A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

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

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Zach Randolph fined $133.333 for finger to fans

Yep, it’s another basketballer giving the finger to the crowd. One more for the collection of insulting gestures caught on camera. This one is recent though (news of December 10). Trail Blazers’ Zach Randolph fouled out and as he walked off the court, he made an “obscene gesture” toward fans behind the scorer’s table.

Is that enough for a $133,333 fine?

His club suspended him for one game-day without pay (equalling a fine of $133,333, or 1/90th of his annual salary of $12 million). Have you ever heard of a higher fine for the finger?

I do not have one in my collection of fines, but there have been jail sentences for gestures, but those are mostly for threatening gestures.

ps. Funny how American news sites never say he gave the finger, or flipped the bird. It is always a vague “obscene gesture”. As though writing it down amount to saying “Fuck You!” out loud.

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’?

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)

The Good, the Bad and the Finger

I just rewatched Top Gun featuring young buck Tom Cruise as a feisty US fighterpilot. In the beginning he gives the finger to a mysterious bogey in a MIG. He is not allowed to pull the trigger so this is how he scares the attacker off:

Uncle Tom Scares of the Enemy How old and widespread is the classical digitus impudicus?

The event becomes part of the plot and the tension between girl Charlie and boy Maverick (scene transcript from IMDb):

Charlie: Eh lieutenant, what were you doing there?
Maverick: Communicating. Keeping up foreign relations. You know, giving him the bird!
Goose: [Charlie looks puzzled, so Goose clarifies] You know, the finger
[gestures appropriately]
Charlie: Yes, I know the finger, Goose.
Goose: I-I’m sorry, I hate it when it does that, I’m sorry. Excuse me.

Dutch Law on Insulting Cops

In the Netherlands we are now the proud owners of some new bits of legislation regarding giving the finger and saying “fuck you” (yes, the English version) to the police. The main point of both rulings is that although the finger and saying “fuck you” are impolite and “not very nice” they are only “insulting” in the legal sense if circumstances make it so.

From the clarification of the verdict: …the court had to judge whether this defendant had “willfully inflicted damage on the policeman’s honour and good name”. For such is the legal description of “insult”…. 

In the “fuck you”-case in question the circumstances were such that the defendant was prevented from reassuring his upset brother by a policeman. He felt powerless and said “fuck you” once to the cop, not using any other verbal insults. Personally I feel that indeed in this case the police seems to have made too big a deal of it. There is no clarification given by the court on the ruling about the finger slipping, other than what appeared in the news.

.. During the announcement of the verdict [the judge] indicated that giving the finger to a policeman is improper, but not insulting… 

The justice department is however appealing against the ruling that many Dutch people were surprised about (indicating in my opinion that most people will feel that the finger is an insult and should not be given to policeman).

The justice officer, Rogier Raat commented: “Justice [dept] does not agree with this ruling and will appeal. In my opinion the gesture that means “fuck you” is definitely insulting for policemen. […] In this case the defendant even looked the officer straight in his eyes when he raised his middle finger.” 

London Police Finger

Fuck you too, mate! (source)

And Police Chief Piet Deelman calls the ruling ‘absurd’. “This ruling deviates from other rulings in the country. Giving a policeman the finger is certainly not intended as a kind greeting. It also damages the respect given to officers and the authority we wish to project unto the street. Officers that book these offences as insults are really insulted by them. That is why we will continue to book anyone who feel they must insult an officer in this way. We encourage the Justice department in their appeal.” 

Interestingly, while the Dutch are evaluating whether the finger consitutes a legal “insult”, the good people of Pennsylvania evaluated whether the same finger constituted a legal “obscenity” or whether it should fall under the right to free speech. In both cases specific circumstances (in the Pennsylvanian case ‘a clearly sexual context’) were found necessary to verify an offense.

Whore giving finger

Insult, obscenity, neither or both?

The difference in morality between the Netherlands and Pennsylvania is striking. Do we care less about sexually charged behavior? Or do Pennsylvanians care less about respect? One day, I will have to run a study on these important matters.

Update 22 feb ’07: A Dutch man got a 250 euro fine for calling a policeman a ‘strontzak’ (english: ‘[bag] full of shit’)

M.I.A. Doesn’t Give a Shit, Flips the Bird

Another nice gesture story in the news, although, sadly, it is once again about a performer giving the finger. This time it is the artist M.I.A..

M.I.A. giving the finger during Superbowl 46
M.I.A. giving everyone the finger during Superbowl 46 (Source BBC news – Getty Images)

Wikipedia (always good with the bare facts):
While performing with Madonna at the Super Bowl 46, M.I.A. gave the middle finger to a camera just before a cutaway during the halftime show. The gesture came during a performance of Madonna’s new single, “Give Me All Your Luvin’.” At the end of her lines, M.I.A. sang, “I don’t give a ***t.” The incident prompted apologies to be issued by NBC and the NFL.


