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Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Hullabaloo Over Gestures? And I Thought The Media Reported On Important Things ...

Silly me for thinking such a thing. As a blogger I ought to know better. But the MSM should know better than to make a mountain out of, well, a molehill. It seems that the Boston Herald decided to throw a tizzy over Justice Antonin Scalia's hand gesture to a reporter. Here is the Herald's story from Monday:

Minutes after receiving the Eucharist at a special Mass for lawyers and politicians at Cathedral of the Holy Cross, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had a special blessing of his own for those who question his impartiality when it comes to matters of church and state.

“You know what I say to those people?” Scalia, 70, replied, making an obscene gesture, flicking his hand under his chin when asked by a Herald reporter if he fends off a lot of flak for publicly celebrating his conservative Roman Catholic beliefs.

“That’s Sicilian,” the Italian jurist said, interpreting for the “Sopranos” challenged.

“It’s none of their business,” continued Scalia, who was the keynote speaker at yesterday’s Catholic Lawyers’ Guild luncheon. “This is my spiritual life. I shall lead it the way I like.”

The conduct unbecoming a 20-year veteran of the country’s highest court - and just feet from the Mother Church’s altar - was captured by a photographer for the Archdiocese of Boston newspaper The Pilot, whose publisher is newly minted Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

Although one of his sworn duties is to uphold the freedom of the press, a jocular Scalia told the shutterbug, “Don’t publish that.”

And are we surprised that Justice Scalia responded to the barking moonbats at the Herald?

To the Editor:

It has come to my attention that your newspaper published a story on Monday stating that I made an obscene gesture — inside Holy Cross Cathedral, no less. The story is false, and I ask that you publish this letter in full to set the record straight.

Your reporter, an up-and-coming “gotcha” star named Laurel J. Sweet, asked me (o-so-sweetly) what I said to those people who objected to my taking part in such public religious ceremonies as the Red Mass I had just attended. I responded, jocularly, with a gesture that consisted of fanning the fingers of my right hand under my chin. Seeing that she did not understand, I said “That’s Sicilian,” and explained its meaning — which was that I could not care less.
That this is in fact the import of the gesture was nicely explained and exemplified in a book that was very popular some years ago, Luigi Barzini’s The Italians:

“The extended fingers of one hand moving slowly back and forth under the raised chin means: ‘I couldn’t care less. It’s no business of mine. Count me out.’ This is the gesture made in 1860 by the grandfather of Signor O.O. of Messina as an answer to Garibaldi. The general, who had conquered Sicily with his volunteers and was moving on to the mainland, had seen him, a robust youth at the time, dozing on a little stone wall, in the shadow of a carob tree, along a country lane. He reined in his horse and asked him: ‘Young man, will you not join us in our fight to free our brothers in Southern Italy from the bloody tyranny of the Bourbon kings? How can you sleep when your country needs you? Awake and to arms!’ The young man silently made the gesture. Garibaldi spurred his horse on.” (Page 63.)

How could your reporter leap to the conclusion (contrary to my explanation) that the gesture was obscene? Alas, the explanation is evident in the following line from her article: “‘That’s Sicilian,’ the Italian jurist said, interpreting for the ‘Sopranos’ challenged.” From watching too many episodes of the Sopranos, your staff seems to have acquired the belief that any Sicilian gesture is obscene — especially when made by an “Italian jurist.” (I am, by the way, an American jurist.)


Antonin Scalia

Go Nino! You tell 'em. And is it any surprise that the Herald screwed up the story to begin with? Eugene Volokh lets us in on the misrepresented story. The UPI link doesn't have the cached page any longer.

UPI originally reported that "U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia startled reporters in Boston just minutes after attending a mass, by flipping a middle finger to his critics." It then revised the story to say that "U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia startled reporters in Boston just minutes after attending a mass, by making a hand gesture some consider obscene." Other media outlets may have done the same; UPI is just the first that I had found. I had originally heard the "flipping a middle finger" story myself.

I'm sorry, but Scalia giving the brush-off hand gesture is hardly newsworthy. But the Herald made a big deal out of nothing. And, of course, this comes at a time where Justice Scalia just gave a recent speech at Hugh Hewitt's college, Chapman University, regarding the politicization of the judical nomination process. Carol Platt Liebau has the overview of that speech.

It's coming down to the nitty-gritty regarding the confirmation process. The Democrats are clearly up against a wall on this subject. Their obstructionism has continued, despite the paltry efforts of the GOP to stop it. The Gang of 14 deal is clearly not being adhered to, as was evident last week when Judge Henry Sadd finally withdrew himself from the process--fed up with languishing for over two years awaiting his vote. The same applies to people like Brett Kavanaugh who is still waiting for his vote on the Senate floor, but can't seem to make it out of committee. The Democrats know that the more "constructionist" oriented jurists that reach the bench, the harder it will be for them to push their agenda. That's how it should be as agendas require legislation, not jurisprudential decisions from unelected judges.

The Herald has succeeded, once again, in showing that is has absolutely no clue what it means to report "important" news. Instead, they have to take the tabloid route, and try to make a scandal out of an insignificant gesture.

Publius II


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