Chinese pundit Sima Nan, known for, among other things, spewing anti-America rhetoric despite having no qualms about visiting America and getting his head stuck in a Dulles Airport escalator, was giving a lecture at Hainan University yesterday when he ran into a proverbial buzz saw A student took the microphone, stood up, and began coolly rebuking the man on stage, who grew increasingly agitated as it became clear that many of the cheering students in the auditorium weren’t on his side. At the 2:30 mark, the student hurls his shoe onto the stage — a good 20-yard throw, it seems — drawing more applause.
As of this moment, Sima Nan has not posted about the incident on his blog. His name is now trending at No. 2 on Sina Weibo though, as Tea Leaf Nation’s Liz Carter shows us:
"Sima Nan" trending at #2 on Weibo after the shoe-throwing incident pic.twitter.com/nMpFzJ6i
— Liz Carter (@withoutdoing) October 8, 2012
By no means are the comments all supportive of the shoe-thrower. They include:
@北夷冥顽: You infringe on my freedom. Can I throw a shoe? This child is already this big, doesn’t know what is freedom, doesn’t know what is infringing on freedom…. What are his teachers, parents doing to earn a living? China’s education system built this kind of hoodlum student’s foundations?
@趋势无敌888: Too bad about the shoe, but judging by the applause, it was worthwhile.
@lul416: Those who are following this Weibo should also follow that student! I have a feeling that brother’s gonna have a bad time.
@ELiENRiEN: Sima Nan’s always been a Five Mao stupid cunt, but there’s a problem with throwing a shoe. Even if you don’t agree with someone, you shouldn’t throw a shoe at him. Wouldn’t it be better to leave and leave him with an empty stage?
@李海明Dzznn: Nice throw.
Update, 6:48 pm: Here’s a good article in WSJ that gives some context:
Arguing that Mr. Sima’s Maoist views were a threat to freedom, the student quoted Socrates as a saying the only thing he knew was nothing at all. “The little something I know is that I need freedom,” he continued. “Democracy is one way to protect freedom.”
Mr. Sima interrupted the student to ask whether he had a question, to which the student replied: “My question is, ‘can I throw my shoe?’” To the cheers of a packed auditorium, the student proceeded to do just that, lofting a sneaker toward the podium.
…Mr. Sima joins a short-list of prominent Chinese who have been on the unfortunate end of shoe-hurlings in recent years. Premier Wen Jiabao was target during a 2009 speech at the University of Cambridge. Ren Zhiqiang, one of China’s best-known property moguls and Mr. Sima’s ideological opposite, was the target of two shoes during a 2010 speech.
Following the incident, Mr. Sima took to Sina Corp’s Weibo microblogging platform, where he has more than a half-million followers. He cited the execution of Socrates in ancient Greece, democracy’s birthplace, after a trial on charges of impiety.
“Democracy can also give rise to tyranny,” read one of Mr. Sima’s posts.
Update, 7:17 pm: Here’s the translation we’ve been waiting for, via Oiwan Lam of Global Voices. The student’s remarks:
First I would like to welcome Mr. Sima Nan for coming to Hainan University. I am also a student here. I want to make a few points. First of all, I have read about Socrates, who once said, I know nothing except that I am ignorant. Secondly, I need freedom and democracy is a means to protect freedom. Thirdly, I have to say, your talk against democracy has invaded my freedom. We are not equally able to exercise our freedom of speech. The four points that you have mentioned, I cannot go against them because of political correctness. Even if your talk is not good, you can go back to your hotel. If I argue against it, certainly I will be locked up in a tiny dark room. Please don’t interrupt me. You should have the manners not to interrupt me. Here comes my question, can I throw my shoe at you? As my freedom is harmed in this country, I am here to protect my freedom.
(H/T John Kennedy)