John Kenney: The Shoe Heard Round the World
Hitting someone with a shoe is considered the supreme insult in Iraq. It means that the target is even lower than the shoe, which is always on the ground and dirty.
— The Times, Dec. 15
For scholars of insults, what comes to mind almost immediately after a high-profile insulting incident is the central African nation of Chad, where hitting someone with a pair of pants is the highest form of insult. It means that the target is lower than pants, the hem of which, while not on the ground, is often near the ground and, again, unclean. The only problem with this form of insult is that the thrower then has to retrieve the pants, as he or she had been wearing them.
For many years people threw shorts, but almost no one was offended, as the hem of shorts is a great distance from the ground. “We’re working on new forms of insult, as well as changing our country’s name, which, strangely, is a common first name in California,” said a Chadian cultural attaché. “We need to be taken more seriously.”