Maybe we should learn to throw shoes.

Throwing a pie in the face of various famous people is considered funny, doing it to politicians- minor, spitting at someone is the closest we come to showing disrespect. Words have lost their poignancy- with calling someone a “Mother sucker” (in clean terms) no longer having effect.
No, in America, we settle scores by shooting, fighting, knifing, leading us to having a ridiculously high incarceration rate- in the “home of the brave, land of the free.”

No, in the grand scheme of things- Muntadar al-Zaidi spoke to the world- not by blowing up the World Trade centers- or himself- but by throwing his shoes.

In the middle of the news conference with Mr Maliki, Iraqi television journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi stood up and shouted “this is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog,” before hurling a shoe at Mr Bush which narrowly missed him.

Showing the soles of shoes to someone is a sign of contempt in Arab culture.

Muntadar al-Zaidi throws a shoe at George Bush (14 December 2008)

Muntadar al-Zaidi was quickly wrestled to the ground and hauled away

With his second shoe, which the president also managed to dodge, Mr Zaidi said: “This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq.”

Mr Zaidi, a correspondent for Cairo-based al-Baghdadiya TV, was then wrestled to the ground by security personnel and hauled away.

via BBC NEWS | Middle East | Shoes thrown at Bush on Iraq trip.

Symbolic speech without great harm. Much like wearing a mask to a city commission meeting, however this one was better understood.

He’s now facing several years in prison for his action. I’m wondering what we’ve accomplished in Iraq. Would the effect have been the same if he just screamed that Bush was a dog who was responsible for an invasion and occupation that has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis?

While we can’t have people attacking foreign heads of state at will- I think I’d rather have shoes being thrown than bullets. If someone threw their shoes at me- would it end up in court? I doubt it. At some point, we have to realize, that heads of state aren’t gods- and the punishment shouldn’t be any longer than it would be if it happened to you or me.

In the meantime- the longer the sentence, the worse the damage to public perception, and the more power earned by the shoe thrower.

The hurling of a pair of shoes at George Bush by an Iraqi journalist has revealed the full extent of the US president’s unpopularity in the Middle East’s media, with newspapers across the region taking delight in his discomfort.

Most commentators see it as beyond doubt that the treatment meted out to Mr Bush by Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi is a just response to the president’s policies in Iraq, although one chides the shoe-thrower for expressing his protest through violence rather than “tough questions”.

via BBC NEWS | Middle East | Mid East press glee at shoe throw.

If Bush is looking to give a pardon before he leaves- he should consider Muntadar at the top of his list. Wasn’t a “Free Iraq” the reason we invaded? And what kind of freedom is there if symbolic speech is punished by years in prison?

In the world of instant communication- these are images that will long be remembered- and it reinforces the power of symbolic gestures. Here is the video:


Now, if we could only have the punks in Dayton trade their shooting for tossing shoes.

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