Arab shoe-tossing isn't a gesture of friendly affection

On the heels (gettit?) of the now-notorious incident in which an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at some guy named George Bush, the world press has rushed to tell us that throwing shoes is a really bad thing in the Arab world. Not like here in the west, where it's a gesture of affection.

“In Arab cultures, throwing shoes is a grave show of disrespect.” –Bloomberg.com

“The act is an Arab symbol of contempt.” –Christian Science Monitor

“Throwing shoes at somebody is a supreme insult in the Middle East.” –Reuters

“In Iraqi culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt.” –Associated Press

Those Mysterious Easterners, So Different From You and Me

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  1. Not like here in the west, where it’s a gesture of affection.

    Really? I’m pretty sure he was saying, “Thank you for visiting our country and building such a large embassy! Here, take my shoes as a gift so you don’t hurt your feet as you walk through the rubble on your way out.”

  2. Witnesses report that, after the second shoe, Bush leaned in close to Al-Maliki and asked, “How many more of those d’you think he’s got?”

  3. I’m definitely not a big fan of W’s, but our president has impressive shoe dodging skills. He moved like a puma.

  4. hokay, I splain to yu Merikans: Iz like doing de dirty, dirty thing? ya?

    This does raise a question: what is profane in America? Swishing someone’s toothbrush in the toilet and putting it back?

  5. I take issue with the assertion that there’s something xenophobic about the press commenting on the meaning of shoe-throwing in other cultures. Granted, they may not explain it deftly…but still….

    If an American threw a shoe at Bush in the US, it would obviously be seen as impolite — and probably a bit strange. But it doesn’t carry the same obvious depth of cultural meaning with it as it does in this context. I think news organizations are right to point out that shoe-throwing has some additional history and meaning in this part of the world.

  6. If he really did say “All I can report is that it’s a size 10”, I gotta respect the wit in that situation.

  7. I can imagine a Frank Caliendo impression about Bush having the reflexes of a Cat, ending in:

    “Meow, meow, gobble, gobble.”

  8. Well, that’s about how I feel about the last 8 years myself. The abrogation of the ABM treaty, renunciation of no-first-strike, destruction of the middle class, state sanctioned torture, instituting a war of agression (badly), trampling on the constitution, dead bodies littering the streets of New Orleans, war profiteering, antagonizing the Russians, driving the economy into the ground, and overall gross imcompetance. (Did I miss anything?) Thank god it’ll soon be over.

    I wonder what they’ll do to that guy: summary execution or a medal?

  9. I agree with #14. For example, crossing your legs and revealing the sole of your shoe is also grievously offensive. For people not exposed to that knowledge at all, throwing a shoe is no different than throwing a rotten tomato or pulling somebody away from their podium with a giant shepherd’s hook.

  10. “I wonder what they’ll do to that guy: summary execution or a medal?”

    Either way, there’s a book deal in it for him.

  11. Sorry Cory, I have to agree with Blwant – yes, it’s obviously not a complimentary gesture, but the point is that shoe throwing has a specific meaning in the cultures of the region. It’s apparently a recognised way to express contempt, rather than to cause injury. So it’s analogous to throwing eggs or tomatoes, only rather higher (or lower) on the contempt scale. The news organisations reporting this, however vapidly, are trying to make the point that this is not bizarre, random behaviour, as it might otherwise appear to an American or western European audience. It’s still funny though.

  12. I don’t know about everyone else, but what I’m most shocked at is the lack of protection from the Secret Service he got. Shouldn’t one of the agents jumped into the path of the second shoe, in slow motion, taking the sweaty, leathery hit himself?

  13. Thank you for posting this. I read those so called ‘cultural notes’ all day. Couldn’t believe they were meant to be taken seriously!

  14. “Don’t tread on me” seems ironically appropriate.

    If that’s the worst W has to face in his final years then he should count himself lucky.

  15. > If he really did say “All I can report is that it’s a size 10”, I gotta respect the wit in that situation.

    But it shows he’s still clueless about other cultures.

  16. @31 As was pretty much everyone else about this specific insult. I think a fair number of people know about the left hand taboo, but who honestly knew that the shoe thing carried the extra cultural weight before this incident?

  17. “but who honestly knew that the shoe thing carried the extra cultural weight before this incident?”

    anyone who spent ten minutes studying the customs and mores of the entire middle east?

