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Foam of protest

The humble pie as an identified flying object of dissent returned. But is the hurled shoe better?

india Updated: Jul 20, 2011 21:11 IST

The next time you commit what standard morality considers wrong, take cover. Never mind the scale, or tempo of those transgressions — whether you pocketed wealth that was never yours, harmed and injured with malice aforethought or coveted another’s spouse. Be prepared to duck behind the furniture or the potted plant. The manoeuvre might not save you from Jehovah’s wrath, but it is sure to save your skin from the projectiles that are often hurled at wrong-doers by those led by instant and impromptu notions of justice. It would definitely help you avert the ‘al-pieda’-like attack on NewsCorp CEO Rupert Murdoch, and spare you the trouble of a foam emergency on your jacket. Or on your wife’s blue toe nails.

The attack on Mr Murdoch, now desperately trying to limit damages caused by the phone hacking scandal, was of course hailed as a successful PR exercise, one that managed to make the predator look like the prey. In getting creamed, Mr Murdoch was in august company too: from Bill Gates to Nicolas Sarkozy to Thomas Friedman, all have had their moment with the humble pie. (We are told, though, that most of them got a

lick of real custard unlike Mr Murdoch who had to be satisfied with the bitter aftertaste of shaving foam.) Of course, the image of Jonathan May-Bowles aka Jonnie Marbles, the self-proclaimed comedian and activist, storming across in black combat trousers with a plate of foam, will have its own comic antecedents, though one may be hard put to find similarities between Mr Murdoch and a Ollie Hardy once the tumult of tumbling plates settle down.

Closer home, the projectiles hurtling across space are often more precise in their objectives. The humble shoe, though rarely in a pair, is the weapon of choice, and have been hurled to humble mighties like George W Bush and mediocres like Congress leader Janardan Dwivedi alike. How we show our displeasure might be innately connected to the culture that nurtures us. And on the face of it, the erring are better off with pies than dirty footwear.