A video of the incident (source Business Insider, hope they keep the video up)

One somewhat interesting element of the story is that apparently the gesture wasn’t picked up by the people responsible for detecting inappropriate stuff in the ‘delay system’. Well, it is fairly quick, but still easy to see. But then again, there is so much to see on the stage that perhaps they missed because they were looking at other things.

Even more Garfield Gesture

Browsing through Garfield comics always make me smile, partly because of the nice gestures Jim Davis draws to convey Garfield’s communication.

  • Cheer with two arms in the air
  • Two hands wringing together in joyous glee
  • Garfield and Odie point Jon to his proper place in the universe; Jon makes a ‘Bah’ gesture
  • Jon reinforces a self-reference with a thumb point
  • Odie whistles innocently
  • Silent triadic communication between Garfield, A Nightmarish Remote Control, and his friend the Garage Door Opener

And here is an old but nice story about a woman sueing a fast food restaurant that gave her kid a Garfield toy that appears to be giving the finger.

Toy Garfield giving the finger

Toy Garfield giving the finger

Funnily, a spokesperson for the restaurant defends as follows:

“It is Garfield’s paw, people should not read anymore into it. Garfield is a cartoon cat that doesn’t have fingers but paws.”

Well, I beg to differ…

Earlier lists: here, here, and here. Or just search for Garfield in the search box.

Japanese Body Language

I did this video for my culture project and thought some of you would be interested in seeing it.
I’m sorry for giving you the finger 😛

Wanker Gesture Lands Lawyer in Jail

The Wanker gesture is the second most often occuring gesture in the news, with giving the finger a mile in the lead. In third place is the ‘fuck-you’ forearm jerk. What do these have in common? They are insults, and unexpected insults are apparently very newsworthy.

Wanker gesture
(source: Wikipedia)

The latest wanker case comes from the Austin, Texas, US…

From Keyetv.com: Travis County Court at Law #6 Judge Jan Breland put Adam Reposa into jail after he made what is described in court documents as “…a simulated masturbatory gesture with his hand while making eye contact with the Court…”

Van Bommel Overdoing Sarcastic Gestures

Mark van Bommel is a Dutch football player who plays for Bayern Munich. He is also a bit of a drama queen, who already supplied us with a decent little gesture scandal before. After already being fined 6200 euro for making a ‘fuck you’ gesture (forearem jerk) to the crowds at Real Madrid’s Bernabeu stadium, he repeated the gesture (now dubbed ‘doing a Van Bommel’) in the final minutes against Hamburg, this time insulting the referee. This time he got an extra two match ban and a 15000 euro fine (compare other fines) What sort of fine would be enough to stop him?

Van Bommel’s little theatrical performance includes some sarcastic clapping. There is an interesting piece by Steve Tomkins on the correct and incorrect application of sarcasm. He also has some cases of football players clapping sarcastically. In a lovely cool sarcastic style Tomkins sets out to explain why sarcasm is not necessarily rude. If done correctly sarcasm can deliver venomous bites. The key lies in not overdoing what you say or how you gesture, and in the inclusion of a pinch of humour. Obviously, if your victim really did or said something stupid it will make sarcasm succeed easily (your victim can’t get angry because he is too busy being ashamed).

In this case, Van Bommel overdoes the sarcasm. First, the referee is always right, so he is free to get angry, and indeed he responds by showing the red card. In such a case one must leave room for innocent interpretations to hide behind. If one simply keeps a straight face and claps twice it can always be explained as saying ‘good call, ref!’. The fans in the stadium will understand the sarcasm but there will not be enough evidence to punish you. I think that in most cases even the slightest hint of sarcasm will be enough for other people to pick up the message. We humans are so sensitive to insults. Often the mere context will make a straightforward interpretation of an innocent phrase that is intended as sarcasm very unlikely.

Him: “did you watch the game yesterday?” (your team lost 2-0 to his, the bastard)
You: “yes, great game for the neutral spectators” (it was a teeth-grinding muddy fight)
Him: “we gave your lot a good whipping, hey?” (obnoxious little fella, everyone could tell the ref wrongly sent a man off after ten minutes)
You: “yes, a victory well deserved. They are really on fire these last few weeks aren’t they?” (they only had one win against a second division club and three losses)

Every knowledgeable bystander (or at least those you care about) will get your point from the context. But in comparison to your obnoxious colleague you appear to be gracious about it all. He may or may not spot your sarcasm but he has no good option to respond. He can either take your words literally and be a fool, or he can acknowledge your sarcasm and respond to the unspoken allegations (that it was an ugly match, an undeserved victory and a team that sucks anyway). The latter choice will have him on the defensive (“I thought it was a proper red card for hands”) in which case you can turn up the sarcasm (“of course, he should have stopped the ball with his genitals”).

ps. Thanks to Elif for the link to Tomkin’s piece

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