pepperdine history.


Professor has his guests as to why he thinks he’s going to get questions about Evolution and is a dangerous or about popular control.

Over Public Schools, things like that.

Instead Darrell question.

Brian about his literal interpretations of the Bible Darrow asked Brian a variety of standard questions.


Have been asked for 2,000 years.

Did Joshua lengthen the day by making the Sun or the Earth standstill?

Do you believe the world was created?

In six literal days within the last 10,000 years.

Do you have any idea how old the Earth is?


No, the Bible.

You’ve introduced into evidence tells you doesn’t II, don’t think it does.

Well, let’s see.

If it doesn’t, it doesn’t it says 4004 BC right now that that is Bishop ussher sky.

Would you say that the Earth was only four thousand and four years old?


Oh, no, no, no, no.

No, I think, I think it’s much older than that.


How much older?

I couldn’t say Brian’s testimony sounded like he was admitting that.


The Bible shouldn’t be taken literally and the result is Brian, looks like an absolute Fool on the witness stand.

Ed says Brian was ridiculed in the press in a scathing report.

The London star wrote, the Brian’s faith quote might not move mountains, but it is quite sufficient to shake.


The flimsy foundations of a shack in, Tennessee.

Ouch, that’s a 1920s burn.

If I’ve ever heard one, the next day.

The jury was asked to deliberate the jury in a matter of minutes.

They don’t even leave the courtroom.


They convict Scopes.

So John Scopes the young teacher who volunteered for the trial was found guilty of violating the butler act and well it wasn’t that big of a deal for Scopes himself.

He was fined 100 bucks which both Brian and the ACLU.


You offered to pay for him and Scopes ended up leaving his teaching job deciding to get a graduate degree instead.

But again Scopes teaching evolution wasn’t really the issue.

The real impact of the trial was that it divided the country and ignited, the culture wars, which would rage for decades to come and so the culture wars were launched and Dayton and the two sides were energized.


And to this day, the issue remains a tremendously divided and divisive popular issue.

And that’s the legacy of the Let’s try Angie Maxwell, a professor of political science at the University of Arkansas agrees.


She says, the real Legacy is the division, the trial stoked in the public Consciousness when you create that false equivalency.

That you’re either for us or you’re against us, right.

It’s either the Bible or science, you know, that seem to have some effect on kind of radicalizing the community and Dayton in a fundamentalist way.


So, I think you had a lot of people that weren’t even big part of the anti-evolution movement, but they are afterwards.

Angie says, people felt like they had to choose a side, a false choice between believing in science and believing in God and some religious.


People felt mocked and dismissed fundamentalist felt beat up, but they felt ridiculed.

They felt like their leader had been, you know bullied on the stand till death.

Basically Brian died in his sleep.

Just five days after the trial ended making him.


Martyr for the fundamentalist, cause the ACLU appealed Scopes, his case.

His conviction was overturned on a technicality but the Tennessee law Banning Evolution was allowed to stand in the few years following the Scopes trial conservative, lawmakers across the country proposed, vaguely worded bills with the aim of restricting, modern ideas from public schools, other states passed bans on Evolution, but they’re just like kind of those laws on the books that are theater and no one’s really interested in actually enforcing them.


These laws stayed on the books until the late 1960s.

That’s when the US Supreme Court.

Heard a challenge against Arkansas’s ban on teaching evolution the court.

Found the law, violated the First Amendment separation of church and state and that ruling lifted bands on the teaching of evolution Nationwide.


The fight around.

What should be taught in schools, though.

That was far from over.

Let’s Zoom forward a few decades 20 just last year.

You believe school system should tell children what to do.


I believe parents should be in charge of the kids education.

I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually takes a little child make their own decision, vetoed it.

So, I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach Cuts in this clip from the 2021, Virginia.


Governor’s race.

You here, Glenn young caen, then the Republican candidate up against Terry McAuliffe.

The Democratic incumbent.

It’s typically difficult to unseat.