  18. and anyone who remember’s the news coverage of Saddam’s statue being toppled – people were queuing up to hit it with their shoes…

  19. Takuan, are you saying that were I to spend ten minutes studying the customs and mores of the ENTIRE middle east, I’d have covered shoe tossing? Are the customs and mores of the ENTIRE middle east so few, that this wouold just percolate to the top? I beg to differ.

    I wonder if all future journalists will be allowed to wear shoes to future presidential press conferences, or will only those from arabic nations (where EVERYONE KNOWS that shoe tossing is a deep moral indictment, far beyond the surface “tossing stuff at folks I don’t like” meaning)? Or would that just be racial profiling, taking us back to the prospect of “no one can wear shoes in the presence of the President”?

    13Tales, you cracked me up – I loved the Austin Powers reference ;^)

  20. @32
    Doncha member? A statue got pulled down and beaten with shoes? It was all plained then. Ohh sorry, yeah that was over 2 weeks ago.

  21. Reuters said:

    “Throwing shoes at somebody is a supreme insult in the Middle East.”

    Uhm, supreme insult? Sometimes they throw rocks, with much more serious implications for the target.

  22. I just don’t understand what the issue is.

    Shoe-throwing has more cultural significance in Iraq than it does here. Knowing that is going to affect how people interpret his actions–was it a (somewhat wussy) assault with the nearest available object, or was it a statement? It doesn’t mean the same thing that it would in the West, so it’s a good idea to explain to your readers, if your goal is actually to inform.

    Are people objecting because of the way it’s being explained, or because it’s being explained at all? Because I get the former, but not so much the latter.

  23. You mean when Liza Minelli was throwing shoes at David Guest they weren’t in love?

    Unpossible!

    #35 POSTED BY KUTSUWAMUSHI

    Shoe-throwing has more cultural significance in Iraq than it does here.

    Yes and no. But I think applying deeper logic to this is just another form of fostering a “magical foreign person” philosophy.

    I’ll let you in on a secret: Throwing anything at anyone is a sign of disrespect.

    I mean, imagine someone in the mideast going into an elaborate discussion about how insulting it is to have a phone thrown at you on Wall Street? And let me let you in on a secret: A lot of phones get thrown around in Wall Street offices.

  24. Look at the reflexes and reaction time – dodging not one but two shoes!

    Who’s that spritely athlete? Get me his address. The World Shoe Dodging Championship is three weeks away, but this kid can make any team.

  25. This soleful gesture will doubtless be repeated every time Dubya makes a public appearance, and what a fitting footnote to the career of this heel.

  26. The best part of this is the bemused fixed grin on Dubya’s face when he pops back up to see what’s coming next. “Hey, now, fella, you know you just threw a shoe at me! Whatever next? Oh hey! It’s another shoe!” He looks like the monkey in that annoying “punch the monkey” banner ad from a few years ago.

  27. Let me rephrase: what is “unclean” in America? Apart from Cheney’s soul of course.

    Ha! Nice try. It is a trick question. Cheney has no soul.

    That aside, I see nothing wrong with explaining that there is more to throwing a shoe than simply throwing a shoe. It is like any custom based gesture. Obviously, it means something not nice. The degree that it is not nice is what needs to be explained. The point of mentioning that in the Arab world it is an extreme sign of disrespect is to show that it carries more weight than just tossing any random object at el presidente.

    The explanation is even more important in written pieces. In the video it is pretty clear that that guy is pissed, but in a written piece it might not be so clear. I mean hell, I could toss a pair of shoes at the president for shits and giggles without my pulse raising (well, except the the sniper lasers that would appear on my forehead… those might raise my pulse). It could mean in it in the same way someone might yell “you suck!”. I think you suck, but my heart isn’t really into it.

    For all of us snooty, culturally aware, well educated assholes, it might seem obvious that there is extra meaning attached. To someone who doesn’t collect strange facts about Middle Eastern signs of disrespect, the level of “fuck youidness” might be lost. I think that the news media is basically brain dead, but in this particular instance I don’t blame them for spelling it out for the dumb masses.

  28. maybe they just needed to explain it better, but can’t do so *politely*?

    US: throwing shoe = throwing cell phone = throwing book = throwing “whatever generally harmless inanimate object”

    Iraq: throwing shoe = throwing a handful of shit, rotten eggs, a used tampon, etc.

    got the difference?

