Flag debate doesn’t belong in voting booth

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. The lesson was brought home — again — Monday after a Hinds County judge decided the controversy over the state can be decided in the voting booth.

Circuit Court Judge Swan Yerger ruled that a proposed initiative to retain the current design of the flag can be placed on a statewide ballot in 2002.

The judge’s decision may be the legally correct thing to do, but it will not solve the decades’ old squabble about the state flag which contains a portion of the Confederate battle flag into the design.

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If supporters of the initiative can obtain signatures of 90,000 registered voters the issue will be placed on the ballot.

And if that happens, the divisiveness will certainly begin in earnest.

If the issue goes to a vote, who wins? We, like many others, fear the type of state-splitting fight that has gripped other Southern states such as South Carolina.

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove thought he was heading off the fight before it had begun earlier this year when he appointed a commission to review the flag issue and offer solutions that would appease both sides.

Little did Musgrove realize that some folks will stop at nothing to make certain that their voices are heard — even if that voice isn’t what’s best for the state’s welfare.

We believe the silent majority in Mississippi — consisting of both blacks and whites — are tired of hearing all of the fuss.

Most folks simply don’t feel strongly one way or another about the flag to get involved or speak out on the issue.

And that’s a shame.

Because of this apathy — this fear to stand up and say &uot;let’s not force the issue&uot; — we fear our state may be dragged into the mud by people on both extremes of the issue.