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June 24, 2005




PAUL GIGOT: Winner and losers, picks and pans. Tony or Tacky, our way of calling attention to the best and the worst of the week. There are few things that enrage most of us so much as seeing the American flag burned in protest, and this week the Congress was considering whether to do something about it. Jason, tony or tacky?

JASON RILEY: Well, burning the American flag is obnoxious and I think wrong. But whether everything that's obnoxious or wrong should be declared illegal, let alone unconstitutional, is another matter entirely. So I think this is something of a Tacky on the part of Congress, especially since you would think they have other, more important things to get done, such as Social Security, such as tax reform, such as immigration reform. And the Supreme Court has ruled on this that flag burning is protected speech. I happen to agree with that ruling. Look at it this way, where do you stop once you start protecting symbols like the flag? Should we pass a constitutional amendment to prevent the waving of the Confederate flag? That offends a lot of people as well. So, I think Congress has enough important issues to put its mind, concentrate its mind on, and this is not something that should be a priority.

PAUL GIGOT: I think we could separate the American flag from the Confederate flag. This was a Supreme Court decision that was five to four. It was very close. And I think this is -- I agree with you, it's not the most important issue in the country right now. But I think this is about Congress in part trying to say to the Supreme Court, you know, this is a brush-back pitch. We're tired of you overturning a lot of our laws so often. We're going to stand up a little bit for you on that. So I have some sympathy for what Congress is doing, although I don't think it's going to pass. Thanks, Jason.

Senator Dick Durbin managed to make everyone angry this week with his opinions on the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, and then with his so-called apology. Dan, usually an apology is worth a Tony. Is this one?

DAN HENNINGER: Well, Senator Durbin started out with a Tacky, and then he doubled his bet with his apology. You know, this is the guy who said that Guantanamo reminded him of the Nazis, the Soviet Gulag, Pol Pot and other unnamed atrocities. Now let me say something up front. I don't like the speech police, and I don't like what the speech police try to do to people today. They try to run them out of their jobs. With Larry Summers at Harvard, the people who tried to get him to resign are the real Nazis in American life.

But let's look at Senator Durbin's apology. I'll quote it for a minute. He says, "I'm sorry if anything that I said caused any offense." He said, "I'm also sorry if anything I said in any way cast a negative light, and some may believe that my remarks..." There must be something these politicians get injected with when they come to Washington that makes it impossible for them to simply say, "I made a mistake. I was over the line. I apologize." And try to be a stand-up guy. Senator Durbin didn't issue a real apology and he deserves it if this remark dogs him through the rest of his political life.

PAUL GIGOT: Okay, Dan. And finally, Steve Moore wants to call attention to the 25th Anniversary of PacMan, the video game that started it all and first demonstrated the addictive powers of this kind of thing. Steve?

STEVEN MOORE: This is my favorite story of the week. Happy Birthday, PacMan. Twenty-five years ago we became Nintendo Nation, and since then -- now, I have two teenage boys who are completely addicted to these video games. It's GameBoy and GameBox and Xbox and all of these things that have become addictive, not just for boys now but for girls as well.

The last point I'll make about this is that we've come a long way culturally from wonderful PacMan -- we all put those quarters in those video machines -- to today, if you look at the games that are being sold they're things like Cop Killer and Grand Theft Auto. Big difference between those two types of games. I think our culture needs to step back and maybe say some of these video games have gone too far.

PAUL GIGOT: Yeah, I'm not sure that's an advance, culturally, Grand Theft Auto for 12-year-olds. All right, thanks. Well, or maybe even seven-year-olds, whatever it is. Thanks, Steve. That's it for this edition of THE JOURNAL EDITORIAL REPORT. Thank you from all of us. We'll be back next week and we hope you'll join us then.