  29. If you want to insult a person you do something that means something in their culture, not yours.

    It just goes to show how naive shoe boy was, next time try poo.

  30. Obviously throwing shoes is never how you want to greet a friend, but the significance is dramatically different in Iraq. Are we shocked that the most press sources still suck?

    #36: Many Muslims avoid showing the soles of their feet as a matter of respect. The bottoms of feet, shoes and relevant filth have a much greater significance to many Muslims. It’s not an exoticization of Muslims to point out this cultural fact.

  31. Rindan @ 41 “I don’t blame them for spelling it out for the dumb masses”… there’s also a lot of shiny new young people coming up behind us for whom this might be the first they’ve heard of it. Ignorance does not always imply dumbness.

  32. He’s gonna get so many different things thrown at him in the coming years…I’m looking forward to the pies, myself.

  33. @Takuan- there isn’t a comparable way of really conveying the level of contempt expressed by the shoe chucking journalist in any “American” sense, unless he came there with a bag of horse dung to use instead. Really, though, in America when you have the level of power that he does, he is kind of immune to insults, and doesn’t even care about them. His joking about the shoes was just clarifying that for the American audience.

    For everyone else, though- was it me, or did you notice a REALLY slow response by the Secret Service agents on the scene? I mean, the guy got two good throws in before anybody really stepped up. I figure the Secret Service probably must hate him more than any other group right now, and are just wanting to see him gone as much as anybody.

  34. First thing – George has nice reaction time. Second thing – His bodyguards are lousy. I would expect this guy to be shot after he threw first shoe. He could be throwing anything – grenade, molotov, a knife… yes, there is some screening, but we know how good it can be.

  35. Obviously throwing an object at someone is a sign of disrespect. But they weren’t things, they were shoes. And if you asked an Iraqi, “why shoes?” you’d find that that’s a question that has an answer. And it’s an answer that Iraqis know and we don’t.

    The lameness is in how weak the explanations are, not that they’re being attempted. What’s being communicated is pretty specific.

  36. You know… throwing shoes at Bush only seems fair. I mean, it’s not like he’ll ever come to trial for the warcrimes he’s been responsible for.

  37. Duke Franz Ferdinand got the Serbian Black Hand when he visited. Bush got the Iraqi Black Foot. I for one am shocked at the diminishing quality of assassin organizations in our modern era.

  38. Okay, either I’m a cut&paste dumbass, or BoingBoing has an awesome way of dealing with URLs.
    Let’s try again:

    At the suggestion of Twitterer trochee, I made “Size Ten has a Posse” art.
    It’s at deviantart, username “divalea”

    I’m only surprised Bush hasn’t had anything hucked at him before.

  39. I think it’s fair game to explain the significance of throwing shoes, because it’s important to explain the significance of the action.

    Everyone’s seen the guys who throw cream pies – but cream pies don’t have a meaning in and of themselves.

    It’s a big fat hairy deal to throw shoes in Iraq…and it’s important to explain that — so people MIGHT (I know, I’m giving an awful lot of credit) realize what an embarrassment we’ve been living with for a president.

  40. I have to be ghetto here for a second:

    “Dey thowin’ SHOES at dat foo’. I’s like – DAYAMN.”

  41. Where were the Secret Service? I’d expect one of them to throw his body between the shoe and the Prez. like Clint Eastwood in In the Line of Fire. If you can’t anticipate a speeding shoe how can you hope to stop a speeding bullet. Not good guys. What do you mean “Nobody wants to take a shoe for Bush”?

  42. #35: “I just don’t understand what the issue is…Shoe-throwing has more cultural significance in Iraq than it does here…Are people objecting because of the way it’s being explained, or because it’s being explained at all? Because I get the former, but not so much the latter.”

    Good points. I wrote the original, somewhat light-minded blog post that Cory is quoting here. Here’s what I said in my own comment section to clarify matters:

    In all seriousness, I think our news media sometimes goes out of its way to make Mysterious Foreigners seem a lot more mysterious than they are. How many stories have we seen that solemnly cite Arab culture’s supposed “emphasis on honor” to account for the fact that when our soldiers break down people’s front doors and rough up their elderly relatives, Iraqis become enraged and begin to scream about vengeance? Those darn Iraqis, so volatile, so entangled with their “honor culture.” As if people in Kentucky wouldn’t react exactly the same way.

