Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Putting The Boot In

As much as well all like to put the boot into our politicians from time to time, the fact is that we usually choose to do it verbally rather than literally. However that didn’t stop Peter Gray from standing up in the audience of the ABC television show “Q And A” and hurling his sneakers at former Prime Minister John Howard last night. In a bizarre flash of prescience a twitter message ran across the screen just moments before the incident asking “why doesn’t somebody throw a shoe at this man?” And then, right on cue, somebody did. Obviously, the stunt was deliberately intended to be reminiscent of the shoe attack upon former United States President George W. Bush, and it was intended to highlight similar issues. Mr. Gray shouted from the audience, “That is for Iraqi dead!” as his shoes failed to hit anything or anyone of any importance.

Subsequently, Mr. Gray has stated that he believes that he found the “appropriate” form of protest to get his point across. The throwing of shows is culturally significant in the Middle East, and he says that they are the people to whom he was sending a message. Criticised for his poor throwing technique, Mr. Gray said, "I certainly didn't want to hurt the man but I certainly wanted to make my point known." He has no remorse for his actions, and regrets only that the ABC has refused to return his shoes. The response from the community has been mixed, with even opponents of Mr. Howard labelling the protest as pathetic. While this form of protest is vastly preferable to genuine political violence, it would generally be considered to be something foreign to Australian culture, and most Australians are likely to dismiss the incident as idiotic, even if the agree with the sentiment. But it is worth noting the cool calm and collected response of Mr. Howard who simply laughed off the whole affair.

After, a little controversy never did any harm to anybody’s book sales.

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