Shoe Thrower Gets Three Years

It should have been three months or time served.
The Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at then-President George W. Bush was convicted Thursday of assaulting a foreign leader and sentenced to three years in prison, lawyers said. He defiantly shouted "long live Iraq" when the sentence was read.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi's bold act in December electrified many across the Middle East who consider him a hero for expressing his anger at a president who is widely disliked for his decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

The 30-year-old journalist pleaded not guilty to the assault charge Thursday, telling the three-judge panel that "what I did was a natural response to the occupation."

Reporters and family members were then ordered out of the courtroom for the verdict, which was relayed to them by defense attorneys and a court official.
People who engage in civil disobedience should expect to serve out their terms. That's part of the point. But this sentence was excessive and meant to squash dissent in Iraq. When you squash out dissent, it festers and boils out in worse ways.

This whole incident displayed one of the very few traits I like about Dubya. He dodged the shoes and shook it off. He kept explaining to the Iraqi government that he didn't care, that he wasn't offended, and all of that was obviously in an effort to mitigate the reaction of the Iraqi government. It didn't stop them from severely beating al-Zeidi or this harsh sentence, but it could have been worse, I suppose.

No one can deny the passion in the man or the passion he aroused. A gesture that viral can't be clamped down on. You've got to err on the side of allowing free expression like this.