Inherit the Wind and Dayton today

I’d not seen “Inherit the Wind” about the Scopes “Monkey” trial in another Dayton, Dayton Tennessee. Now I have and there are some parables for this modern day Dayton to be recognized: note: all indented text via Inherit the Wind (1960) – Memorable quotes.

Henry Drummond (the movie name for Clarence Darrow): Progress has never been a bargain. You have to pay for it.

In Dayton, Ohio, we’ve had unbridled sprawl and development. We’ve seen the expansion of our community beyond its capacity to support it. Even today we are building fire stations at Austin Road- for those that will come– not those that are here.

Henry Drummond: Sometimes I think there’s a man who sits behind a counter and says, “All right, you can have a telephone but you lose privacy and the charm of distance.”

We’ve been told who we should vote for, we’ve had people discouraged from running, we’ve been told what we need, from new interchanges to the world’s largest fountain with a laser light show that will wow the world. What we’ve lost is our sense of pride, for it’s not what we built anymore, but what we’re supposed to build and how we’re supposed to be. It’s not been good enough to be Dayton, we must grow- because the people in the development business say that’s what we must do. And once they’ve exhausted our ability to continue- they will move on, leaving us with less than we started with.

Henry Drummond: Madam, you may vote but at a price. You lose the right to retreat behind the powder puff or your petticoat.

We are told to vote for those who raise the most in campaign funds, not for those who raise the issues. It is important to be one with the masses, for the masses always know what’s right.

Henry Drummond: Mister, you may conquer the air but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline.

And we must always worship at the feet of the Wright Brothers- because only they have risen above. So is the word, so say we all.

But when the movie’s Darrow asked Scopes how he wanted to live- it reminded me of the advice all give me- just fall in line, work within the system and then effect change:

But all you have to do is knock on any door and say, “If you let me in, I’ll live the way you want me to live, and I’ll think the way you want me to think,” and all the blinds’ll go up and all the windows will open, and you’ll never be lonely, ever again. If that’s the case, I’ll change the plea – that is, if you know the law’s right and you’re wrong.

I was asked to plead guilty once, to questioning the Dayton City Commission’s wishes to stop citizens from asking questions of those elected to represent them, and I’ve paid the price. Our city has closed the doors and windows on public discourse more times than we know- from secret, un-documented “work sessions” of the Dayton City Commission- to handing out money to the Dayton Development Coalition’s shell companies (Development Projects Inc) that can be turned over to the Congressman’s wife’s firm for “Get Midwest.” I guess I could just shut-up and go with the flow.

Bertram T. Cates (movie name for John T. Scopes): Where do I finish? Dead with a paper medal on my chest? ‘Bert Cates, World’s Chump, he Died Fighting.’ Well, let’s face it – to him I’m a headline, to you I’m a cause?
Henry Drummond: And to yourself? All right, let’s face it. Now you chose to get into this by yourself. You didn’t get into it because of his headline or because of my cause or maybe even because of their kids! You got into it because of yourself, because of something you believed in, for yourself.
Bertram T. Cates: I didn’t believe it would happen this way.
E. K. Hornbeck: (movie name for Baltimore Sun columnist H.L. Mencken) It can get worse, those people are in a lean and hungry mood.
E. K. Hornbeck: They look at me as if I was a murderer.
Henry Drummond: In a way you are. You killed one of their fairy tale notions.

Dayton has it’s share of sacred cows (fairy tales)- starting with the Wright Brothers and John H. Patterson, all the way to Tony Hall and Mike Turner. But we’ve been missing the journalist to uncover the real story in Dayton Ohio. Those that fight city hall quickly get labeled chumps. Those that question the status quo are crackpots.

Could there be a different way to do things here? Sure. Is anyone willing to step forward and lead the way? Any volunteers?

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