One thing I've found interesting about the incident of the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at GWB recently is the contrast between the reaction from some of the Arab world, where as I understand it shoeing is a strong insult, and Bush's reaction, as described in an AP article by Qassim Abdul-Zahra:
"The president harbors no hard feelings about it, and the Iraqis have a process that they'll follow," [White House press secretary Dana] Perino said. "But he did urge them not to overreact, because he was not bothered by the incident, although it's not appropriate for people to throw shoes at a press conference, at any leader."
We hear all the time about people taking offense at things that weren't intended to give offense. But what about the other way around? What if I issue an insult to you that I consider to be one of the worst possible things I could say about you, but in your culture it's not much of an insult so you shrug it off? (I've seen a statement that shoeing is not actually such a mortal insult; I don't actually know for sure how it's perceived. But regardless, I'm more interested in the general question, about culture-specific insults in general, than in this particular incident.)
To put it another way: if I hear your culture-specific insult of me, but I don't feel insulted, am I disrespecting your culture?
Certainly I'm not saying that Bush should have taken the insult in the spirit in which it was intended. In general, I think not being bothered by insults is a good thing. (No, this is not an invitation to insult me. Although I might wish otherwise, in fact I am bothered by insults.)
But although I liked Bush's response (via Perino), it also struck me as a little oddly dismissive, which led me to ponder the more general question. So I'm curious what y'all think about this general question.
I've been pretty out of touch with the blogosphere lately, so if others have been blogging about this, feel free to point me to such discussions.