Kansas has long been a battlefield between America's religious right and supporters of Darwin. In 1925, the Scopes Monkey Trial saw the state's unsuccessful attempt to stop the teaching of any aspect of evolution, including the theory that man and apes share a common ancestor.
No, that was Tennessee. Never mind – just call it an excuse for a dose of Mencken. Like the pastafarians, Mencken’s aim at the Scopes trial was to make creationism ridiculous. Behind that, the serious purpose was the same too.
Darrow has lost this case. It was lost long before he came to Dayton. But it seems to me that he has nevertheless performed a great public service by fighting it to a finish and in a perfectly serious way. Let no one mistake it for comedy, farcical though it may be in all its details. It serves notice on the country that Neanderthal man is organizing in these forlorn backwaters of the land, led by a fanatic, rid of sense and devoid of conscience. Tennessee, challenging him too timorously and too late, now sees its courts converted into camp meetings and its Bill of Rights made a mock of by its sworn officers of the law. There are other States that had better look to their arsenals before the Hun is at their gates.
Eighty years ago. Since when, the US seems to have got precisely nowhere. The evidence is more overwhelming than ever, of course. But what does that matter.