Gunsmoke (1955–1975): Season 20, Episode 17 - The Fires of Ignorance - full transcript

One of the series' most honored episodes centers on whether youngsters have the right -- and the duty -- to get a free public education. A teenage farm boy is holed up in the corncrib reading a borrowed copy of "The Iliad" when a fox gets into the henhouse, killing three chickens. The boy's father gives him a whipping to remember and considers taking him out of school. The middle-aged schoolteacher (Allen Garfield in a prototype of his "Teachers" movie role) figures out what happened and continues to encourage the student, giving him a copy of "The Odyssey" next. The father finds the book and burns it. Then he physically hauls the son out of school, bowling over the teacher in the process. The teacher goes to Matt and swears out a warrant for the father's arrest on assault charges. In the ensuing courtroom trial, Doc (in Milburn Stone's last major role on the series) is called on the testify about the value of a public education, while the teacher drills his own student on the knowledge he has picked up and how much use it could be.


With Milburn Stone as Doc...

Ken Curtis as Festus...

Buck Taylor as Newly...

And starring James
Arness as Matt Dillon.

(gentle music)


What is it?



(gentle music)

These two and the one
the fox got away with

while you were sittin'
here with your nose

stuck in that book.

I'm sorry, Pa.

Sorry don't mean nothin'
to them dead chickens

and it don't mean nothin' to me
when I keep hearin' you say it so often.

Now, bend over that barrel.

But, Pa.

Do like I tell you, boy.

- Bye, Ma.
- Bye.

- (Tommy) Bye, Pa.
- (Oliver) You won't be going, son.

Well, I gotta go.

Mr. Decory is having
a test today and...

well, it's awful important.

There's work to be done here.

I'll work with you after
school, Pa, I promise.

There's no more
discussin' it, boy.

Now get back in the house and
change into your work clothes.

Go on.

- But.
- Go on.

You take these to
the teacher, honey.

Tell them Tommy won't
be needing them anymore.


Tell 'em I need Tommy
here on the farm.

He won't be going
to school anymore.


Yes, Pa.

Oliver, he couldn't
just work after school?

No school at all,
it'll break his heart.

He's our only son.

We built this for
him to give him roots.

But he's drifted
from us and the land.

He's dreamin' dreams
that have nothing to do

with you and me or the farm.

And that's gonna leave empty
everything we worked for.

(solemn music)

(Mr. Decory) Good
morning, class.

(Children) Good
morning, Mr. Decory.

History books, please.

You're late, Sallie.

I'm sorry, Mr. Decory.

Page 86.

Where's Tommy this morning?

He's home, Mr. Decory.

Pa says he needs him
working on the farm.

Hm-mm, for how long?

Pa said he may never
come back to school no more.

I don't understand, Sallie.

When did your
father decide this?

Fox got in our
chicken coop last night.

You know Tommy's
supposed to be keeping watch.

Pa caught him reading.

Told me to give you these back.


(Ma) Come and get it.

Ow, ooh.

Here, let me see that.

You know, I know you don't like
being taken out of school, Tommy.

When a man works with his hands

and something good comes of it,

well, it's a feelin' you
can't get out of any books.

That's my teacher,
Pa. That's Mr. Decory.

You'd better go inside now.

Go on.

Go on.

Hot day. Afternoon, Mr. Harker.


I understand you're keeping
your son out of school.

That's right.

Mr. Harker, I'm sure you
believe you have valid reasons

for that decision, but
Tommy's become a fine student.

He's gonna be a farmer.

He knows how to
cipher, read and write.

That's all a man of
the land needs to know.

And I thank you for
teaching him that.

Right now, he's needed here.

Good afternoon
to you, Mr. Decory.

Mr. Harker, I'd be willing to
come here every night to tutor him.

It's plain, Mr. Decory, that
you... never worked a farm before.

After a hard day's work,

you're lucky if you stay
awake through supper.

It's time for a man to rest,

look back on the day...

and ready himself for the next.

No time for books.

Mr. Harker, there's got to be
time for books and learning.

Time must be made for it.

I'll decide what time must
be made for, Mr. Decory,

in my house.

Now, get off my land.

But, Mr. Harker...

(solemn music)

I don't know, you'd
think he'd be proud

and he'd do anything
to see the boy develop.

How's Tommy feel about it?

Oh, he loves school.

