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Shoe, Bush, Shoe

I have to admit, I chuckled when I saw that an Iraqi reporter had chucked his shoes, one at a time, at Bush. It was an insult, yes, but a largely nonviolent one. What did the Iraqi government do? Beat him up and arrest him.

Now, on one hand, he violated hospitality - that of Iraq and its President Maliki toward Bush. So that deserves a punishment.

On the other hand, it is a political statement, and a matter of free speech. Which deserves praise, especially since it is a protest that didn't kill and maim anyone, but got the point across strongly.

Apparently, Iraq law says he can be imprisoned for up to 7 years, and fined for the insult. Fined, yes, I'd go for that - like a fine for littering, public nuisance, or disruptive behavior. But imprisoned? No. It's a political matter, not a criminal one.

Burning in effigy, protesting, political cartoons, or thrown shoes - they are all political free speech.

The middle eastern insult of stepping on or wagging shoes at someone as an insult is delightfully nuanced - not crude, but very plain in its symbolism.

Once, when I left a particularly odious job many years ago, I stopped at the curb just off their property line, took off my shoes, and banged them together to knock the dust from them. It loaded so much symbolism in such a simple but deliberate act, I felt like I had shaken the dust of that place from my soul.

I can understand Mr. al-Zaidi's contempt for President Bush, and I'm glad he chose to express it with shoes instead of explosives. It means more, hurts less, and is a sign of progress.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 16th, 2008 08:40 pm (UTC)
What I love? Thousands of ordinary Iraqi citizens did the same thing to the toppled statue of Saddam Hussein.

Yep -- our outgoing president gets the same respect as a fallen effigy of a brutal oppressor who showed no mercy toward his own citizens, often throwing them in jail for years without trial... oh, wait.
Dec. 16th, 2008 09:20 pm (UTC)
Man, I wish I had had my wits with me when I was fired from my last job. They treated me like crap at that office, well my actual bosses, not the people I worked with and for, but I was so angry at the fact that they were able to get rid of me before I was able to find a new position...

I wonder if it would count if I went back and did it now?
Dec. 16th, 2008 10:57 pm (UTC)
Go for it!
Dec. 16th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
If it had been me in Bush's shoes, I'd have probably caught the shoe and thrown it back out of sheer reflex... goddess alone knows what that would be a symbol of! [other that I regularly get stuff thrown at me for bad puns!]

But they sure are sending the wrong message by beating the guy up and banging him in jail for years... I though the name of the game was enduring freedom, not swap one tyrant for another.
Dec. 16th, 2008 11:44 pm (UTC)
When I punch you in the face because I dislike your queer loven, interracial, non-christian ways and policies... It's not free speech.

It's Assault.

Dec. 17th, 2008 12:47 am (UTC)
Where's the pepper?
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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