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Chapter 14. CANARIES IN THE COAL MINE > The ACLU: The Granddaddy of Canaries

The ACLU: The Granddaddy of Canaries

The American Civil Liberties Union is the advocacy organization that is associated with support of unpopular causes. Formed in 1920 during a time of extreme isolationism in the United States, the ACLU first defended the rights of newcomers to the United States to stay and speak out. Politically radical immigrants were being harassed and deported. The ACLU stepped forward to defend the rights of these people to speak out against war, for trade-unionism, and for other positions that were definitely anti-establishment at that time

The ACLU was the supporting organization that hired Clarence Darrow to argue the famous Scopes trial in Tennessee in which a biology teacher was tried for ignoring the ban on teaching evolution. The 1925 trial was famous for the quality of oratory on both sides, with William Jennings Bryan arguing the state's case. we frequently forget that Mr. Darrow lost the case because we now protect the ability of teachers to teach evolution. Inherit the Wind, the 1960 screen gem starring Spencer Tracy and Frederic March in the thinly disguised parts of Darrow and Bryan, quoted extensively from the transcripts of the trial itself. Like many other significant arguments of policy and passion, the right of teachers to teach evolution has been challenged again and again.


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