Clarence Darrow

By | April 1, 2009

The 16-week “University” Class of Nonviolence contains a Darrow essay, “Resist Not Evil,” an early argument for restorative justice rather than the more typical vengeful justice. A temptation would be to augment this essay by showing a video clip from “Inherit the Wind,” the excellent play based on the Scopes Monkey Trial, but this does not get to the heart of Darrow’s philosophy about justice. The perfect video is of Henry Fonda’s one-man show, “Clarence Darrow,” which was filmed for TV in 1974 and is available from Kultur Films for less than $20. It is a brilliant production (I saw him perform it in London) that covers the Haymarket trial, Big Bill Haywood, the Pullman strike, the Pennsylvania coal miners, the bombing of the LA Times and defense of the McNamara brothers, the Scopes trial, Leopold and Loeb and the Ossian Sweet trial, a landmark in the civil rights movement. The chapter called “Chicago Justice” includes Darrow’s views on the death penalty: it would also go well with lesson seven of the Class of Nonviolence. The 81 minute video is neatly divided into segments of less than 10 minutes each and any one of them would work well in a class.

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