A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

Various personal interests and public info, gesture, signs, language, social robotics, healthcare, innovation, music, publications, etc.

Category: World Leaders & Terrorists

Classic: Bush’s One-Fingered Victory Salute

Do not take the following politically. I just wanted to add this case to my collection of famous gestures by public speakers caught on camera. George W. Bush is caught giving the finger in what he calls ‘a one-fingered victory salute’. According to About.com‘s D. Kurtzman this happened in Austin during the later months of Bush’s term as Texas governor. That is almost 8 years ago I think. But still people ask me whether I have seen this video. So here it is.

Which victory was Bush ‘celebrating’?

Pope’s Every Act Perceived as a Gesture

The Pope is visiting Turkey. I put together a fairly random collection of newsflashes from my newsreader to illustrate how his acts have an enormous communicative value. Everything he does is perceived as a gesture of some kind (which is perhaps the most common use of the word gesture, see examples here, here and more). And former cardinal Ratzinger seems to have gained considerable oratory skills, for he is using his gestural power to the max. He knows people will pick it up so he continuously produces small acts like shaking hands, reaching out, waving, smiling, saying nice things, refraining from criticism, and even waving a flag. The last one is hardly a little act, though, but of enormous symbolic value by itself.

Yahoo News

Pope’s trip to Turkey starts on conciliatory note ANKARA (AFP) – Pope Benedict XVI began a delicate mission to Turkey, trading conciliatory gestures with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as both sought to calm the storm unleashed when the pontiff appeared to link Islam to violence.


Pope makes further Muslim-Christian gesture EFES, Turkey (Reuters) – Turkey on Wednesday praised the conciliatory tone of Pope Benedict during his visit to the predominantly Muslim country and his apparent new support for Ankara’s bid to join the European Union.

Turks.US Daily News

Gestures of Goodwill from the Pope in Izmir, Turkey. [..] Pope Benedict XVI visited the Virgin Mary’s house in Ephesus, which is considered sacred by Christians, and presided over mass [..] and waved the Turkish flag given to him at the end the mass. Upon his arrival in Ankara, the pope had hinted that the Vatican supported Turkey’s membership to the European Union, and such gestures of goodwill continued during the mass.

Gulf Times (Qatar)

Benedict XVI makes further Muslim-Christian gestures EFES, Turkey: Turkey yesterday praised the conciliatory tone of Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to the predominantly Muslim country and his apparent new support for Ankara’s bid to join the European Union. 

Sunday Times (ZA)

Pope “wins Turkey’s heart” ISTANBUL – A picture of Pope Benedict XVI waving a Turkish flag was on the front pages of nearly all Turkish newspapers as the pontiff won more praise for his conciliatory gestures during his first trip to a Muslim country.

Catholic Online

Benedict XVI’s ‘Gesture of Love’ ROME, NOV. 30, 2006 (Zenit) – The exchange of visits between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches is a “gesture of love,” says Father Giovanni Cereti, Professor of Ecumenical Theology

Dissecting Mick Bates’ finger in Welsh Assembly

As civilized human beings (which I can tell from my statistics) you may be getting a little annoyed by my frequent posts about fingers in the news. One might say: “Why trumpet the trivial?”. Well, I promise to keep the vulgarity down. But it is hard to ignore gestures hitting the headlines, as public insults caught on camera always do. And often interpreting the events is interesting as well. Reporters will exaggerate the story to make news; the offender defends himself against wrong interpretations and control the damage to his image; political (or other) rivals try to take advantage.

The chairman commands ‘order’, in response (?) Mr Bates jokingly gives a quick finger (source).

The same scramble for news the truth now occurs in the case of Mick Bates who raised his finger in the Welsh Assembly. It happened on Tuesday. A helpful soul put a clip on YouTube Wednesday, and it quickly featured on Guy News. The BCC reported Bates’ apology and defense that same day. And today (Thursday) I am blogging my bit about it. Ah, the wonders of the internet.

Mr Bates stated: “My gesture was not directed at the Presiding Officer, for whom I have enormous respect and affection. […] I was showing Rhodri Glyn Thomas which finger he should use to operate the assembly’s modern push button voting system [..] If anyone has taken offence, then of course I apologise for that.” 

Of course, these words sparked more comments and again different interpretations (was he saying this in earnest or in jest?). Let us assume for a while he said it in a real attempt to defend himself. Bates’ choice of defence is interesting. He challenges two things at once: the perception that the gesture was addressed to Lord Elis-Thomas and that it was in response to the call for order. As far as I can tell he did look at the chairman (though I do not know where Glyn Thomas sits) while making the gesture in precisely the way one does to address it. And the timing is certainly within limits that people may see the gesture as a response to the call for action. It is however unclear which other events are taking place to which it could be connected. I perceive the event as a man wanting to show his disrespect for the chairman, but only to his colleagues. He appears afraid for repercussions so he does it quickly and glances away almost immediately. He continues laughing to camouflage the message of the gesture. His defense is as ambivalent as the gesture. It can be taken as a joke (in which case the insult stands even more strongly) or it can be taken seriously (in which case one would have to have been there to tell if it is plausible). The apology for any offense caused seems a plea of guilt, or rather a failed attempt to allow Elis-Thomas to ignore the gesture without losing face. What is Elis-Thomas to do? He can ignore it and accept the loss of face. Or he can rely on the way it seems to be to himself and his advisors and demand a direct apology that acknowledges the disrespect shown to him. If he was a Prince in Italy I could predict his response. But who knows the ways of the Welsh? Perhaps they are able to see politics as a joke?

Bus driver fired over finger

In never-never-land across the ocean they simply will not put up with it. A mere bus driver giving the president Bush the finger? I think not. The woman must be fired. And so Republican Rep. Dave Reichert called her boss and arranged matters. It is a no-news story that I would not normally dream of bothering you with. Some lady giving some guy the finger, it must happen thousands of times in exactly the same way. But because the lady lost her job and the US media and politicians are whipping up the story in these elections it has become too big to ignore.

The bus was searched and cleaned afterwards

The national guard was called in to secure the bus 🙂 (source)

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