Muntazer el Zaydi jailed – crime against journalism

March 13, 2009

The jailing of Iraqi journalist Muntazer al Zaidi for throwing his shoes at former US President George W Bush is a crime against journalism.

el-zaydi-main

A hero of Iraq

A poll released today, commissioned by ABC News and the BBC, suggests 62% of Iraqis regard the shoe-thrower as a hero. Twenty-four percent of respondents saw him as a criminal who had assaulted a visiting head of state.

Outside the court, Mohammed Ali, a childhood friend of Zaidi, said: “His act was not a crime but one of defiance. When he is eventually released I expect Muntazer could change his career and become a politician.” The Guardian’s story today.

There’s also a longer profile piece about the reporter, who has become a hero to many Iraqis.

There is an online petition at the Petition Site which is aiming for 1000 signatures. When I signed there were 57 so get on over there and do your bit.

The International Federation of Journalists has condemned the three year sentece as “disproportional”:

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has protested over the disproportionate decision of an Iraqi court which sentenced television journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi to three years in jail for throwing his shoes at former American president George W. Bush in December last year.

“This sentence is hugely out of proportion,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The journalist made a serious mistake, but it was something that should have been properly dealt with internally and not brought before the courts at all. The Iraqi response is regrettable and we urge that there is clemency and his sentence is reduced on appeal.” [IFEX Update 12 March]

However, I disagree that Muntazer made a “serious mistake”. He was doing something that millions of us have fantasized about – expressing our hatred of the despotic Bush regime and its war criminal leadership.

Reporters Without Borders has also issued a statement condemning the sentence as harsh:

“We obviously regret that Zaidi chose this way to protest against the President Bush’s policies but there is no justification for this prison sentence,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The sentence is cynical in a country where so many of the people who kill journalists are never brought to justice. We call for his release.”  [Reporters Without Borders]

Sorry, but I don’t share this regret. My regret is that Muntazer is in jail.

There’s a nice post on this at Woolly Days.


Shoe-throwing should be an Olympic sport

January 7, 2009

I am loving the way that throwing shoes at things you don’t like has taken off like a cool piece of countercultural viral marketing.

In Ashland, Oregon, on the crazy northwest fringe of the USA, a city councillor and local shit-stirrer has set up an installation in an art gallery with an 8ft caricature of Dubya and has been hurling shoes at it. Members of the public were encouraged to have a go. It looks like fun.

I’m all in favour of modern art with a purpose. It seems Eric Navickas is a bit of a maverick, even in these maverick parts of the US.

Meanwhile, the trial of Muntadhar al-Zeidi, the Iraqi journalist who started the shoe-throwing craze by actually throwing his shoes at George W Bush in Baghdad a few weeks ago, has been postponed.


Four interesting items in the New York Times

September 12, 2008

I picked up the New York Times yesterday, it’s a thinsheet too, like the LA Times.I ripped out four pages from the newspaper, only one of them was a piece of journalism.

Columnist Bob Herbert wrote a great piece about the proud achievements of what Americans coyly call “liberals”. That is US citizens with a modicum of intelligence and a social conscience.  I put that last bit in there to distinguish them from intelligent conservatives-they’re the ones who know they’re f&8k9nG the rest of us over and get sadistic pleasure from it. They’re the ones who know it’s torture, think it’s OK and actually enjoy it being done to “terrrrists”.

Herbert’s column’s called “Hold your heads up” and it argues well that American liberals should be proud of who they are and not ashamed to be identified as liberals, even though it’s a swear word in the red states.

The other stuff I pulled was a series of interesting display ads.

[dribblejaws alert-you should go here]

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Georgia on my mind – gangsters, oil and blood

August 16, 2008

Warning: this post contains some AO language and is not really about taxi drivers at all.

I have a lot of respect for cab drivers. Most of the time they’re really well-educated and they’re all very, very  street-smart. Last night I got a ride home with Ahmad. He’s from Afghanistan and he was listening to the BBC World Service.

There were items about the conflict in Georgia and so we got to talking. It was quite funny to realise that my chat with Ahmad was the perfect dessert to my main course argument with my colleague Wayne at the Brooklyn.

Wayne and I had been talking about Russia, Georgia, gangster capitalism, transnationals and failed or failing states. Ahmad segued straight into that line of thinking off the back of the World Service reports from Georgia. Ahmad has been all over the world. He thinks the Russians are crazy and hates the American presence in his homeland. There’s a nice, balanced logic to his position and I’m instantly drawn to a stranger who’s making my journey smooth on a soggy Auckland night.

My conversations with Wayne and Ahmad  led to this little tome: gangster capitalism, the looming resource wars and ‘regime change’.

What happens when you give gangsters access to new-killer weapons of mass distraction?

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Fuck Bush – not in this town!

