December 17, 2008

In Iraq, throwing a shoe at somebody is the ultimate insult.

So the question must be asked: What object, thrown, is the ultimate insult in other countries?
In France, of course, it’s a waffle....

Who’s to say why, exactly? Some say the waffle’s association with Belgium is enough to disgust any Frenchman. Others suggest it is its annoyingly spongy consistency....

[In] Chad... hitting someone with a pair of pants is the highest form of insult....

In the former Soviet Union it is not uncommon, especially among the savage Russian mafia, to throw a 68-ton American-made Abrams M1A1 tank....

In Peru, meanwhile, people throw their voices as a form of insult...

[In] Bhutan... people throw brightly colored tissue paper...
Surely, you can think of some better examples. So many countries. And don't forget the 50 states.

73 comments:

Hazy Dave said...

Throwing a beer on someone in Milwaukee is a major insult.

Hot tip via Rachel Lucas:
http://fuckyoupenguin.blogspot.com/

Hazy Dave said...

You little fucker, you think you can just fucking waltz into our lives like nothing ever happened, but I know your kind, Squirrel. I turn my back for one second and you are causing power outages and breaking the noses of Finnish opera singers. So just go back to being hunched over nibbling on an acorn in my backyard, because you can stand there waiting for an invitation to my Christmas party all you want, IT'S NOT GOING TO COME. You may have found my weakness for animals that stand on two legs, but I'm smarter than you, Squirrel. And I will defeat you.

former law student said...

I'm not certain if this was directed to me, but I once returned to my parked car in a small town in California to find a rain-soaked tampon om my windshield.

mcg said...

Where is it the ultimate insult to throw a penguin at someone? Because wherever it is I'd like to go there, just to watch.

mcg said...

It is only in post-Saddam Iraq that shoe throwing has reached the top spot. When he was in power, the ultimate insult you could face was having your own entrails thrown into your face.

Ann Althouse said...

Hey, I already linked to Fuck You, Penguin in an update to yesterday's baby picture post.

dbp said...

I don't think shoes are so bad. Something that can go splat would be bad, or somthing which can cause lasting harm, like a hand grenade for instance.

Shoes could slightly hurt, if you weren't paying attention, but you can keep the shoes and make the thrower walk home barefoot. If they have a spare pair, this would prove premeditation I think.

garage mahal said...

Sometimes liberations require cracking a few eggs.

Meade said...

Back home again in Indiana, it's long been considered an insult to fling cattle manure at someone's head while they're looking in the opposite direction.

I know -- weird... but about some things, we Hoosiers are just that way .

peter hoh said...

In Chad, the ultimate insult is to throw a Miami-Dade election official in someone's face.

mcg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dbp said...

In the Marine Corps, our ultimate insult was to grab a Marine's cover (hat) and throw it violently to the deck (floor). Not sure if this qualifies since you are not throwing anything at the guy.

I don't know if this was just my unit, or just the airwing, but that is how it was in VMAQ-4 Whidbey Island.

siyeh pass said...

Throwing a beer on someone in Milwaukee is a major insult.

Yeah, did that once. Started innocently enough - me backing up from the Special Sauce stand at County Stadium (I guess my tail lights were operating properly), I inadvertently bumped into the woman behind me. She got pissed and stuck her hand in my beer. I told her she could keep it...

mcg said...

You Americans are so naive. In my country, when you want to break up with a girl, you just say "I break with thee! I break with thee! I break with thee!" and then you throw dog poop on her shoes. And then, my brother and I go to the swinging singles club, and look for the girls with the dog poop on their shoes!

mcg said...

(footnote not required I hope)

Hazy Dave said...

Sorry, missed the update. Never mind.

Michael_H said...

Throwing a punch at someone's face usually does it.

Ditto calling someone a Giants fan.

UWS guy said...

Among Afghanistan terrorists it is the height of rudeness to have a hellcat cruise missile thrown at you from a drone by an American.

kynefski said...

In Delaware, they throw out your liability claim.

Jeremy said...

A shoe? Man, that shows a lack of imagination.

Tibore said...

"Meade said...
Back home again in Indiana, it's long been considered an insult to fling cattle manure at someone's head while they're looking in the opposite direction."


