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Insulting a Leader

December 19, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

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 hundred 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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