Fed Up With Celebrity Coverage, City Lowers Flags In Protest

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A city manager on Long Island has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff indefinitely to honor soldiers who died in Iraq, and to make a statement against what he views as an exaggerated cultural focus on celebrities’ antics.

“I’d sit with my wife, Carolyn, at night and watch this parade of Anna Nicole Smith and others — then ‘five dead in Iraq’ — and then back to Britney,” Edwin Eaton told Newsday newspaper, adding “I had to put this in perspective.”

Eaton, manager of the city of Long Beach, issued the order Thursday. It calls for the city’s American flags to be flown at half-staff until further notice.

“While our society and media outlets appear to be consumed by the antics and activities of dysfunctional personalities and the ‘glitterati,’ we tend to forget that each day Americans are anonymously dying in Iraq,” he said in a memo to city department heads. “I think it only fair that they be remembered and honored.”

Traditionally, the American flag is flown at half-staff to recognize the death of a prominent person or on designated days of mourning, such as Memorial Day. But Eaton said he felt he “had to do something” about what he saw as disproportionate media attention given to celebrities in time of war.

Eaton said he consulted informally with City Council members before issuing the order, which he said was allowed under a city charter provision giving the city manager power in “all things executive and administrative.”

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