What part of this state are you from?? Where I'm at, the ultimate insult is to call their name out so it hits them in the face.

And hell, the super-ultimate insult is to forgo the manure and just clock 'em. Pow! Right in the kisser.

TRO said...

It seems to me that if you want to insult someone you use an insult from their country/culture, not your own. This guy throws a couple of shoes at Bush and, while it is some big time insult over there, most Americans just think it is silly ala Austin Powers and the shoe guy.

Then again, our most popular public insult, shooting the bird, has been so overused that it doesn't really insult anyone anymore.

Nothing shocks, certainly not a shoe.

MadisonMan said...

In the US? Call them a liberal.

That doesn't really work well in Dane Co., however.

William said...

What about Althouse is so attractive to readers in Indiana?...In America the preferred projectile against politicians has been cream pies. I think the effort is made to make the politician look like a low comedy stooge. The downside to cream pies is that it is almost impossible to score a direct hit. I think an earlier generation used rotten tomatos and eggs. The payoff is not so satisfying as a cream pie, but it is much easier to hit the target with these projectiles. One should never let the ideal become the enemy of the good.

Henry said...

At Althouse, it's an egg salad sandwich.

Or a squirrel.

MadisonMan said...

Best insult in Wisconsin: Did you move here from Minnesota yesterday?

Tibore said...

"TRO said...
It seems to me that if you want to insult someone you use an insult from their country/culture, not your own. This guy throws a couple of shoes at Bush and, while it is some big time insult over there, most Americans just think it is silly ala Austin Powers and the shoe guy."


No kidding. Anyone remember the Bill Cosby monologue where he talks about his own mother's shoe throwing prowess? She could round corners and stuff? Bottom line is that this isn't seen as an insult as much as it's seen as something comical.

AllenS said...

Never, and I mean never, throw your face at someone's fist.

Henry said...

Bottom line is that this isn't seen as an insult as much as it's seen as something comical.

Of course, other than shoes, what option did the guy have? It's not like you can throw a necktie across a room.

AllenS said...

There used to be a time, oh, way back when, Tom Jones and Elvis Presley had women throwing their underpants at them. Were they upset? Not so much.

knox said...

Didn's someone throw salad dressing at Ann Coulter? What was that supposed to mean...

Scipio said...

Throwing accusations of Canadian citizenship is accounted the vilest of insults in Michigan.

mcg said...

Didn's someone throw salad dressing at Ann Coulter? What was that supposed to mean...

That she wouldn't be so skinny if she'd just dare to use some.

Cedarford said...

Seriously?

Calling a Japanese a Korean is the ultimate insult.
In Korea and China, the worst insult is suggesting the person has Japanese blood.
In Panama, calling someone a homosexual is about the worst thing, even if they ARE homosexual.

Calling a Palestinian the genetic closest cousin of Jews is right there.

Hitting a Thai in the head for any reason, even lightly, is considered a deadly insult.

Italians that their mother is a whore descended from Arab blood.

America goes with spitting in the face - hopefully combined with some other accusation, sexual or ethnic slur as the worst.

The Iraqi insult is a powerful one, and Bush's attempt to laugh it off only reinforced in Muslim eyes how clueless Bush is to their culture.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Didn's someone throw salad dressing at Ann Coulter? What was that supposed to mean...

What kind of salad dressing what it? If was some kind of vinagarette I suppose one can draw their own conclusions.

Tibore said...

"knox said...
Didn's someone throw salad dressing at Ann Coulter? What was that supposed to mean..."


Well, it depends. If it was French dressing, it was a comment about her overt Americanism. If it was Italian, that dressing contains olive oil, and since it has oil, it must be a commentary on neoconservatism's "lust" for petroleum. If it was Ranch, the very light color of it suggests a sexual insult, since it resembles... well, you know.

If it's a vinaigrette... well, hell if I know. Someone thinks she's fat?

Tibore said...

Damn... what is it about us Hoosiers that we get stumped by vinaigrettes?

:D

Hoosier Daddy said...

Italians that their mother is a whore descended from Arab blood.

That reminds me of the scene with Chris Walken and Dennis Hopper in True Romance where Hopper is telling Walken who is this Sicilan mobster that the reasons Sicilians are dark is because hundreds of years ago the Moors took over Sicily and screwed all the women and that he's the color of an eggplant cause his great-great-grandmother fu**ed a Moor.