You know, in all my time of teaching I've
never run into a boy with his intellect.

When you realize
when I first came here

he couldn't even read.

Marshall, maybe if
you talk to Mr. Harker.

Mr. Decory, you haven't been
around Dodge all that long,

but most of the people
here abouts are farmers

and that's all they're
really interested in.

Don't they understand
there's more in the world

than just turnips and squash?

Marshall, isn't there
something you can do?

The best thing either of us can
do is mind our own business.

Now, when you start telling a
man how to raise his own son,

that's buttin' in...

and I don't think he's
gonna like it very well.

I mean, it's just
so frustrating.

Once in a lifetime of a teacher,
a boy like Tommy comes along.

And when he does, to
deny him an education,

it's an appalling waste.

Well, Mr. Decory, you see
back East where you come from

you have compulsory
education laws.

And we just haven't
quite got that far yet here.

Maybe it's time you did.

Good day, gentlemen.

Well... I think I know
how he feels, Matt.

Kind of like I do when I lose a
patient, you know? Somebody special.

Why in thunder is it that some
people regard an education

as a waste of time
or even a threat?

Now why's that?

I don't know, Doc.

But I'll tell you one thing,

being educated does
have some advantages.

What's that supposed to mean?

The teacher here
forgot to pay his bill.

But, I'm sure he'll thank you
for it next time he sees ya.

I'll see you later.

(door closes)

Tommy, Tommy come in.

Come on in.

Me and my ma had to
come in to do some shoppin'.

Sorry about having to
leave school, Mr. Decory.

No more than I am, son.

It's good to see you, though.

How are you getting along?

Pa's real pleased with
me working on the farm.

Hm-hm, what about you?

It's all right, but I
don't know. It's...

You miss school?

Yes, sir.


Well, maybe your father
will change his mind.

- Mr. Decory?
- Hm?

Could I borrow a book from you?

Tommy, Tommy there's
nothing in the world

I'd like more to do
than to loan you a book.

But under the circumstances,
do you think it would be wise?

Well, Pa don't have to know.

Perhaps not, but you
and I, we both know.

We know how he feels.

And right now...

But I just can't stop
reading for the rest of my life.

I'll read after my chores
or in between, anything.

But, please.

All right.

All right.

The Odyssey.

Well, you liked
The Iliad so much.

I think you'll like
this even better.

After you've read it
perhaps we can talk, huh?

Yes, sir.

Mr. Decory, thank you.


Tommy, let's just
keep this as our secret

between you and me.

I don't want you to get in any
more trouble with your father.

Yes, sir.

Well, I'd better be going.

Ma will be waitin'.

Waiting, -ing, hmm?

Ing, thanks.

So, what's happened is
they've landed on this island

where Circe lives.

And Circe's a goddess
and she can do magic.

Real magic?

Mm-hm, she turned
Ulysses' men into pigs.

- Pigs? That's terrible.
- Yeah.

(Tommy) Here, I'll read it.

"To hogs transform
them in the starry seas.

No more was seen
the human form divine.

Head, face and members
bristle into swine."

So there...

Hi, Pa.

(Oliver) What are you
two doing up so late?

We were just talking, Pa.

About what?

About nothing, just talkin'.

You get to your
own bed now, girl.

It's only a book, Pa.
No harm in readin' it.

I heard what you was readin'.

You read all night, you're
not worth a darn the next day.

But I've been workin' real good.

You said so yourself.

This book's only
part of it, son.

The fact is you disobeyed me.

Well, did you or didn't you?

Yes Pa, I did.

You don't understand now,

but I'm doing this
for your own good.

These fanciful books,
they got no meaning,

leastwise for farm folks.

These books are,
are only good to...

to turn a man into a dreamer.

But there's nothing
wrong with dreams, Pa.

There is, if they take
your mind off your work.

Now you come with me.

His chores are done,
Oliver, what harm can it do?

I'll handle this.

Please, not another whippin'.

(Oliver) It seems like
whipping's are useless.

Throw it in the fire.


Well it's not mine,
it's Mr. Decory's.

Do like I say.

No Pa, I can't.

(Oliver) Now get to bed.

There's work to
be done tomorrow.

You had no right to do that.

I would have rather
that you whipped me, Pa.

No one has the right to do that,

not no one, no one.


Let him go.