    Very early in the “uprising” phase of the Iraq War, Jim Henley observed that the Iraqis organizing themselves into resistance cells and setting IEDs were the precise cultural equivalent of guys in West Virginia who ride around in pickup trucks with gun racks and the Confederate flag on them. It’s a point that’s stuck with me.

    In other words, I don’t disagree with the idea of explaining that shoes, particularly soles, have special symbolic weight in Arab culture. But I do think that even well-meaning Westerners have a tendency to “anthropologize” (if you will) Middle Eastern culture, making it seem more alien and different from us than it actually is.

  43. Fun fact: Untill about a century ago it was custom here in Germany to throw shoes at a newly wed couple to wish them many children.

  44. Watch the BBC version of the video, it doesn’t have the babbling over the top, so you can hear what’s actually going on.

    I’d like to point out that Bush’s comment “So what if the guy threw a shoe at me?” is like something Chris Morris and Armando Ianucci would have dreamt up, and is straight out of The Day Today – comedy genius.

    They even have slow-motion close up!
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7782422.stm

  45. Is this better?

    “In Iraqi culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt and not, as it is in North America, a reference to the Austin Power movies.”

    “Who throws a shoe? Honestly!”

  46. I’m much more offended by a later section in the AP release:

    (in regards to Bush’s secret trip to Iraq)
    “The goal: keep Bush and his entourage safe on the trip to Iraq. Surprise is a favorite tactic of the Secret Service in a war zone.”

    So they just reported that their particular goal was to keep him SAFE? And that they use SURPRISE TO DO THIS?

    #facepalm

  47. just visit a place that uses water instead of toilet paper and try putting your left hand into the communal rice dish at dinnertime.

    I do hope everyone realizes this event coverage was heavily edited. In actual fact, Bush grabbed a small child and held him up as a shield after the first shoe was hurled.

  48. When I was in the Middle East, they made damned sure we knew to NEVER show the soles of our feet or aim our feet at anyone. EVER. (as I recall, the “okay” gesture was also forbidden, but that may have been Singapore).

    So I am unsurprised shoe-throwing is such a sign of contempt.

    I would imagine the custom originated in a time when most people’s shoes would have camel poop on them.

    …I wonder if a similar thing happened in Victorian England?

  49. Was I alone in being disappointed that the protective detail didn’t respond like they do in the movies? It was 5 seconds before anyone even got between the president and the crowd. I was fully primed to see a mob of suited guys cluster on the president and immediately chopper him away. It turns out that they just react like normal sensible people. How boring.

  50. Takuan said:

    In actual fact, Bush grabbed a small child and held him up as a shield after the first shoe was hurled.

    For those unfamiliar with Western mores, grabbing a small child is tolerated only when the grabber is a serving or prospective politician intent on securing a photo opportunity, whereas in any other context it is likely to result in an arrest for child abuse.

  51. was I alone in being disappointed that after the initial ice breaker, Bush wasn’t immediately buried under every shoe in the room?

  52. #30 – what an evil comment, sentiment and curse you have proposed. don’t forget about “tit for tat” whereby, the same curse will be reciprocated. in most cultures that is called Karma…

    Q. why do people express such evil feelings to people they don’t agree with? regardless of the cultures i study, i will never understand purposeful evil intentions.

  53. This does raise a question: what is profane in America? Swishing someone’s toothbrush in the toilet and putting it back?

    Any sort of normal, healthy sexual activity or display of sexual characteristics. Violent abnormal sexual acitivites are OK. So, prime time television can dwell on rape and genital mutilation, but breastfeeding and monogamous sex will not be televised.

    was I alone in being disappointed that after the initial ice breaker, Bush wasn’t immediately buried under every shoe in the room?

    You were not alone!

    –Charlie

  54. I heard on the radio that the reporter’s wife and kid were killed by an airstrike. Can anyone confirm?

  55. In the American West, we shoot bullets to indicate both our approval of or our displeasure with a politician. The only difference is the direction in which we point the gun – vertically for approval, horizontally for disapproval.

    In either case, we simultaneously shout “Woo-Hoo!”, but if expressing disapproval we add, “you bastard!”

  56. The information is important. Personally, I never knew that throwing a shoe at someone had special significance to Arabs.

    When I heard about this, my first thought was that somebody spontaneously got really, really pissed off about something Bush said during that conference, snapped, and then attacked him with whatever was at hand. The main thing is that someone snapped; a spontaneous emotional response. I mean, why the hell would you throw a shoe at the guy? Without the cultural context, it’s just a crazy physical attack.