Walken ends up blowing his brains out. That is such a great movie.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Damn... what is it about us Hoosiers that we get stumped by vinaigrettes?

Well I was thinking along the lines of well...vinegar and water but I was hoping Trooper would have been here to fill in the punch line, but alas, he failed me.

Jeremy said...

"Someone shows me one of their fingers and I'm supposed to feel bad. Is that the way it's supposed to work? I mean, you could just give someone the toe, really. Couldn't you? I would feel worse if I got the toe, than if I got the finger. 'Cause it's not easy to give someone the toe. You've gotta get the shoe off, the sock of and drive, get it up and, uh (pretends to drive with a foot out the window) and speaks to person driving next to him: "Look at that toe, buddy." (puts his foot down) I mean, that's really insulting to get the toe, isn't it?"

Seinfeld

mcg said...

That reminds me of the scene with Chris Walken and Dennis Hopper in True Romance

Here you go.

mcg said...

Language warning on that clip. N-word specifically.

LarsPorsena said...

"The Iraqi insult is a powerful one, and Bush's attempt to laugh it off only reinforced in Muslim eyes how clueless Bush is to their culture."

Yep!! So he should have had the Secret Service guys beat the thrower to a bloody pulp just to show how tuned in he is to Arab 'culture".
That would have sent a message Arabs would understand.

AllenS said...

In Illinois, it's considered an insult to throw not enough money at the Governor.

Hoosier Daddy said...

The Iraqi insult is a powerful one, and Bush's attempt to laugh it off only reinforced in Muslim eyes how clueless Bush is to their culture."

Or perhaps his laughing it off only showed them what he thinks of their culture.

Which considering their behavior after having their murderous thug of a leader removed, should be nothing short of disdain.

Henry said...

Maybe that's why they hate us.

Because we're so hard to insult.

EDH said...

Does throwing a hissy fit count?

Christopher Walken is a dark Sicilian?

dbp said...

The Iraqi insult is a powerful one, and Bush's attempt to laugh it off only reinforced in Muslim eyes how clueless Bush is to their culture."

Yes, of course what he should have done, if he had any tact or sense, would be to perform Seppuku.

Stupid American, not knowing the precise formal way of dealing with a 3rd world insult.

pduggie said...

"The Iraqi insult is a powerful one, and Bush's attempt to laugh it off only reinforced in Muslim eyes how clueless Bush is to their culture."

Does it? Or does it say "screw you and your insults, I don't care"

And doesn't that make THEM clueless to his culture? Shouldn't they have spit on him instead to send HIM the message he would understand.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Christopher Walken is a dark Sicilian?

It was a movie many of which require the suspension of disbelief. It's the same technique I rely on in the Bourne Supremacy movies when Matt Damon is an indestructible secret agent.

Ann Althouse said...

Yeah, I think laughing at someone else's supposed power play is an effective putdown.

By the way, doesn't the belief that soles of shoes are horrible say something about the filthiness of the streets and sidewalks of the place where you live? I think the belief insults its own culture. We think our streets and sidewalks are pretty clean, so we don't freak out about shoes.

mcg said...

And doesn't that make THEM clueless to his culture? Shouldn't they have spit on him instead to send HIM the message he would understand.

Exactly. If you call me a name in a language I don't understand, have you really insulted me, or just made yourself out to be an ass?

jdeeripper said...

Hazy Dave said...Throwing a beer on someone in Milwaukee is a major insult.

Really? I thought is was cheese. I can see one of the natives tossing a nice wedge of cheddar but not beer.

People in Wisconsin really love their alcohol. I don't see them giving it up on anybody even to get in a good insult.

At least not without drinking it first.

Meade said...

Good point.

What the shoe thrower should have done is first eat his shoe and then throw it up on his target.

That would have taken the insult to the next ultimate level while making the statement, See? Our culture is so superior that we can even eat the always-clean bottoms of our shoes before vomiting them on people who we despise.

Bumsurf said...

In my country (Kahleefourkneeah) we throw an indictment attached to a lawyer as the ultimate insult.

JAL said...

