The Accuracy of Inherit the Wind
The movie Inherit the Wind gave an ample, in depth view as to what the Scopes Trial was all about. The film uses information about the trial and the law it was about, but most times misconstrues that information. The film does give a great perspective as to what the actual trial was all about, but it is not very factual. The movie portrays some in a positive way and others in a negative way, but overall the movie Inherit the Wind get its point across about the Scopes Trial while being extremely inaccurate. The movie Inherit the Wind gives us a plain and simple story that the State of Tennessee passed a statute prohibiting the teaching of evolution. But in fact there was much more to it, in fact, in 1925 the Tennessee government passed the Butler Act which made it a misdemeanor to teach the evolution of only one species; mankind; in public schools. The evolution of almost all other plant and animal life (which is about 2 million species) or the evolution of the earth or the solar system could all be taught as either a persuasive theory or proven fact without violating the Butler Act. In the film it seems as though the Tennessee statute gave an unfair advantage to Christianity over evolution in the classroom. But actually, the intent of the Butler Act was not to favor Christianity over evolution but to put the two theories on a level playing field of silence. The violation of the statute is clearly what the issue was but the punishment was slightly incorrect in the film. In the film it seemed that violation of the law was punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. When in fact the Butler Act provided only for a fine from $100 to $500, which is the same fine they would have gotten for bootlegging, there was in fact no jail time stated in the Act. In the movie, Cates; who represents Scopes; was put in prison, which according to the law was improper. Bertram Cates (John Scopes in real life) in the movie was a high school biology teacher in Hillsboro; he was arrested by a grim priest and heavy-handed men as he was teaching evolution in his classroom. But John Scopes was not that biology teacher in real life, he was a high school football coach and mathematics teacher who only substituted for the biology teacher, he never taught evolution. He was actually not guilty of this crime; even so, Scopes cooperated in a plan to test the constitutionality of the Butler Act. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had advertised in Tennessee newspapers, asking for a willing and ready teacher/defendant. This ad was answered by Scopes with the reinforcement of a few town fathers on both sides of the evolution issue. Their reasoning was simply that such a case, if held in the local courthouse, would boost the economic prospects of their small and shrinking town. Correspondingly, Scopes was in fact not arrested by hostile men; he was arrested by his friend, Sue Hicks, the City Attorney of Dayton. In Inherit the Wind Cates was put in jail where he was hit in the head by a bottle thrown through the window of his cell, he was threatened of being lynched from a ‘sour apple tree,’ and was made to be feared by all. But in fact, Scopes was well-liked by the people of Dayton. He was never jailed; he violated a misdemeanor law; he never faced jail time, and was welcome by all in Dayton before, during, and after the trial. There were no bottles, no lynch threats, and no angry mobs either. Actually it was quite the opposite, Scopes had only lives in Dayton for about a year prior to the trial, he was a newcomer, and because of this, the kindness and generosity of the people of Dayton toward Scopes was all the more admirable. Another thing that was inaccurately presented in Inherit the Wind was how Brady, the prosecution, actively opposed the teaching of evolution in public schools. His real life counterpart Bryan did not oppose the teaching of evolution in public schools. He in fact only opposed the teaching the...
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