October 3, 2007

Student paper headline ignites US free speech row | Press&publishing | MediaGuardian.co.uk

The editor of a student newspaper at Colorado State University is facing disciplinary charges at his university for publishing an edition of the Rocky Mountain Collegian with a front page banner headline that read: “Fuck Bush”.

The case has become a test of the First Amendment right to free speech and the incident caused advertisers to pull material (and money from the paper). Here’s a piece of the action from Editor & Publisher:

Student officials and faculty adviser Jeff Browne told the CSU board that since the editorial ran, 18 advertisers have either called to pull their advertising or threatened to end their advertising in the newspaper, which could result in some $50,000 in potential lost revenue. Officials have said that staff would have to take an across-the-board 10 percent pay cut to make up for the losses, which cut into the $950,000 advertising budget. Browne said some staff members, including a photographer, have quit.

The newspaper maintains an office on school grounds but is self-funded through advertising.

In a written statement submitted to the board, McSwane said: “We’ve lost advertising dollars. While this is a blow to our organization, I would also encourage the Board to remember that advertising dollars, though crucial, should not control editorial content.”

School policies governing student media state that students cannot publish obscene materials but that “indecent or vulgar language is not obscene.” Landers noted that the same policy prohibits the use of obscene and vulgar language in editorials.

Personally, I think 20-year-old David McSwane is a hero. But in the blogosphere, he has friends, supporters, and enemies; in particular college Republicans.

I think it’s amusing that so many Republican bloggers can get upset about one little word – a “profanity” to use their colloquial term for the word FUCK, but they can still share the love with that asshole of a president and his filthy rich chums from the Blackwater security company who are paid a billion dollars a year to terrorise and murder Iraqis.

However, it’s not the first time that David McSwane’s journalistic antics have got him into trouble, or rather, into the national headlines.

He scammed a great story for his high school newspaper in 2005 that led to several US army recruiters being stood down in after a sting operation involving McSwane’s younger brother, a video camcorder and drug paraphenalia.

Here’s more on that story from Editor & Publisher

Teen Journo Draws Fire After Army Sting

By Graham Webster

Published: July 25, 2005 4:23 PM ET
NEW YORK David McSwane had seen the military recruiters around town. He had seen them at the high school. And he knew that with recruitment rates down due to the Iraq war, they were working hard to attract new cadets. And it gave him an idea.

“I wanted to see how far they’d go to get another soldier,” says McSwane, a reporter for the Westwind at Arvada West High School in Arvada, Colo. So he set up a sting investigation, posing as a high school dropout with a marijuana habit and went down to his local Colorado Army recruitment station to enlist.

McSwane, 17, knew he would have to document his conversations with the recruiters, so he taped the telephone conversations, enlisted his sister to pose as a proud sibling so she could photograph parts of the process, and asked a friend to operate a video camera across from a local head shop.

But how did McSwane get an recruiter to visit a head shop with him? Simple. The honor student, pretending to have a ganja habit he couldn’t kick, went there to score a detoxifying kit the Army office claimed had helped two previous recruits pass drug tests, according to a taped phone conversation broadcast on local TV. McSwane told his recruiter he didn’t know what the detox formula looked like, so the man agreed to go to the store with him.

I like this guy’s style and nerve. If I had a student like David McSwayne in my journalism class, he’d have my support. So David, if you get kicked out of college, come down to Auckland, I’ll find room for you here.’

Just to finish, the profanity in question is defined thus in the online dictionary, dictionary.com


fuck
[fuhk] Pronunciation KeyShow IPA Pronunciation Vulgar.

–verb (used with object)

1. to have sexual intercourse with.
2. Slang. to treat unfairly or harshly.

–verb (used without object)

3. to have sexual intercourse.
4. Slang. to meddle (usually fol. by around or with).

–interjection

5. Slang. (used to express anger, disgust, peremptory rejection, etc., often fol. by a pronoun, as you or it.)

–noun

6. an act of sexual intercourse.
7. a partner in sexual intercourse.
8. Slang. a person, esp. one who is annoying or contemptible.
9. the fuck, Slang. (used as an intensifier, esp. with WH-questions, to express annoyance, impatience, etc.)

10. fuck around, Slang.

a. to behave in a frivolous or meddlesome way.
b. to engage in promiscuous sex.
11. fuck off, Slang.

a. to shirk one’s duty; malinger.
b. go away: used as an exclamation of impatience.
c. to waste time.
12. fuck up, Slang.

a. to bungle or botch; ruin.
b. to act stupidly or carelessly; cause trouble; mess up.

13. give a fuck, Slang. to care; be concerned.

[Origin: 1495–1505; akin to MD fokken to thrust, copulate with, Sw dial. focka to copulate with, strike, push, fock penis]

fucky, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

American Heritage DictionaryCite This SourceShare This

fuck (fŭk) Pronunciation Key
v. fucked, fuck·ing, fucks

v. tr.