Well it made the Iraqi/Mookti "journalist" feel good. And a bunch of Mookti guys and gals feel good (Are they really Iraqis? Or Iranians living in Iraq? Or some other political flavor?) Oh yeah, and a bunch of American Mooktis disguised as American "journalists" feel good.

But they felt good for a few minutes. Better than they were feeling 6 years ago, most likely.

The rest of us simply do not care about the shoe throwing for all the reasons above an many more, and that is what drives them all nuts.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I think the belief insults its own culture.

I'll go so far as to say if they stuck to throwing shoes at each other rather than blowing up random folks at the local market, I'd say that would be a major civilizational advancement.

former law student said...

doesn't the belief that soles of shoes are horrible say something about the filthiness of the streets and sidewalks of the place where you live?

The belief that the feet are unclean extends across most of Asia, among Hindus and Buddhists as well as Muslims. And it does indicate that the outside of one's home is unclean. Compare the Japanese custom of removing one's shoes before entering a residence.

Meade said...

Some places you don't have to throw the entire shoe. For instance, in Madison, Wisconsin and Berkeley, California, just throwing one's carbon footprint is often taken as an insult.

Der Hahn said...

So the question must be asked: What object, thrown, is the ultimate insult in other countries?

In France, of course, it’s a waffle....


In the US, it's an insult to keep someone from eating one.

Shawn Levasseur said...

that article reminded me of John Belushi's bit on SNL's Weekend Update about March going in like a lion and out like a lamb...

But did you know that March behaves differently in other countries? In Norway, for example, March comes in like a polar bear and goes out like a walrus. Or, take the case of Honduras where March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a salt marsh harvest mouse.

Let's compare this to the Maldive Islands where March comes in like a wildebeest and goes out like an ant. A tiny, little ant about this big....


etc.

(full text found at http://snuh.livejournal.com/186284.html

just search for "John Belushi" on the page, you'll find it.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't think we take insults seriously enough here to have an official Most Insulting Thing That Can Be Thrown.

Michael_H said...

Epithets. An epithet is the official Most Insulting Thing That Can Be Thrown in a PC society.

rhhardin said...

COncert-going French, in Faure's time, would whistle along to premier performances if the piece was banal enough.

The conductor/composer, to get back, would then play the whole thing again from the beginning.

And of course French waiters bring menus in English to French-speaking Canadians.

Somewhere there is a dictionary of French hand gestures.. hmm.. here.

John Burgess said...

Althouse: the shoe thing goes far beyond the issue of the cleanliness of the streets.

It may have its origins in it, but it goes back to times and places where footwear were not the norm anyway.

Buddhists, just to name one group, believe that various parts of the body have various levels of sanctity. A good rule of thumb is 'the higher, the holier'. That's why striking--or even touching--a Thai on the head is deemed insulting: the hand is lower than the head.

As you can't, in three dimensions anyway, get any lower than the sole of the foot, that's about as mean an insult as can be offered. Things that touch the sole of the foot (i.e., shoes) become contaminated by contact with the foot, not with what's on the ground beneath the foot.

Tibore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tibore said...

You know what I love about having read this thread? The fact that I now know how to mortally insult a Frenchman. All I need is a box of Eggos. If you think an individually made, hand-crafted, fresh cooked waffle will insult a Frenchman, think of what a mass-produced, machine-crafted, toaster-baked American product would do. The apoplexy induced would be epic!

:D

Jeremy said...

Burgess, this explains why that Ong Bak guy is such a badass. Tony Jaa kicks fools in the head which both decimates AND dishonors them!

David said...

French? Waffle? Yes, even when they are on the attack, the French wafffle.

John Burgess said...

Jeremy: Exactly right.

Muay Thai started out as a martial art, where stripping the dignity of your opponent was only part of the effort.

A rationalization of the shame calculus seems to take place in contemporary kick boxing, however. It's not war, you're not out to kill your opponent, but disgracing him in the ring is still part of the deal. It's just not a mortal disgrace, requiring reaction outside the ring.

Aristides said...

In Texas, we generally throw bullets at high rate of speed.

Lawgiver said...

In Louisiana throwing a half full pint bottle of Wild Turkey is the greatest insult in Cajunland. Wasting perfectly good whiskey is so insulting it's a crime in some parishes.

Lawgiver said...

In Oklahoma booger flicking is about the best they can come up with.