(dark music)

Tommy, people have been
burning books for one reason

or another for centuries now.

But books have
outlived them all.

So, you can only destroy the
paper the words are written on,

not the thoughts behind them.

What am I gonna do, Mr. Decory?

I don't know, Tommy.

All we can do is try to
reach him, open his eyes.

And running away
will only make it worse.

I don't care what you say!

I can't go back there.

All right, Tommy, you
can stay here tonight.

Tomorrow morning
we're going to talk it out.

Couch is yours.

Yes, sir.


What happened to your back?

That's where Pa whipped me.


The night the fox got
into the chicken coop.

He whip you like that often?

No sir, only when I
done something real bad.

Go to sleep, Tommy.

See you in the morning.

Do I still have to go home?

Yes you do, Tommy.

First thing in the morning.

There's no other way.

(Doc) Hello, Mr. Decory.

Join us here.

Thank you.

Stopped over to your
office first, Marshal.

Festus told me you were here.

Something wrong?

Last night Tommy Harker ran
away and came to my place.

Where is he now?

Reluctantly, I sent
him home this morning.

But I'd wish you'd take
a look at him, Marshall.

You too, Doc.

Boy's been whipped
by this father.

The marks are still on his back.

Mr. Decory, you're
from Massachusetts.

Don't fathers discipline
their boys there?

Perhaps, but that
doesn't make it right.

Oh, Matt, just a minute.
There are folks that, you know,

still deplore this kind of
treatment, and I'm one of them.

Now, you can punish a child,

you don't have to
beat him, you know?

Let me tell you something.

I've known Oliver Harker
a good many years.

Well I have, too.

(Matt) All right, he's
a good man, isn't he?

- Well, yes.
- Maybe he's a little old fashioned,

or maybe he's stubborn,

but that man has a
right to discipline his son

any way he wants to.

And I'm not gonna
interfere with it,

not until there's
a law that says so.

I don't buy that,
Marshall, not one iota.

That boy isn't an
ox pulling a plow

and there must be somebody
who can do something about it.

Doc, I'll tell ya something.

He's just gonna make
things worse for that boy.

Well he cares, there's
something to be said for that.

Well sure, Doc, but
I still don't believe

that a man's got a right

to come between a father
and his own boy, Doc.

Not unless that boy's being
badly abused or something.

That's not the case here.

You can abuse a mind
too, Matt, as well as a body.

Matt, for 20 years you and I

have seen eye-to-eye
on just about everything.

But on this, I'm afraid
we're gonna cross swords.

And this time, you
can pay the check.

(solemn music)

All right, what is
the name of this city?




Berlin, and it's in Germany.

Very good.

"We hold these truths to...

We hold these truths to
be self-evident that all men

are created equal.

That they are endowed
by their Creator

with certain unalienable rights.

That among these
are life, liberty,

and the pursuit of happiness."

Now in the Consti...

Stand up, boy, we're going home.

Stand up.

I'm not gonna tell you again.

You stand like you're told...
or I'll drag you to your feet.

You'd better go on home, son.

Keep out of this.

Mr. Harker, this
is my classroom.

Please wait outside, I'll
send Tommy out to you.

He's coming out with me.

Nobody's gonna
send him anywhere.

No, no, I don't wanna go.

It's not necessary to use force.

- Pa!
- Come on, Sallie.

(dramatic music)

I believe we've all learned
enough for one day.

Class dismissed.

I don't blame you for
being upset, Mr. Decory.

But as I told you before,

you're interfering between
a father and his son.

Now a schoolhouse
is community property.

A parent has a right
to go in there any time.

And strike the teacher?

If you want to file assault
charges, I'll carry them out.

But I can't guarantee you
what'll happen after that.

Well, then we'll just have
to see, won't we Marshall?

(bailiff) Everybody rise.

(banging) Order
in the court, please.

Who's representing
the defendant?

I am, Your Honor.

Mr. Decory, I understand

you've requested to
act as your own counsel.

That's right, Your Honor.

If that is your wish.

Now Mr. Harker, on
the morning of the 14th

you came to the
schoolhouse to take your son

away from the school.

Now he didn't want
to leave, did he?

No, he didn't.

In fact he resisted
you, didn't he?

That's right.

And when I tried to intervene
you hit me, didn't you?

Because you were buttin' in your
big nose where it didn't belong.

