Thursday, August 03, 2006

Welcome To Year Two

Since today marks the official one year anniversary of this blog, I thought I should mention it.

So I just did.

The day I started I posted several stories, including one from a Pew Research study which stated that in their reckoning, 15,000 new blogs a day were being created - one about every 5.8 seconds. And that's about how long it seems to me the year has lasted - about 5.8 seconds.

Some 40,000 page views have occurred so far. The one post which means the most to me over the last year was a copy of a speech my sister-in-law made to freshman students at Berry College and what happened after it was posted. She spoke about her mother's cousin, Gisele, who had literally disappeared from the face of the earth when Nazis forced her aboard a train destined for concentration camp. At a commenter's suggestion, yet another checking of holocaust records was undertaken to see if any information had ever materialized. The family had checked many, many times before. But when another check was made that day - a record was found and a sad and unknown fate at least became known.

That post is here, and it's worth reading if you missed it - not for my words, but for Katherine's, and her wisdom about stories and how they are told, how they are complex and how they can also be simple.

I also realized today that August 3rd is the birthdate of a man whose name is well known - John Scopes, a teacher put on trial for teaching evolution theory in Tennessee. John had agreed to be a sort of guinea pig for the ACLU, which promised to finance a court challenge to the law banning teaching evolution. Scopes was convicted and fined, but the state Supreme Court later overturned the conviction though they said the Butler Act was constitutional. Oddly, at the time of these events, the state mandated all schools use a textbook - Civic Biology - which included a chapter on evolution.

The Butler Act, presented to the legislature by John Washington Butler, remained in effect in Tennessee until 1967. The occasionally dubious WikiPedia site offers this info on the Butler Act:

Reportedly dismayed the legislature had passed the bill, but needing the support of rural legislators for educational reform, Governor Austin Peay signed the Butler Act into law on March 21, 1925. Peay told the press: "After a careful examination, I can find nothing of consequence in the books now being taught in our schools with which this bill will interfere in the slightest manner. Therefore, it will not put our teachers in jeopardy. Probably the law will never be applied." A Tennessee lawyer, in an often quoted line, said: "The Legislature did not know it passed the fool thing." However it was several weeks before a single educator could be induced to express an opinion on the subject, and the head of the zoology department at the University of Tennessee refused to show his zoology textbooks to reporters. The University's president secretly issued unofficial instructions to his faculty to make no changes in their instruction."

" ... on appeal the Tennessee Supreme Court found the law to be constitutional under the Constitution of Tennessee, because:
"We are not able to see how the prohibition of teaching the theory that man has descended from a lower order of animals gives preference to any religious establishment or mode of worship. So far as we know, there is no religious establishment or organized body that has in its creed or confession of faith any article denying or affirming such a theory." Scopes v. State 289 S.W. 363, 367 (Tenn. 1927).

Despite this decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the conviction on a technicality (that the jury should have fixed the amount of the fine), and the case was not retried. During the trial, Butler told reporters: "I never had any idea my bill would make a fuss. I just thought it would become a law, and that everybody would abide by it and that we wouldn't hear any more of evolution in Tennessee."

The law remained on the books until 1967, when a dismissed teacher complained that it violated his First Amendment right to free speech. Fearing another courtroom fiasco, the Tennessee legislature repealed the law."

So Happy Birthday to John Scopes.

And Happy B-Day fer the Cup of Joe.


  1. So happy that you decided to blog.. love your words of wisdom!
    Happy anniversary..

  2. Thanks Sande -- your blogging is always most enjoyable too!! Seems there is seldom a shortage of stories that need telling and re-telling these days.