Saturday, November 24, 2007

Inherit The Wind - a bigoted play

This comes originally from The Western Confucian and to me via The Young Fogey's A Conservative Blog For Peace -- It concerns the famous Scopes "Monkey Trial" in which John T. Scopes was convicted for teaching Darwin's theory of Evolution in Tennessee where it was illegal to do so (as teaching Holocaust revisionism would be today).

"The truth about Scopes Inherit the Wind is fiction. William Jennings Bryan wasn’t an idiot (even if he was well-intendedly off in his politics like Jim Wallis today); he was a Christian who gave the text Scopes used a chance and was horrified by its then-hip racism (remember the party chatter about ‘Nordics’ in The Great Gatsby?):

...the Progressive William Jennings Bryan, who argued in the Scopes Monkey Trial that evolution meant elevating "supposedly superior intellects," "eliminating the weak," "paralyzing the hope of reform," jeopardizing "the doctrine of brotherhood," and undermining "the sympathetic activities of a civilized society."Take modern liberalism (including neoconservatism) to its conclusion and ‘Nazi supermen are our friends’."

I want to add that Inherit the Wind is bad drama. The movie is OK because of the superlative acting of Spencer Tracy and Frederick March. But the script by Jerome Lawrence (born Jerome Schwartz) is weak and the play is bad. I've seen it. It would not have survived had it not been for the satisfaction it gives to a certain American class of intellectuals who need to hate American gentiles and find in the primitive faith of middle American protestantism the perfect target.

The play creates a town called Hillsboro full of naive middle American protestants who are enforcing their religious belief in a young Earth by prosecuting the local high school biology teacher who is teaching Darwin's theory of evolution.

My problem with the play (and I've seen it) is that it has no conflict because it portrays the town of Hillsboro as a town full of stupid, bigoted, (Christian) hicks. While the hero, Henry Drummond (an agnostic) is brilliant, kind, noble (for most sympathetic directors - handsome) and of course - right.

Drama is all about conflict. But when one side is a punching bag for the other (as the town of Hillsboro is here for Drummond, there is no conflict; there can be no drama. If this play fits your bigoted stereotypes the y0u need to look at your fellow man as a human - instead of your


PS: When the verdict is announced, Brady protests, loudly and angrily, that the fine is too lenient. In reality, Scopes was fined the minimum the law required, and Bryan offered to pay the fine.

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