We all know what it means to throw the book at someone, and now it seems that dictionaries will soon have to make space for a new phrase—‘throwing the shoe.’ The origin would be the journalist who threw a shoe at George W Bush a few months ago, and it seems to be becoming a trend now that a journalist in a press conference has hurled a shoe at P Chidambaram. (In a PC, at PC, as it happens.)
The Home Minister was referring to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots when the journalist, Jarnail Singh, asked him a question regarding the CBI clean-chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler.
When Chidambaram averted the question, Jarnail Singh – who works with Hindi daily Dainik Jagaran – threw a shoe at him.
In case you were curious, the shoe missed, which might well lead to informal courses in shoe throwing being conducted in the canteens of journalism schools. Now, what would the phrase ‘throwing the shoe’ actually mean? One possibility: ‘An over-the-top act of protest born out of the frustration of the futility of other forms of protest.’ It could, thus encompass acts that don’t involve shoes at all—though if it involves throwing other things, it could lead to confusion. Like, imagine if a protester throws a TV at a politician, and a journalist reporting it files a report beginning, “In Hazratganj this morning, an irate protester threw the shoe at politician Jagdish Tytler.” And his editor hauls him up.
Editor: Your report begins by saying that some dude threw a shoe. But it turns out that he threw a TV.
Reporter: Yes, sir, that’s a figure of speech.
Editor: Figure of speech, my ass. Which idiot says it is a figure of speech?
Reporter: Sir, I read it on my favourite blog: India Uncut.
Editor: Well, now you will have more time to read your favourite blog. Much more time.
Reporter: [Worried that he’ll be sacked] Sir, please don’t throw the shoe at me!
(Link via email from Gautam.)
Update: I didn’t realize that throwing shoes at politicians has already become a trend, and Wen Jiabao and an Israeli ambassador have had shoes thrown at them recently. I hope this practice doesn’t spread to book launches.