  1. To have sexual intercourse with.
  2. To take advantage of, betray, or cheat; victimize.
  3. Used in the imperative as a signal of angry dismissal.

v. intr.

  1. To engage in sexual intercourse.
  2. To act wastefully or foolishly.
  3. To interfere; meddle. Often used with with.

n.

  1. An act of sexual intercourse.
  2. A partner in sexual intercourse.
  3. A despised person.
  4. Used as an intensive: What the fuck did you do that for?

interj. Used to express extreme displeasure.

Phrasal Verb(s):
fuck off

  1. Used in the imperative as a signal of angry dismissal.
  2. To spend time idly.
  3. To masturbate.

fuck over
To treat unfairly; take advantage of.
fuck up

  1. To make a mistake; bungle something.
  2. To act carelessly, foolishly, or incorrectly.
  3. To cause to be intoxicated.


[Middle English, attested in pseudo-Latin fuccant, (they) fuck, deciphered from gxddbov.]

Word History: The obscenity fuck is a very old word and has been considered shocking from the first, though it is seen in print much more often now than in the past. Its first known occurrence, in code because of its unacceptability, is in a poem composed in a mixture of Latin and English sometime before 1500. The poem, which satirizes the Carmelite friars of Cambridge, England, takes its title, “Flen flyys,” from the first words of its opening line, “Flen, flyys, and freris,” that is, “fleas, flies, and friars.” The line that contains fuck reads “Non sunt in coeli, quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk.” The Latin words “Non sunt in coeli, quia,” mean “they [the friars] are not in heaven, since.” The code “gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk” is easily broken by simply substituting the preceding letter in the alphabet, keeping in mind differences in the alphabet and in spelling between then and now: i was then used for both i and j; v was used for both u and v; and vv was used for w. This yields “fvccant [a fake Latin form] vvivys of heli.” The whole thus reads in translation: “They are not in heaven because they fuck wives of Ely [a town near Cambridge].”

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The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Online Etymology DictionaryCite This SourceShare This
fuck

a difficult word to trace, in part because it was taboo to the editors of the original OED when the “F” volume was compiled, 1893-97. Written form only attested from early 16c. OED 2nd edition cites 1503, in the form fukkit; earliest appearance of current spelling is 1535 — “Bischops … may fuck thair fill and be vnmaryit” [Sir David Lyndesay, “Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaits”], but presumably it is a much more ancient word than that, simply one that wasn’t likely to be written in the kind of texts that have survived from O.E. and M.E. Buck cites proper name John le Fucker from 1278. The word apparently is hinted at in a scurrilous 15c. poem, titled “Flen flyys,” written in bastard L. and M.E. The relevant line reads:

Non sunt in celi
quia fuccant uuiuys of heli

“They [the monks] are not in heaven because they fuck the wives of Ely.” Fuccant is pseudo-L., and in the original it is written in cipher. The earliest examples of the word otherwise are from Scottish, which suggests a Scandinavian origin, perhaps from a word akin to Norw. dial. fukka “copulate,” or Swedish dial. focka “copulate, strike, push,” and fock “penis.” Another theory traces it to M.E. fkye, fike “move restlessly, fidget,” which also meant “dally, flirt,” and probably is from a general North Sea Gmc. word, cf. M.Du. fokken, Ger. ficken “fuck,” earlier “make quick movements to and fro, flick,” still earlier “itch, scratch;” the vulgar sense attested from 16c. This would parallel in sense the usual M.E. slang term for “have sexual intercourse,” swive, from O.E. swifan “to move lightly over, sweep” (see swivel). Chronology and phonology rule out Shipley’s attempt to derive it from M.E. firk “to press hard, beat.” As a noun, it dates from 1680. French foutre and Italian fottere look like the Eng. word but are unrelated, derived rather from L. futuere, which is perhaps from PIE base *bhau(t)- “knock, strike off,” extended via a figurative use “from the sexual application of violent action” [Shipley; cf. the sexual slang use of bang, etc.]. Popular and Internet derivations from acronyms (and the “pluck yew” fable) are merely ingenious trifling. The O.E. word was hæman, from ham “dwelling, home,” with a sense of “take home, co-habit.” Fuck was outlawed in print in England (by the Obscene Publications Act, 1857) and the U.S. (by the Comstock Act, 1873). The word may have been shunned in print, but it continued in conversation, especially among soldiers during WWI.

“It became so common that an effective way for the soldier to express this emotion was to omit this word. Thus if a sergeant sai

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper

WordNetCite This SourceShare This

fuck
noun
1. slang for sexual intercourse
verb
1. have sexual intercourse with; “This student sleeps with everyone in her dorm”; “Adam knew Eve”; “Were you ever intimate with this man?” [syn: sleep together]

WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.