This film is based on the trial of a teacher who was arrested for teaching his high school science class about Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. In the small, Southern town of Hillsboro, it was considered illegal to teach students any theory about the existence of human beings that did not agree with the theory that is taught in the bible. The people and representative for the town, such as the mayor and reverend, are fully in support of the arrest and trial. They believe that their town should continue to be seen as a place that holds their religious morals to the upmost honor, regardless of what others may think. The people in the town of Hillsboro were willing to stifle the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion by persecuting anyone they didn’t believe to be a “man or woman of god.”
If everyone acted in the manner of the people in this film who believed that putting this teacher on trial for criminal charges, the people of this country may have never earned the rights to freedom of speech and religion. The people would rather hold on to the thought that what they have learned from their religion is the only truth that exists than to give others the right to have their own opinions and to think for themselves. The simple right to think freely and form your own opinions would be entire stifled if everyone acted the same as the town’s people in this film.
According to the thoughts and opinions of the majority people in the town of Hillsboro, even if one is entirely faithful to their own religion and has no intention of changing their beliefs, it is still not okay for them to learn about and form thoughts about any other theories and theologies. This attitude promotes ignorance amongst people and could lead to a refusal of people to accept any person who has beliefs that differ from their own.
In this case the defense was not allowed to call any witnesses that could educate the members of the jury about evolution. The court would not hear the testimony of any experts in zoology, archeology, or geology; the judge agreed with the prosecutions objections that these experts’ testimony would be irrelevant to the case. When an expert in the bible was called to the stand, the judge would not allow the defense attorney to read this expert any excerpts from The Theory of Evolution by Darwin, as no scientific evidence was admissible.
Having mindsets like those of the people of Hillsboro limit the amount of knowledge that can ever be gained by one individual or by humans as a collective group. It is better to encourage thinking for one’s self and forming one’s own opinions. If everyone thought the way the people in the film thought, it would be a crime to teach of any religion besides the most prominent religion in your geographical area. This would violate the constitutional rights of every American to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.