    Yes, obviously it means you’re unhappy with the person, but adding the cultural context, it suggests it’s more of a calculated thing. Throwing a shoe becomes not a random, spontaneous and somewhat crazy attack, but a intentional insult. It carries a lot more meaning, and most Westerners probably aren’t aware of it.

    Imagine you’re having a heated argument. In response to a particularly scathing comment, your opponent throws a glove down on the ground. If you had no idea what it meant, you would assume it’s simply a gesture of frustration. But in reality, your entire discussion has just shifted gears.

    Context is incredibly important.

  57. Nice dodge,
    But I’m still waiting for Bush to be hit with a bigger shoe,
    namely, being brought to justice for crimes against humanity.

  58. Bush, being American, probably was most confused. If he wanted to offend him, he should’ve just flicked him off. Then he would’ve gotten the point.

  59. I just want to know when that video is going to get yakety sax-ed.

    Surprised it has taken so long.

    Don’t let me down, Internets!

  60. In England you “give someone a shoe-ing” with your foot still in the shoe. An opportunity missed there.

  61. The slow response was due to the sheer unexpectedness and inherent harmlessness, a shoe at that distance won’t cause much damage, and the wires already report iraqis protesting for the shoe-throwers release, as he was only exercising the freedom of expression which the US Army has so thoughtfully provided by their invasion.
    Meanwhile I see human rights organizations are reporting today that pre-trial torture is now commonplace and routine in the Iraqi justice system.

  62. Let the haters eat crow, Geo fearlessly ducked the shoe, never lost eye contact then totally dismissed the second shoe with barely a concern. He was steel eyed and faced his attacker without so much as a flinch. See how you react to a surprise shoe attack some day. LOL!

  63. “what is profane in America?”

    Passing up a sale on large screen TV’s at Wall Mart and not killing anyone in your way.

  64. The reporter looks suspiciously like Rip Torn. And I’m pretty sure if you listen carefully he’s actually saying “If you can dodge a shoe, you can dodge a ball.”

  65. My favorite is from CNN’s writeup:

    Hurling any object is a form of hostility, but in Arab culture, throwing a shoe or striking someone with one is the ultimate form of contempt.

    Nobody likes having things thrown at them. You don’t say? Thanks, CNN!

  66. @36 said…
    “I’ll let you in on a secret: Throwing anything at anyone is a sign of disrespect.”

    I respectfully disagree. Throwing panties, for example, is a well-known prelude to mating, particularly if thrown on stage during a rock concert.

  67. Cheney was right, clearly the Iraqi insurgents are in their last throws.*

    *(Not my original snark, credit is duly given to Smut Clyde. Genius should be rewarded.)

  68. I wonder if this same guy would have thrown shoes at Saddam. Oh wait, that would have been a one-way ticket to hell.

    But carry on. You kids seem to be having a blast.

  69. Dude isn’t worth a bullet.

    BTW, Arab culture? Doesn’t anyone read the bible anymore? Dusting off one’s feet when leaving a city was a sign that the city could not be saved by god. I mean, even here, in America, I think we’d take it as a sign of complete disgust at someone. Though I’m certain the media would turn it into more of a “crazy” act than anything else. Any culture, the message is pretty clear:

    “You are worth less than the dirt these shoes have trodden on. In fact, you are not even worth these shoes.”

    Seems pretty straight forward to me, in any culture.

    I think people are still too afraid to speak the straight up, honest truth about this man.

  70. “Several people descended on the man immediately after, wrestling him to the ground, and it took a minute or two for security agents to clear the crowd and start hauling him out. As they dragged him off, he was moaning and screaming as if in pain. Later, a large blood trail could be seen on the carpet where he was dragged out of the room.”

    Metlin: Saddam? oh you mean the sadistic dictator that was created and installed by America and then removed after a long period of cooperation including the supply of poison gas used to kill Kurds? That guy?

  71. It’s almost as if Bush is smiling after the first throw and appears to barely flinch during the second. Too bad he didn’t manage a Chuck Norris style snatching of the shoe in mid-air.

  72. was I alone in being disappointed that after the initial ice breaker, Bush wasn’t immediately buried under every shoe in the room?

    I was waiting for that too, actually. I’m feeling a little let down by the bulk of Iraqi journalism right now.