Then you admit you assaulted me.

I never denied it and I'd do
it again if I had the chance.

Thank you, no more
questions, Your Honor.

(Judge) Bruce, any
cross examination?

Mr. Harker, you said
Mr. Decory was butting in.

Would you explain that?

Well, even after I took
the boy out of school,

he still tried to keep
his hold on him.

Even came to my farm and
tried to argue with me about it.

Finally, I had to
order him off my land.

Any other occasions?

He gave the boy a book,
even knowin' I told the boy

I want no more
books in the house.

Would you say it was
Mr. Decory's influence

that caused Tommy to
return to school that day?

That's what I've been saying.

The boy even run away

and stayed at his
house all night.

Me and the missus
sick with worry.

(Mr. Bruce) So you'd say Mr. Decory
came between you and your son?

That's what I've
been saying, yes.

No more questions, Your Honor.

You're excused, Mr. Harker.

Mr. Decory, you
have another witness?

Dr. Adams, Your Honor.

Now tell me, Dr. Adams,

after the assault you were
the one who treated me.

Now what was the
extent of my injuries?

Well, you had a bruise
on your right cheek

and one on your shoulder.

What's your background, Doctor?

I mean, I know you have a
shingle outside your office

which says you're
a doctor of medicine.

What exactly gave you
the right to put that sign up?

I studied Medicine.

Your Honor, the
defense acknowledges

Dr. Adams qualifications and
that he's an excellent doctor.

Now, Your Honor, it's not
his qualifications I'm getting at.

It's how he got them and why.

Your Honor, I have a
feeling Mr. Decory intends

to make schooling and
education an issue here.

Now, I realize the prosecutor
isn't exactly a seasoned attorney.

However, I feel obliged to remind
him that this is an assault trial.

If he continues in
this line, I must object.

I'm sorry. I...

Your Honor, with
all due respect,

Mr. Harker's attack on me

was prompted by the
issue of his child's education.

Now it would seem to
me that Mr. Harker's views

on education and the assault

are very definitely
closely related.

It's a reasonable assumption.

Objection overruled.

- Continue, Mr. Decory.
- Yes, sir.

Is your father a doctor?

(Dr. Adams) No no, no.

And it was just your
decision to become one.

- Oh, yes.
- Now, Dr. Adams,

don't you feel that Tommy
Harker and every other child

deserves that same
right of decision?

Objection, Your Honor,
Mr. Decory's managed

to twist his line of
questioning again.

You've ruled that Mr. Harker's
views on education may be relevant,

I'll accept the court's
judgment on that issue.

However, a child's right to
an education is not relevant.

Mr. Decory, I'm afraid
counsel is correct.

You don't have to
answer that, Dr. Adams.

Well, I insist on
answering that.

I think every child has
a right to an education

right up to the
limit of his capacity.

- Objection, Your Honor.
- (Judge) Sustained.

Now wait a minute, don't be so
danged high and mighty, Caleb.

Listen to me.

You know as well as I do, the
real issue here is an education.

All of this other
folderol is hogwash.

(Mr. Bruce) Objection!

Dr. Adams, I must
remind you where you are.

Oh, I know where I am.

Your Honor, I'll try
to make my questions

a bit more relevant.

Please do.

Dr. Adams, Mr. Harker
attacked me because he believes

he has the right to force
his child to quit school

whenever it suits him.

Now, do you believe
Doctor, a father has that right?

That's more relevant?

Objection, Your Honor.

I believe that it's
possible for a child to work

and pursue an education
at the same time.

Your Honor, how many objections
do I have to make before I get a ruling?

Mr. Bruce, despite Dr. Adams
unnecessary and unprofessional outburst,

I believe that there is more on trial
in this courtroom than simple assault.


As I said before, Your Honor,

if education becomes
an issue in this trial,

- I take exception.
- Noted.

Proceed, Mr. Decory.

Doctor, do you believe
that it's as important

for a child to go to
school as it is for him

to work in the fields
with his father?

- Objection.
- You shut up.

- Overruled.
- Yes.

Where do you think you
would be today, Doctor,

without an education?

Well I shudder to think of it.

- Objection.
- Overruled.

- Exception.
- Noted.

Is it a fact, Doctor,
that you owe everything

in your life to the fact that
you have an education?

- Objection!
- Overruled!

- Exception!
- Noted!

(people groaning and talking)

- Order, order in this courtroom!
- (gavel banging)

(Judge) Order,
order in this court.

Order in this courtroom!

We will have order.

(man 1) Nobody's gonna
tell me how to treat my boy.

(man 2) That Decory's
got no right to interfere.

They're gonna take
over when I'm gone?

(man) Oliver should
have hit him harder.

Nobody's gonna tell
me how to raise my kids.

He's got no right. He's
only a schoolteacher.

Decory doesn't know anything
about this part of the country.

- This isn't the East, this is Kansas.
- That's right.

Folks out here
depend upon their crops

and they depend upon
their kids to help 'em.

- (man) You tell 'em Burke.
- (men agreeing)

How many kids you got, Burke?

(Burke) Now that's
got nothing to do with it.

I think it does.

Burke, you know you're
always sticking your nose

into something that
doesn't concern you.

Now, you listen to me, Doc.

Frankly Burke, I'm
tired of listening to you.

Well, I didn't get up on the
stand and defend him like you did.

Burke, I said what I said on the
stand because I was under oath.

Now, in case you don't
know what that means,

that means I had
to tell the truth.

A man don't need all that
schoolin' to be somethin'.

I didn't have much.

Shows, too.

Here, Floyd.

- Doc?
- No thanks, let's go, Festus.

Well, I just now got here.

Festus, you never
went to school, did you?


Well, you feel
the sorrier for it?

No, excepting
some once in a while,

I get to thinkin' a whole mess
of things could have been made

a whole heap simpler if I had.

Floyd, give Festus a beer on me.

Matter of fact, give him
all the beer he can drink.

Old scutter's went plumb crazy.

Mr. Decory do you have
any other witnesses?

Your Honor, I'd like to call
back Oliver Harker to the stand.

(Judge) Mr. Harker will
you take the stand please?

And may I remind you,
Mr. Harker, you are still under oath.

Why'd you hit me, Mr. Harker?

I already told ya.

You were coming
between me and my son.

You mean just in the classroom?

All along you've
been filling his head

full of fool notions that
he's something special.

(Mr. Decory) Did you
object to the books he read?

For a schoolteacher, it
sure takes you a long time

to figure things out.


(gavel banging)

We'll have no more
sarcasm, Mr. Harker.

You burned one of those
books didn't you, Mr. Harker?

That's right.

What was it called?

It doesn't matter.

Any book is harmful, then?

I didn't say that.

There are lots of good books.

The Bible, for one.

But they are bad when
that's all they've got time for.

Mr. Harker, don't you
want your son to know more

than just to work in the fields
from sun up to sundown?

And to pray to God for
rain when there is none?

Or for it to stop when
there's too much?

I always figured God
knows what he's doing.

And I've never seen a man
dying from hard work before.

And what if Tommy did
go to school all the time

like you say,
reading and learning?

What's he gonna do when
he's learned all there is to know?

Become a schoolteacher like you?

- (laughter)
- (man) Tell him, Oliver.

I am only a schoolteacher
and I don't make very much.

But I'm as proud of
my work as you are.

Well, I'm a good father

and no one can say I ain't.

And I do what I think
is best for my son.

I believe you, sir.

Mr. Harker, I understand
some years ago you had

- the best corn crop in Ford County.
- That's right.

Then the yields
began to diminish.

How was your crop last year?


- This year it's worse?
- Yes.

Plant the same
ground every year, sir?


Isn't it possible, Mr. Harker,
that the ground is worn out?

I mean, have you ever
heard of erosion, Mr. Harker?


- Have you ever heard of rotation of crops?
- No.

Mr. Harker this book, this book
is called the Farmer's Almanac.

- Have you ever read it?
- No!

Your son has. It carries
astronomical data,

weather forecasts, even
new farming techniques.

I got no time to read!

Why do you think your
son read this book?

'Cause he run out of
fairytale books, I suppose.

No, your son read this
book because he thought

it could improve
your corn crops, sir.

And I might add the
farmers who have read it

and followed it in the past
have improved their corn crop

and far surpassed
your yield, sir.

The value of
learning, Mr. Harker.

No further questions,
Your Honor.

You're excused, Mr. Harker.

Mr. Bruce.

Your Honor, I'd like to call
Henry Decory to the stand, please.

Mr. Decory.

