Monday, December 15, 2008

Sign language

As much as I dislike the current President Bush (and believe me, I really dislike him), I am very glad that he was not shot at during his recent visits to Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, it is simply funny and a little bit sad that the Iraqi reporter threw his shoes at him. I'm sure you've seen the video - it's pretty hilarious, actually. The sad part is that the reporter has been incarcerated for what he must have perceived to be an outrageous insult, but we saw it as only one part threatening and nine parts slapstick. As far as I am concerned, he had may as well have thrown a pie.

Culturally specific insults have always amused me. The "OK" sign we make with the thumb and index finger in a circle is, famously, tremendously lewd in Spanish and Brazilian cultures (makes sense when you think about it). So is the sole of the shoe in many cultures, including the Muslim world, which is the specific insult that this misguided reporter was intending to convey to the President. It is interesting to think that, had the Iraqi yelled things about Bush's mother or flipped him the bird, it may have gotten deeper under Bush's skin than the shoes did, even though the intent and feelings were the same.

The lesson to be learned, it would seem, is that insults only demonstrate the feelings of the one doing the insulting and we learn absolutely nothing about the one being insulted. Insults are very inconsistent and unreliable methods of communication. Stick to the facts, Jack!

No comments: