Thursday, March 30, 2006


The photographer who took the picture of Antonin Scalia's disputed gesture over the weekend says the original story was right. The Boston Herald has the story and the photo:

..."It's inaccurate and deceptive of him to say there was no vulgarity in the moment," said Peter Smith, the Boston University assistant photojournalism professor who made the shot.

Despite Scalia's insistence that the Sicilian gesture was not offensive and had been incorrectly characterized by the Herald as obscene, the photographer said the newspaper "got the story right."

Smith said the jurist "immediately knew he'd made a mistake, and said, 'You're not going to print that, are you?'" ...

There's a tipoff -- if the gesture meant "I don't care," why would he not want the photo shown?

Smith was working as a freelance photographer for the Boston archdiocese’s weekly newspaper at a special Mass for lawyers Sunday when a Herald reporter asked the justice how he responds to critics who might question his impartiality as a judge given his public worship.

"The judge paused for a second, then looked directly into my lens and said, 'To my critics, I say, 'Vaffanculo,'" punctuating the comment by flicking his right hand out from under his chin, Smith said.

The Italian phrase means "(expletive) you." ...

Yes, that's essentially what it means. (Not work safe.)

(The story does note that the reporter didn't hear the curse.)

Let's go to the image:

That doesn't look like "fanning the fingers of my right hand under my chin." That looks a lot more like the gesture I remember from my childhood -- a quick, sharp, abrupt, angry flick of the fingers past the chin, which was always angry, never indifferent.

By the way, Sopranos stars have mixed opinions about the gesture -- a couple agree that it's not obscene, but Joseph Gannascoli (who plays Vito Spadafore) disagrees:

"It's not like grabbing your crotch, not that bad an obscenity," Gannascoli said. "But it's an obscenity. It's something you would do after paying a bookie, to your bookie, but not something you would do in church."

And John Fiore (Gigi Cestone) says:

"It's not that bad, but I wouldn't do it to my mother. No way. Would I do it in church? These days, maybe. It depends if the priest was giving me the hairy eyeball."

Fair enough.

(Hat tip: JudiPhilly.)


UPDATE: Damn, Atrios beat me to this. And he's not even Italian.

By the way, I can assure you that the Peter Smith's e-mail in-box at BU will be completely filled with hate mail by this afternoon, if it isn't already.


UPDATE: Roger Ailes* speculates on a possible Constitutional crisis.

*The good one.

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