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Insulting a Leader

Entry 911, on 2008-12-18 at 12:56:14 (Rating 3, News)

Apparently, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at US President George Bush, has now been injured and has been taken to hospital. He was charged with insulting a foreign leader for the "shoe attack" and that carries a maximum sentence of two years in jail. Should insulting a leader be a crime when insulting anyone else isn't? And should throwing shoes (which missed their target) be worthy of 2 years in prison?

If a world leader, such as George Bush, wants to invade a country and kill a hunderd thousand innocent civilians he should expect to be "insulted" I would have thought. If its illegal to insult someone who could possibly be accused of mass murder then what does that really tell us about the law? That its there to protect the rich and powerful perhaps?

The implication, of course, is that these injuries were inflicted on the accused by the Iraqi police while he was in custody. Maybe the Iraqis have been taking lessons on interrogation form their American friends!

To be fair, this is probably a better outcome for a person accused of this sort of crime than it would have been when Saddam Hussein was still there. I'm sure anyone who threw their shoes at him would have suffered more than a broken leg and some cracked ribs!

But that's not really the point. One side in a conflict can't claim the moral high ground then go and act in a similar way to the side they say they are there to eliminate. When the good guys start acting in a similar way to the bad guys it suddenly becomes difficult to say which side is which.

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Comment 1 (1835) by SBFL on 2008-12-19 at 09:14:42:

Whether he missed or not is irrelevant. GWB had to duck to avoid so if he wasn´t looking, it would have struck him. Anyway, that is beside the point, intent is the critical aspect here, not performance of execution.

On the punishments metted out, well I think it is a bit unfair to pin on GWB, or his invasion. I would say it is more to do with the Iraqi police culture, being that it is just the way they do things there (and as you pointed out, this probably has improved somewhat since the Saddam Hussein days). From what I saw on TV, GBW actually took it quite well and made a joke about it later.

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Comment 2 (1837) by OJB on 2008-12-19 at 12:38:21:

Well sure, I know the intention to injure or insult GWB was the critical element, but think about this: If it had been anyone else and the shoe had missed it probably would have been ignored. If the shoe had hit and caused a nasty injury it would have probably been taken seriously. So the outcome is important, not just the intention.

So are you saying that the protests against Bush weren't related to the fact that he invaded Iraq and caused 650,000 deaths? So what were they protesting about, if not that?

Yes, George W did take it well and good for him. He's not all bad. If I remember correctly there is a post somewhere in this blog which actually compliments him!

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