An incumbent, but youngin had a strategy.

He focused a large part of his campaign on one specific hot-button issue, parents rights.


Parents rights is a term popular among conservative politicians at the moment though.

It’s been criticized as being deceptive.

Since many parents disagree with policies, claiming to protect their rights, young can evoke the term and ads, and speeches and petitions.


He was tapping into parents frustration over pandemic.

Restrictions in schools and he won friends.

We’re gonna embrace our parents not ignore them. we’re gonna press forward with a curriculum that includes listening to parents in, put a curriculum that allows our children to run as fast as they can teaching them Public Schools across the country have become a Battleground for conservative politicians lawmakers in Iowa, Missouri, and a handful of other states are proposing funding cuts to schools that use the new X is award-winning 1619 project which examines the legacy of slavery in US history and in Florida Governor, Ron, DeSantis signed.


What’s known as the don’t say gay bill into law, forbidding teachers, from discussing, sexual orientation, and gender identity before the fourth grade variations of these restrictions are being copied around the country.

Angie says these tactics tap into some really intense feelings and activate parents regardless of where they stand on the issues.


Issue, it’s very much meant to cause anxiety and distress and enrage parents, you know, you can just see the anger and I think a lot of that has been manufactured.

Manufactured, Angie says and that it’s more about political theater than actual substantive policy.


It’s an important distinction.

One that was clear at least to some when this culture War Began almost a century ago at the conclusion of the Scopes trial some newspapers.

Covered it like a performance one.

New York Times Reporter wrote each side withdrew at the end of the struggle satisfied that it had.


Unmasked the Absurd pretensions of the Other other articles dismiss the trial altogether saying it was quote, a trivial thing full of hum buggery and hypocrisy.

Now, I don’t know exactly what humbug re means.


But I have a sneaking suspicion, it still applies because all this performance.

It distorts, it leaves us with a discourse, charged up, and fear, and anxiety, and anger.

And if the u.s.

Claims democracy, as this great American tradition, It’s got a claim political theater as well.


It too is an American tradition.


Not passed it as a Spotify original produced by gimlet and zsp media.

This episode was produced by Sarah Craig, next week.

We’re revisiting our story about AIDS vaccine.

The AIDS vaccine that almost was every year.

There was some institution, or business, you know, coming forward, raising people’s lives, that they have the lead on some research, that’s going to produce the HIV.


Vaccine the rest of our team, our associate producers Ramona, Philip and Julie, Carly.

Laura Newcombe is our production assistant.

The supervising producer is Erica Morrison editing, by any Gilbertson Andrea, be Scott and Zach Stewart Ponte fact-checking, by Jane, Ackerman sound design and mixing by Hans Dale.


She original music by Sachs kicks, Ave.

Willie Green.

J bless and Bobby.


Our theme song is Toko, Liana by cocoa with music supervision by Liz Fulton technical Direction by Zach Schmidt show.

Art by Elysee Harvin and Talia Rahman, the executive producer a DSP media is Zach Stewart Ponte a, the executive producer from gimlet as Matt schulze.


We used excerpts from the great Tennessee.

Monkey Trial, audio docudrama provided by La theaterworks.

The complete piece is available for purchase at l8e,, special.

Thanks to Susan Epperson, Tom Davis, Adam lats and to Lydia Pole Green Abbie.


Ruzicka, Dan Behar Jen hon.

Emily wiedemann, Liz Style.

And Joshua Bianchi follow not past it.

Now to listen for free exclusively on Spotify.

Click the little bell next to the follow button to get notifications for new episodes.

And while you’re there.

Hey, why don’t you write us 5 Stars?


You can follow me on Twitter at Simone.

Pullin on, thanks for hanging.

We’ll see you next week.

John Scopes disagreed with a lot but he wasn’t very political and he was not particularly religious.


He said afterwards that he did go to church occasionally go he could as he put it not my words as he put it.

It’s a nice to nice place to pick up girls.

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