Farmer's Almanac.

Erosion, crop rotation...

Tell me, Mr. Decory,
where did you grow up?

In Massachusetts.

On a farm, I suppose.

No, in a town.

Oh, well as a boy did
you have a garden?

- Plant your own vegetables?
- No.

Then how do you know
that what's in this book

isn't all hogwash?

Have you ever put into
practice any of the farming

techniques written in this book?

Or any other book on farming?

- No.
- No.

And I wager to say, Mr. Decory,

that you've never had an
aching back from pushing a plow

or digging a post hole,

or dirt under your
fingernails, or calluses.

Yes, Mr. Decory may
be an expert on books,

but farming?

The defense rests, Your Honor.

(applause and men agreeing)

Mr. Bruce...

Mr. Bruce, I've never farmed,

just as most of these
people in this courtroom

have never taught
in a classroom.

Each man to his own choosing.

But, in order to do that to its
utmost, you must be taught, educated.

Objection, Your Honor.

Mr. Decory happens
to be my witness

and I'm through questioning him.

Since Mr. Decory is
acting as his own counsel

I would assume that he has the
privilege of cross examining himself.


- Exception.
- Noted.

Continue, Mr. Decory.

Your Honor, one of the
first acts of our forefathers

when they first landed
on Plymouth Rock

was to pass a law demanding
compulsory education for every child.

- Objection.
- Overruled.

And then Massachusetts,
where I come from, Mr. Bruce,

Massachusetts passed
that into law in 1852.

And since that time, Michigan,
Vermont, New Hampshire,

Washington, D.C., Connecticut,
they've all passed it into law.

And maybe, Your Honor,
because of what happens today

in this courtroom,

perhaps it won't be long before"
compulsory education comes to Kansas.

- Objection!
- (men yelling)

Quiet, quiet!

We will have
order in this court!

Court is adjourned until
eight o'clock tomorrow.

(men chattering angrily)

(mellow music)


(dramatic music)

(indistinct chatter)

Everybody rise.

Quiet please, quiet.

Quiet in the court.

Where's Mr. Decory?

Judge, Your Honor.

Mr. Decory was assaulted
last night by four men

and they warned him, they
told him if he showed up here

they'd do it again.

What were the
extent of his injuries?

Cuts and bruises,
numerous cont...

(men grumbling)

(gavel banging)

- You needn't be here.
- I'll make it, Doc.

Are you all right?

I fell just fine, Your Honor.

Sorry I'm late today,

but I just had to ensure the
presence of an additional witness.

- Your Honor...
- Thank you, Doc.

The defense wants
it plainly known

that it deplores what happened
to Mr. Decory last night,

- and it condemns it.
- Well said, Mr. Bruce.

Court is now in session.

Mr. Decory, the defense
has rested its case.

You said you have
an additional witness?

Yes, sir, Tommy Harker.

(crowd murmuring)

Your Honor, we object to the
calling of the defendant's son.

The prosecution can
hardly expect a boy to testify

against his own father.

Tommy, no one is forcing
you to take the stand.

You can step down if you want.

No sir, I'll stay.

- (gavel banging)
- (Judge) Mr. Decory.

Tommy, can your
father read and write?

Yes, sir.

(Mr. Decory) Could his father?

No, sir.

So your father's
had some schooling?

Yes sir, he had some.

So he learned how
to read and write.

His own father could
neither read nor write,

but he saw to it
that his son did.

Tommy, when you first
came to me in school,

you were almost 10 years old.

You got a very
late start in school.

Could you read at that time?

Uh no, sir.

- Could you write?
- No, sir.

(Mr. Decory) Add or subtract?

No, sir.

Now, Your Honor,
with your permission

I would like you to just
call out some numbers,

two or three digits
and Doc, if you will,

will you write those
numbers down on here

and add them up as
quickly as possible.

Tommy, I want you to listen
to the judge very carefully,

and when he's through
please give us your total.

Your Honor, I'd like you to call
the numbers out rapidly, please.

All right, 24,
35... sixteen, 44,

61, 52, 77, is that enough?

Yes sir, what's
your total Tommy?

Three hundred and nine.

And you, Doc?

Just a minute.

Three hundred and nine.

(crowd murmuring)

You have all just
seen an example

of what can be
achieved by education.

Potential is limitless.

