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Soleless protesters toss shoes
Question of the Day
At least they're not throwing rocks. Or their underwear. Or pies.
The shoe protesters are back in action, however, indignantly flinging footwear at the objects if their irritation. The mayor of Ithaca, N.Y., and Israel's ambassador to Sweden are the latest officials to be shoed - or "shod," as the case may be.
Both came under fire in the last 48 hours.
Mayor Carolyn Peterson was threatened with three shoes thrown by Robin Palmer, a gray-haired and ailing man claiming to be a former member of the hippie-era Weather Underground. Mr. Palmer was eventually taken away in an ambulance rather than a paddy wagon after disrupting a town council meeting with antiwar protests.
"I'm sure he chose to throw shoes because of press coverage of all the previous incidents. He was yelling, 'Arrest me, arrest me.' But there were other issues at stake," Mrs. Peterson said Thursday. "We did not arrest him. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction."
Across the globe, Ambassador Benny Dagan was struck by flying shoes during an appearance at Stockholm University, and in a new variant, also encountered books tossed by angry students. Naturally, there is already the obligatory 49-second video at several sources online, showcasing the exact moment when shoes and catcalls filled the air.
Not all young Swedes are amused, apparently. The Foreign Policies Association on the campus issued a terse statement condemning the act.
"Violence is never a solution," they said.
Yet some observers, particularly in the blogosphere, contend that copycat shoe throwing is, well, as passe as pieing and egging - two other political projectiles that once guaranteed decent media coverage for a cause. Already, there are "shoe thrower" mousepads, bumper stickers and T-shirts available from canny entrepreneurs.
"Shoe throwing is the leftist protest du jour," noted Wonkette.
"Shoe throwing is so yesterday," suggested the Jawa Report, another blog.
"Well, you can always try handcuffs," said Jodie Evans, co-founder of Code Pink, the antiwar group which last month pelted a man wearing a papier-mache Bush mask and a jailbird costume near the White House.
Reporting at the scene, Washington Post writer Dana Milbank was hit by a flip-flop or two himself.
The group also has tried to handcuff former Bush aide Karl Rove on three occasions in the past, she said.
"Handcuffs are not as messy than pies. And they represent accountability. Once, we actually did get cuffs on Rove, and people were really excited. The thing about handcuffs is that you only have to succeed in getting them on once. The audience will still be thrilled even by the idea of them," Ms. Evans said.
Shoe throwing still has quite the cultural pedigree, though.
Mrs. Peterson and Mr. Dagan now join an elite roster of shoed that includes former President George W. Bush, who calmly dodged a pair of loafers lobbed by an irate Iraqi journalist in December. A lone British shoe protester missed Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday.
And in recent related shoe bullying, a Ukrainian reporter shoed a local politician over taxes, several hundred Bosnians threw their shoes at effigies of local officials, and Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva threatened to throw his shoes at unfriendly journalists.
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