#039;Freedom fries#039; fly in the face of freedom

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 11, 2003

You drive up to the talk box at a fast food joint and the same question resonates through the garbled scratches and squelches, "Would you like fries with that?"

You simply reply, "Yes, but only if their 'freedom fries' and not those nasty french fries!"

What, you may ask, am I talking about. Well, the members of the House of Representatives in Washington have decided to show their displeasure with the French by renaming the daily staple of so many to "freedom fries."

And yes, they've renamed french toast, "freedom toast."

The changes aren't just in name, they're official.

The name changes in all House Office Buildings was so ordered by Bob Ney (R-Ohio), and Walter Jones (R-N.C.). The duo made the changes in the Longworth Office Building's food court.

Ney, chairman of the House Administration Committee is just the man with the power to rename food. As overseer of House operations, he ordered the menu changes.

An action like that - well, it's just plain silly.

Don't our lawmakers have anything better to do with their time than worry about the name of the foods we eat?

We elect them to go to Washington and work on serious issues, not food names.

What's next, will french kissing become "freedom kissing?"

Then again, maybe that's not such a bad idea

remember the scene in Grease 2?

According to the Associated Press, the French Embassy in Washington simply replied to the House action with "french fries come from Belgium."

On a more serious note, Republican Jim Saxton of New Jersey suggested the Pentagon not participate in the Paris Air Show, but House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas shot down that idea, saying the French have pretty much isolated themselves.

People, that's not the way to express our displeasure at someone - by attacking their name or character. We're a nation that's better than that.

We live in a nation that holds in regard the God-given right to express an opinion, or at least, that's what the First Amendment says.

Sure, Ney's and Jones' actions were probably well-intentioned and good natured, but that's not their job. If they were truly upset with the French government, then picking on a food is not the right way. And the same can be said for Saxton.

Rep. DeLay was right to avoid a Pentagon ban at the air show - he apparently understands the seriousness of our current situation, and the importance of good diplomacy. Even during the Cold War, the Soviet Union allowed its aircraft to be displayed at U.S. and other Western air shows.

If the representatives wanted to rename french fries to freedom fries, that's their prerogative, but it's not something that needs to be sent through the House in an official capacity - it's not what they were elected to do.

The only sad thing is, this french fry action will probably catch on with every media outlet in the country, and quite a few around the world, and will only make our Congress look more like an episode of The Muppet Show than a serious legislative body.