    Any word on how our heroic shoe-thrower is being treated by the security detail? Has he disappeared into a deep pit yet, or have they had the common sense to publicly pat him on the head and send him on his way with a restraining order banning him from anywhere within 200 miles of El Presidente?

    Regarding the original subject, I’d be less irked by the explanations if they’d just come up with a reasonable equivalent from western culture (I liked the comparison to rotten eggs and spoiled vegetables, although I think there’s less symbolic offense and more “it’s stinky” involved with those) and move on.

    It’s important to point out that he wasn’t just throwing his shoes for a lack of anything else to throw after going through security.

  73. I acknowledge the point of this post, but are there other examples of Arabs throwing shoes at people? Everybody paying attention for the last few years has heard that showing the soles of your feet is an insult in Arabic culture. But if there were a string of celebrities or politicians that had gotten shoes thrown at them in recent years, we could triangulate the meaning of this gesture a little better. If there have not been many other cases of Arabs throwing shoes as a specific kind of insult, then that seems to back up Cory’s point, that the press is being a little misleading.

  74. Concerning the slow reaction by the CIA: in their defense, how could they have possibly known that the guy had TWO shoes?

    I just wish Arab newspapers were emphasizing the inherent ridiculousness attached to the act of shoe-throwing in Western cultures, to explain Bush’s shrugging reaction. Its like they’re totally unwilling to make an effort to learn more about our customs.

  75. When did they stop throwing flowers? Jeez, step out of the room for a minute…

    Oh, won’t it be entrancing,
    the laughter and the dancing,
    just like a country fair.
    The shouting and the singing,
    and liberty’s bells a’ringing
    as flowers fill the air.

    The Wizard of Oil

  76. “Not like here in the west, where it’s a gesture of affection. ”

    I always like airports at Christmas time, when families reunite, and the air is thick with shoes.

  77. Whatever media organization that guy works for, I want to read their coverage of the press conference!

    A while ago there was a group of cab drivers protesting a measure city hall was getting set to pass in Edmonton Alberta. I stopped to get one of the cabbies to explain the issue to me, and caught a lovely staged moment in which a group of (I guess Arab) cabbies brought out a coffin with some suitable text on it to make it clear it represented burying the legislation (not, say, the mayor), and then took off their shoes and whaled on the coffin with the soles. It looked like fun.

  78. The rudeness of one man to another is regrettable. The magnitude of the human and economic grief caused by one man, has been huge .
    ………………………..
    Did the shoe thrower have the foresight to set up a PayPal account before he went to the press conference?

  79. In other words, I don’t disagree with the idea of explaining that shoes, particularly soles, have special symbolic weight in Arab culture. But I do think that even well-meaning Westerners have a tendency to “anthropologize” (if you will) Middle Eastern culture, making it seem more alien and different from us than it actually is.

    The thing is, the headlines I’ve seen, particularly in this post, do the former, not the latter. I’ve seen little to no exoticization of this subject. The headlines above are entirely explanitory and based in fact. The Whopper Virgins commercials? Now there’s exoticization. I agree that there is a lot of exoticization in American culture, it stems from our xenophobia and exceptionalism, but this is not an example of.

  80. Regardless of personal opinions about the man himself, you have to admire several things.
    1-Agility in ducking those shoes.
    2-No diving under chairs for cover or running for the exit.
    3-Ability to take the incident in stride.

    Also standing out is that other Iraqi reporters tried to stop the man. And that the man has the freedom to throw the shoes without being immediately fed into a wood chipper.

    Ideally, it would have been perfect if President Bush were to have picked up the shoes, calmly walked over and placed them back on the mans feet. It wouldn’t have solved all the problems, but would have been a great sign showing sorrow for the innocent lives lost and also hope for the re-building that needs to continue.

  81. There are mass calls for his release, but does anyone know what’s happened to him since he was arrested? Has he been seen or had contact with anyone (his employer Al Baghdadia news, a lawyer, any free speech or human rights groups, etc)?

  82. Is it still an insult if the guy yells “I work for Thom McCann and I want you to have a free sample! HERE, try these on!”

  83. Ideally, it would have been perfect if President Bush were to have picked up the shoes, calmly walked over and placed them back on the mans feet.

