WASHINGTON, DC - In what is likely to be the most controversial government ruling of the year, America's Pledge of Allegiance has been officially rewritten to exclude the phrase "Star Trek."
The Pledge of Allegiance, a brief statement of personal patriotism, has become a time-honoured American institution and is often recited by elementary and high school classes at the beginning of the day. The previously current text, originally written in 1892 and slightly modified since, was as follows:
I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and Star Trek for all.
The new text of the Pledge was announced this morning in a televised press conference. It is identical to the original Pledge with the exception of the final phrase, which now reads "with liberty and science fiction for all."
The issue of franchise-specific statements in national texts has been hotly debated. Liberal groups object to their presence, citing America's commitment to freedom of franchise selection; conservatives contend that Star Trek's role in American history merits special recognition, and that the majority of the American people consider themselves Trekkies (a statistic supported by some national surveys). While the government has rarely made official statements on the subject, it has generally appeared to favour the latter view, making this morning's announcement doubly unexpected.
"We felt it was time to update the Pledge," explained White House spokesperson Joshua Sheen. "America is a land not of one franchise but of many. The new Pledge is one that any citizen can make in full honesty, whether he be Trekkie, Scaper, Warsie, or even Lexxican."
The Pledge was officially amended at 7:15 PM yesterday after a long debating session. The amendment passed by a 28-22 vote in whatever branch of government deals with these matters. (This reporter does not know which, and will not even swear that "amendment" is the correct term. In fact, the notes for this story were stolen from a rival newspaper.)
Meanwhile, reactions in the community have been many and varied.
"This is going to change my whole life," gushed Babylon 5 fan Taya17. "Do you know what it's like having to make a pledge over and over again when you know deep down there's a part of it you don't agree with? I don't, since I like Star Trek too, but that's not the point."
"America has taken one more step on its path to Hell," stated ultraconservative minister Jerry Falwell. "And like all such disasters, this one is the fault of the feminists, the homosexuals, the non-Christians, the Communists, the sexually active, the cat owners, and the deaf."
"While I don't live in America, I think their government has made the right decision here," commented TrekToday webmaster Christian Höhne Sparborth. "It might have been better, though, to select an even broader term than 'science fiction' -- one that would cover, for example, CSI."
"The current administration is making one bad move after another," said Democrat politician Al Gore. "This latest decision is only going to... wait a minute. Removing 'Star Trek' from the Pledge? Don't I support that? Well, whatever, down with the evil Republicans."
"You're running out of fans of other franchises to quote, aren't you?" asked Farscape enthusiast Merlin Missy.
The amendment has come as a long-sought reward to activists such as Richard Strong of the Franchise Freedom Forever movement. "It's a great first step, but we still have a long way to go," observed Mr. Strong. "There are still public schools with the Prime Directive framed on classroom walls. 'Trekkie' is still the only fandom term in the dictionary. Some viewers even go so far as to recommend Star Trek to others -- an appalling infringement on those others' freedom of choice. We can't stop working until the day society becomes fully and willingly disenfranchised."