I'm still stunned by the news from the Lincoln Library and Museum.

If I want to make a computer-driven hologram of Charlie Chaplin, one that will scratch its head and give "scholar approved" answers to schoolkids' questions, I will be stopped by his estate. The characters created by Chaplin, W.C. Fields and many others are protected from such tampering by their estates.

Lincoln's memory is protected by no one. It can be desecrated by any fool with something to sell; it can be trampled under any tourism-generating scheme; and Lincoln scholars (over 100 according to yesterday's story) have lined up to help make his memory a doormat for tasteless, ignorant and idly curious vistors to Springfield Illinois.

The great enabler in projects like this is that "history" is supposed to be such a powerful good that anything goes in trying to expose the public to that good. In fact, this kind of "historical experience" (read entertainment) is an end in itself, a dead end. People don't go from conversing with a Lincoln hologram to reading Jaffa or Burlingame. They've done their history. They've "experienced it." They are in the market for sensation, not for study.

A great role or mission for any public-minded sort of Lincoln library and museum in the future would be to maintain a staff of lawyers to bring actions against organizations like The Lincoln Library and Museum and Dr. Richard Norton Smith. One can dream, at least.