Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Bill Wooton, D-Raleigh, publicly apologized on the Senate floor Tuesday for introducing Senate Bill 189. And well he should.
The measure was an attempt to authorize license plates recognizing descendants of Confederate veterans.
Now what kind of message would that send to the majority of fair-minded West Virginians who view the Confederate flag as a symbol of oppression, slavery and a way of life that people in western Virginia never shared in prior to the Civil War, namely a plantation-style existence.
Senate Transportation Chairman Mike Ross, D-Randolph, said he's feeling a lot of pressure to have his committee take action on the bill. Well, we urge Ross and his committee to simply ignore the pressure.
People are free to buy plates bearing the Confederate flag in stores and they have the right to put them on their vehicles. However, when the state feels obligated to step in and authorize the production of Confederate license plates, that's taking things too far.
Wooton said the bill was introduced "by request," which means that a sponsor has no interest in pursuing the bill but was entered as a favor to a constituent. He said he thought that fact would insulate him from criticism, but said he was mistaken.
Obviously, Wooton didn't think about the ramifications of his action on the Senate floor. But, we think people are "only human" and make mistakes on occasion. This was one of Wooton's gaffes and it will be forgotten eventually.
We just hope people realize the Civil War is over. Also, those who identify with the Confederacy have to remember West Virginia was pro-Union during that tragic period and the state's birth was a direct result of her refusal to follow Virginia's lead into a doomed association with the Confederate States of America.
Our representatives in Charleston have more important business to conduct than recognizing descendants of Confederate veterans with a license plate that is sure to inflame passions and prejudices.