    Ideally, it would’ve been perfect if Bush didn’t invade Iraq by concocting lies about WMDs, then shifting to nonsense like “It’s a liberation” or “Saddam hearts Al Qaeda” when convenient. It would’ve been perfect if Bush didn’t drag the entire US to his sick level of morality by making torture standard practice.

    Ideally, the Iraqi reporter would’ve been a horse so he’d have four shoes to throw at that sad excuse for a human being.

  84. The above who say: “hurling any object is a sign of contempt…” and “throwing anything is impolite” have never been to the rock concerts I’ve been to, people threw all kinds of good things at their idols up there on the stage.
    And of course throwing money at people is no insult, either.

  85. to reiterate: to an arab ( or persian!) throwing a shoe = Throwing shit. shoes step in shit. just like shaking hands with the left hand is so very disrespectful, the left hand wipes the ass. not much more ‘unclean’ in their world than the poopies.

  86. I went to a Green Day concert in the mid-90s in Toronto and several people threw their shoes onstage. One hit lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong. He played out the rest of the song, pointed to someone in the crowd, and exclaimed “You! Up on stage right now!”

    BJA “You play an instrument?”
    dude “Yeah, drums.”

    The band shuffled around, sat the guy at the kit, and they all played a song together. Then the footwear-flinging fellow stood up, took a bow, rubbed one of the members on the head, and dove into the crowd, a hero.

    2 weeks later Oasis cancelled their Toronto show after about 20 minutes due to flying shoes. They flipped off the crowd and walked offstage.

    What a complex gesture shoe-throwing is! Maybe I’ll give it a try myself. You know, throw a few shoes around, see what sticks.

  87. Can’t believe no one has been lame enough to say it, so I will. If the shoe fits…… Bush needs to get in plenty of travel now. Once he is done he risks arrest and trial in the Hague.

  88. I would like to suggest that we make Bush’s last day in office and “International Throw Your Shoe Day”. Perhaps someone would like to step up and organize a flash mob of shoe throwing outside the white house? Someone with more time on their hands then me?

  89. olmsteader: This is brilliant.

    I’m not in/near DC, but maybe we could get sympathy shoe-flingings in other places around the world? A *lot* of people here in NYC have greatly appreciated Mr Zaidi’s actions.

  90. If I had to guess, I’m guessing Bush was nothing short of completely stunned when the *second* shoe came flying.

  91. Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes. Because then he’ll be barefoot and you’ll be a mile away. At which point, feel free to judge.

  92. I think we all understand the impulse. I’ve been throwing my shoes at him for years (whenever he comes on my radio or TV).

  93. GRIMC-
    As the saying goes, “You can wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which gets filled first.”

    In the choice between complaining about what happened or taking steps to fix it, I would prefer to look for a way to fix it. But feel free to keep on complaining. Maybe one day your words will even motivate you to action.

  94. “In actual fact, Bush grabbed a small child and held him up as a shield after the first shoe was hurled.”

    Wow, youse guys seemed to have missed the superlative reference to Cronenberg’s ‘Dead Zone’…

    Anyway, although not being Arabic or from the Middle East, and in no way familiar with the subtleties of the cultures of the region, chucking ya shoe at the US PRESIDENT is a pretty clear indication of how you feel about Bush.

    I saw it on TV and thought, now that’s poetic justice.

  95. I, too, am impressed by Bush’s Chuck Norris-like dodging skills. Wonder maybe he’s done this before … a lot.

    ~ e-Bomb

  96. What is all the metaphorical talk about? I’m Armenian and for us growing up meant ducking a shoe/slipper thrown at you in a vain attempt to inflict pain at a distance by a parental unite.

  97. So what happened to the shoe tossing GIFs Boing Boing entry? Violation of Boing Boing’s ethics rules? Threats from the CIA or the CPA?

  98. @139 Seriously, those were great. Bummer they were taken down.

    If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge…a shoe, i guess, but not a DMCA/secret service takedown.

  99. Just like when people think of Emperor Nero, they think of his fiddle, when people think of W, I want them to think of shoes, a flying cloud of incoming shoes. I would love to see him shoed wherever he goes for the rest of his miserable selfish greedy ignorant life.

    Next, how about carnival games, like softballs and milk bottles, adapted for shoe throwing? You pays your quarter, you get a basket of shoes to throw at W’s head. Or a new version of Whack-a-mole? Come on, carny folks, get on it! And meanwhile, is there a website yet with a flash videogame of Shoe the Chimp? America awaits!

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