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Coyne Toss: Who's Your Hero?

Our colleague Michael Egnor has questioned Jerry Coyne's fawning praise for John T. Scopes, compete with a recent somewhat ghoulish graveside embrace of the man's tombstone. As Dr. Egnor points out, Scopes taught from a biology textbook laced with the most hair-racing racism. Now with the passing of Nelson Mandela, a genuine hero, Coyne turns cluelessly from one embrace to another:

All men are mortal, but I always hoped Mandela would be the one exception.


We all knew he would go soon, but we already have too few heroes among us, and now there's one fewer.

The sentiment is certainly accurate, though I could do without the sugary prose that somehow makes you want to brush your teeth afterward.

Mandela, pivotal in ending apartheid, is a hero. True. But Scopes -- who achieved fame by teaching from a textbook that hailed "Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America" as the "highest type of all" and recommended European eugenic efforts as a solution to human "parasitism" -- is also a hero?

Does Coyne really not see the contradiction?