If it were not for the
great minds of this nation,

the Benjamin Franklins,
the Lincolns, the Thoreaus,

this country would
not be where it is

and we would not be
gathered here today.

All of these men were great
men because they were educated.

And despite
Mr. Harker's determination

to keep the son out of school,

he understands very
well the value of learning

because he too is a teacher.

You are all teachers.

You teach your children
how to milk cows...

and how to stack wheat,

because you realize without
that knowledge they are helpless.

Now, all of you want your
children to become farmers.

There's nothing wrong with
a boy becoming a farmer.

Farming is an ancient
and honorable trade.

But must a farmer
be only a farmer

because he knows nothing else?

George Washington was a farmer.

Thomas Jefferson was a farmer.

Many of our greatest leaders,
they all grew up on farms

just like your children.

Now the difference
between our teachings

is that I teach from a book
because I learned from books.

Because the sum total
of all human knowledge

is passed down in books.

I told Tommy Harker
that burning a book

can't stop a child's
hunger for knowledge.

But a child's parent can.

He can stifle it or kill it...

just as you can kill a plant
if you deny it light and rain.

You take your
children out of school,

you tell them long enough
and hard enough that teaching

and schooling is unnecessary

the ultimate tragedy, then, is that
they will come to accept that as fact.

And once they do,

once they believe that
schooling is a waste,

from that very moment on

the luster of these
bright, agile, young minds

will be tarnished forever.

And we will be
the poorer for it,

because by robbing our
children, we also rob ourselves

and all our future generations

of the priceless
gift of knowledge.

I'm through, Your Honor.

(clearing throat)

Well, Mr. Decory
is quite a speaker.

It's plain his education
was thorough.

But that doesn't
necessarily make him right.

But, you are not here
to decide this issue.

I feel obliged to
remind the jury

that you sit here in judgment

not on a child's
right to an education,

but on assault... assault.

And you are here to
decide... whether or not

Mr. Oliver Harker is guilty
and should be punished

for striking a man who came
knowingly and deliberately

between him and his son.

And that, not education...

is the subject of this trial.

And I hope and trust that
every member of this jury

will agree that a father's
right to protect his child

is the most sacred
right every parent has.

(mellow music)

(Dr. Adams) You didn't
expect to win that case, did ya?

Not at first.

But as we got deeper
and deeper into the trial

I hoped that...

No, I guess not.

You didn't want Oliver
Harker to go to jail, did you?

No, no I didn't.

But that wasn't what
was on trial, Doc.

Henry, are you familiar
with the old saying,

"He who fights
and runs away..."?

I am. You didn't finish it.

"He who fights and runs away
may turn to fight another day."

"He that's in the battle slain
will never rise to fight again."

Well, maybe I'm
tired of the battle.

Henry, I'm afraid you
may have lost something

besides just blood.

Now look, Doc, I
thought a town like Dodge

would welcome education.

I thought that all men
wanted better for their sons.

There wasn't a word that I said

that made any difference
to these people, nothing!

Standing still, that's all
they want for themselves.

That's all they're going
to pass onto their children.

- They might as well hibernate.
- Henry...

Doc, I tried to keep one child,

just one child with extraordinary
ability in school and I failed!

What about the other children?

How am I going to help them now?

You made a point today.

Yes, I made a point.

I got everybody in this
whole town against me.

You reached a
couple people today.

Tomorrow maybe a couple more.

Henry, it takes time.

I started teaching
when I was 23, Doc.

I'm 43 now.

I don't have much time to wait,

at least not here.

Henry, let me tell you
something about time.

A few years ago
this was a wilderness.

Somebody came
along and built a cabin.

Others came and
Dodge became a town.

Cost a lot of
blood, but it's here.

There was no medicine
here before I came.

There was no law
until Matt Dillon came.

And no education, not the kind
we're talking about until right now.

And in that regard,
it's still a wilderness.

Any time anybody comes into
town and wants to change anything

they've always been met by
ignorance, suspicion, even violence.

Henry, all you can do is
plant a seed and hope it grows.

Henry, if you stay,

that boy and a lot of
others have a chance.

Now, if you leave, they don't.

I'm not sure I care
anymore, Doc.

You don't?

(gentle music)

(upbeat music)

(announcer) Stay
tuned for exciting scenes

from our next Gunsmoke.

(upbeat music)