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Clarence Darrow (1857 – 1938)


American lawyer, best known for having defended teenaged thrill killers Leopold and Loeb in their trial for murdering 14 year old Bobby Franks (1924) and defending John T Scopes in the so-called "Monkey" Trial (1925), opposing William Jennings Bryan.
Clarence Darrow
In Geneva lived Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He too was a rebel, mighty in war. Voltaire was keener, wittier, deeper, greater. Rousseau was more fiery, emotional, passionate. Both were really warriors in the same great cause. From their different places, three miles apart, both sent forth their thunderbolts to wake a sleeping world. When the world awakened and shook itself, churches, thrones, institutions, laws, and customs were buried in the wreck. Some charged the wreck to Voltaire, some to Rousseau.
Darrow quotes
Can anyone with intelligence really believe that a child born today should be doomed because the snake tempted Eve and Eve tempted Adam? To believe that is not God-worship; it is devil-worship.
Can anyone call this scheme of creation and damnation moral? It defies every principle of morality, as man conceives morality. Can anyone believe today that the whole world was destroyed by flood, save only Noah and his family and a male and female of each species of animal that entered the Ark? There are almost a million species of insects alone. How did Noah match these up and make sure of getting male and female to reproduce life in the world after the flood had spent its force? And why should all the lower animals have been destroyed? Were they included in the sinning of man? This is a story which could not beguile a fairly bright child of five years of age today.
Darrow
Much of his work he did while confined to his bed. He was always an invalid, always obliged to take great care of himself, living constantly with death just before him, never idle a moment for fear his work would not be done. Probably no man ever lived who assailed the Church and the State with the same wit and keenness that was always at Voltaire's command; and yet in spite of this he managed to live comfortably, accumulate riches and die in peace.




Darrow Clarence quotes
Many Christians base the belief of a soul and God upon the Bible. Strictly speaking, there is no such book. To make the Bible, sixty-six books are bound into one volume. These books are written by many people at different times, and no one knows the time or the identity of any author. Some of the books were written by several authors at various times. These books contain all sorts of contradictory concepts of life and morals and the origin of things. Between the first and the last nearly a thousand years intervened, a longer time than has passed since the discovery of America by Columbus.
Darrow Clarence
To say that God made the universe gives us no explanation of the beginnings of things. If we are told that God made the universe, the question immediately arises: Who made God? Did he always exist, or was there some power back of that? Did he create matter out of nothing, or is his existence coextensive with matter? The problem is still there. What is the origin of it all? If, on the other hand, one says that the universe was not made by God, that it always existed, he has the same difficulty to confront. To say that the universe was here last year, or millions of years ago, does not explain its origin. This is still a mystery. As to the question of the origin of things, man can only wonder and doubt and guess.
Clarence Darrow quotes
When Voltaire was born there was really but one church which, of course, was ignorant, tyrannical and barbarous in the extreme. All creeds are alike, and whenever there is but one, and the rulers honestly believe in that one, they are bound to be ignorant, barbarous and cruel. All sorts of heresies were punishable by death. If anyone dared to write a pamphlet or book that questioned any part of the accepted faith, the book was at once consigned to flames and the author was lucky if he did not meet the same fate. Religion was not maintained by the precepts of the priest, but by the prison, the torture chamber and the fagot. Everyone believed; no one questioned. The religious creeds, while strict and barbarous, did not interfere with the personal conduct of any of the rulers. They were left free to act as they pleased, so long as they professed to believe in the prevailing faith.
Clarence Darrow
Autobiography is never entirely true. No one can get the right perspective on himself. Every fact is colored by imagination and dream. The young look forth across the sea to a mirage of fairylands filled with hidden treasures; the aged turn to the fading past, and through the mist and haze that veils once familiar scenes, bygone events assume weird and fanciful proportions.
Darrow Clarence quotes
Valiantly he fought on every intellectual battlefield. True he bowed and dodged and lied over and over again, that he still might live and work. Many of his admirers cannot forgive this in the great Voltaire. Rather they would have had him, like Bruno and Servetus, remain steadfast to his faith while his living body was consumed with flames. But, Voltaire was Voltaire, Bruno was Bruno, and Servetus was Servetus. It is not for the world to judge, but to crown them all alike. Each and all lived out their own being, did their work in their own way, and carried a reluctant, stupid humanity to greater possibilities and grander heights.
Darrow
Wars always bring about a conservative reaction. They overwhelm and destroy patient and careful efforts to improve the condition of man. Nothing can be heard in the cannon's roar but the voice of might. All the safeguards laboriously built to preserve individual freedom and foster man's welfare are blown to pieces with shot and shell. In the presence of the wholesale slaughter of men the value of life is cheapened to the zero point. What is one life compared with the almost daily records of tens of thousands or more mowed down like so many blades of grass in a field? Building up a conception of the importance of life is a matter of slow growth and education; and the work of generations is shattered and laid waste by machine guns and gases on a larger scale than ever before. Great wars have been followed by an unusually large number of killings between private citizens and individuals. These killers have become accustomed to thinking in terms of slaying and death toward all opposition, and these have been followed in turn by the most outrageous legal penalties and a large increase in the number of executions by the state. It is perfectly clear that hate begets hate, force is met with force, and cruelty can become so common that its contemplation brings pleasure, when it should produce pain.
Darrow Clarence
Had the modern professors of eugenics had power in France in 1694, they probably would not have permitted such a child to have been born. Their scientific knowledge would have shown conclusively that no person of value could have come from the union of his father and mother. In those days, nature had not been instructed by the professors of eugenics and so Voltaire was born.
Clarence Darrow
What of the tale of Balaam's ass speaking to him, probably in Hebrew? Is it true, or is it a fable? Many asses have spoken, and doubtless some in Hebrew, but they have not been that breed of asses. Is salvation to depend on a belief in a monstrosity like this?




Clarence Darrow quotes
I had grown tired of standing in the lean and lonely front line facing the greatest enemy that ever confronted man public opinion.
Clarence Darrow
If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools, and the next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men. If you can do one you can do the other. Ignorance and fanaticism is ever busy and needs feeding. Always it is feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers, tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lectures, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After a while, your honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind.
Darrow quotes
Do you, good people, believe that Adam and Eve were created in the Garden of Eden and that they were forbidden to eat from the tree of knowledge? I do. The church has always been afraid of that tree. It still is afraid of knowledge. Some of you say religion makes people happy. So does laughing gas. So does whiskey. I believe in the brain of man. I'm not worried about my soul.
Darrow Clarence
You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free.
Darrow Clarence quotes
I was truly sorry for Mr. Bryan. But I consoled myself by thinking of the years through which he had busied himself tormenting intelligent professors with impudent questions about their faith, and seeking to arouse the ignoramuses and bigots to drive them out of their positions.
Clarence Darrow
All men do the best they can. But none meet life honestly and few heroically.
Clarence Darrow quotes
I feel as I always have, that the earth is the home and the only home of man, and I am convinced that whatever he is to get out of his existence he must get while he is here.
Clarence Darrow
To disband the armies and destroy the forts, to diffuse love and brotherhood, and peace and justice in the place of war and strife, could tend only to the buidling up of character, the elevation of the soul, and the strenght and well-being of the state. p. 39
Darrow Clarence
There is no such thing as justice in or out of court.


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