Thursday, March 12, 2009

Misrule of Law

I can't think of anything dumber than the sentencing of Muntadhar al-Zeidi to three years in Iraq prison for throwing a shoe at President Bush during an unannounced visit to the country. Not that the punishment isn't justified - though the defense argues shoe-throwing is an exercise of free speech, I think it's fair to consider it an assault on a foreign leader. But that's not the point. This will only exacerbate al-Zeidi's role as a focal point for anti-occupation sentiment, and increase instability in Iraq. The court could have made its point while slapping him on the wrist and punishing him with the time he's already served.


nolocontendere said...

The throwee should be in prison, not the thrower!

Roy said...

The punishment was pretty excessive just because the end result was pretty harmless. In hindsight, the entire affair was humorous. Making this, well, idiot some kind of martyr is just stupid…to we Americans.

I have to consider, though, the embarrassment to the Iraqi government. For this to happen to a visiting head of state must have just been terrible for them. If you're trying to establish rule of law in a state that is under constant threat from average citizens doing bad stuff to do harm far worse than merely throwing shoes, then three years might be the right amount of time to send a message. If action like this can be covered under the justification that he was "speaking" freely and forcefully sending a message, then the Bernie Goetz of the world should be excited.

Note to al-Zeidi: put it in a column next time and leave your shoes on.

Last observation: not since Oddjob in Goldfinger has a piece of clothing looked so deadly.

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