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Shoe Tosser and the Obama Heckler

by Eric S. Peterson
Posted // 2009-09-16 -

Hecklers are in the news lately. In the good ol’ U.S. of A we’ve got South Carolina loud mouth republican congressman Joe Wilson who cleverly shouted “You Lie!” at Obama’s healthcare address, when the President denied that his reform package would extend benefits to undocumented immigrants. Then you also have the famous shoe-tossing Iraqi reporter fresh out of prison for hucking his footwear at George W.

It’s one of those moments where I see two examples of a similar behavior and feel a little bit o’ cognitive dissonance churning in me like heartburn. On the one hand, shoe-tosser Muntadhar al-Zeidi is just such a badass in my book for having the stones to toss his own shoes at the man who shock-n-awed the shit out of his country, under pretenses now proven to be BS. Yet ultimately his choice of expression through shoe projectiles really has to be on par with Wilson’s frustrated outburst.

And yet al-Zeidi’s antics make me smile but I can’t help but think of Wilson as an ass... hard to reconcile.

But if I were to rationalize it would be to say that if you’re an elected representative, you’re not furthering any kind of meaningful dialogue through heckling. Al-Zeidi, still should have known better as a journalist, but probably can be held to a lower standard than a public official.

Besides, Al-Zeidi paid his dues, recently having reported that his shoe tossing resulted in beatings, whippings and electrocutions—on top of the nearly 9 months in an Iraqi slammer. Wilson on the other hand, just got himself a “resolution of disapproval” from his House colleagues. Ooh look out--that’s gonna leave a mark.

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