July 12-19, 2006

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Nūz: Santa Cruz County News Briefs

Slow Burn

Nüz too has burned a flag. Not a big one, mind you, and not recently either. It was, in fact, 10 years ago this month, after 20th Century Fox sent out tiny flags marketing Independence Day, their big-budget Fourth of July release in which foolish aliens take on Randy Quaid.

It was a puny thing, this promotional flag, not big enough to drape over GI Joe's coffin. Nor did it burn so much as smolder and melt, sending up trails of black smoke and noxious fumes that some enterprising lawyer could surely have turned into a class action suit on behalf of toxically wronged flag burners.

Like gay rights (and, more recently, frivolous lawsuits), flag burning is one of those perennial hot button "problems" that particularly excites right-wing crusaders in need of divisive election year issues. So when a handful of folks gathered at Seabright State beach on Independence Day eve to celebrate their right to burn a flag, it's no surprise that the Sentinel was moved to rattle its mighty saber. Under the headline, Flag Burning Abomination, its editorial insisted that flag burners are "desecrating the memory of millions of good and decent people who built and protected this country."

Couldn't the Sentinel have gotten upset about something that actually matters like, say, the CIA's July 4 admission that they've closed the unit devoted to capturing Osama Bin Laden?

How ironic that the same forces who'd take away your right to burn a flag today will take away your right to wave it tomorrow.

As one of Nüz's patron saints, the late Bill Hicks, was fond of pointing out, a flag is, in fact, a piece of cloth (or, as Nüz discovered, some toxic approximation thereof).

"No one--and I repeat, no one--has ever died for a flag," said Hicks. "They may have died for freedom, which also, by the way, is the freedom to burn the flag."

These days, the sad truth is that they're most likely to be dying for the freedom to burn oil.

Nūz just loves juicy tips about Santa Cruz County politics.

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