[J]ust how effective is it to insult someone in an alien cultural idiom? Bush, naturally enough, looked bewildered, but he ducked speedily and seemed none the worse for wear afterwards. Gordon Brown, I suspect, would have stolidly absorbed the blows; Obama would probably have caught one shoe in each hand before throwing them across the room for three points into a waiting waste-paper basket. But none of them, surely, would actually have been offended.
–Tom Chatfield at Prospect magazine’s blog
[Reporter, Muntadar al-Zaidi’s action was a] victory for human rights
–Aicha, daughter of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, while declaring that her charity would honour the reporter with a medal of courage
As someone with an Iraqi parent who has had shoes thrown at him, I can tell you there’s a lot of venom in it; it is not a mild gesture.
Apropos Gaddafi quotes, in an interview a few months ago,
Gaddafi Sr. came across as though he was answering The Philosopher (as he was known in medieval times). “First, then, there must of necessity be a conjunction of persons who cannot exist without one another.” (Aristotle, The Politics, Book 1, 1252a). Now, there are all sorts of persons who can exist quite well without one another, and maybe Aristotle was wrong in his understanding of who can’t (his conception wasn’t romantic like you might think, you romantics.) But I don’t know whether before Gaddafi, anyone raised an objection about these two particular classes of people:
Gaddafi : “Is it conceivable for a union to be formed between somebody naked and somebody who considers this to be crazy?”
That’s a question for scholars, not for dilettanti, but here’s my humble stab at it: everything–EVERYTHING–depends on who it is that’s naked.
If someone’s chucking shoes at my head, I’m going to be offended however culturally ignorant I am…
Say what you will about Saddam Hussein, _no one_ would have thrown shoes at _him._ (What’s that you say? That that would have had more to do with fear of repercussions than with there being nothing to complain about? Don’t nitpick!)
I haven’t been following this all that closely, but am I right in thinking that in Arab culture it’s traditional to have really crappy shoes that you can throw at someone in a fit of pique without then enduring days of regret thinking, “Oh, but those lovely shoes, I can’t believe I just threw them at that guy, oh my god, it took so long to find a pair like that.”
In the “you’d-have-to-have-a-heart-of-stone-not-to-be-moved” department: