Skip to comments.Scalia seeks Justice over gesture
Posted on 03/29/2006 4:46:20 AM PST by billorites
Famously feisty Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia yesterday denied that he made an obscene gesture Sunday inside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, accusing the Herald staff of watching too many Sopranos episodes.
In a letter to the editor, an almost unheard-of step for a Supreme Court justice, Scalia said a reporter misinterpreted the gesture he made when she asked whether his participation in Sundays special Mass for lawyers might cause some people to question his impartiality in matters of church and state.
Your reporter, an up-and-coming gotcha star named Laurel J. Sweet, asked me (o-so-sweetly) what I said to those people. . ., Scalia wrote to Executive Editor Kenneth A. Chandler. 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, Thats Sicilian, and explained its meaning.
In his letter, Scalia goes on to cite Luigi Barzinis book, The Italians: The extended fingers of one hand moving slowly back and forth under the raised chin means: I couldnt care less. Its no business of mine. Count me out.
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.)
Unlike most of his colleagues, Scalia is not shy about taking on the media, and has a penchant for doing so in a way that has caused some critics to question his decorum, if not his maturity.
In 2000, he wrote a letter to the editor of the Legal Times, accusing the Washington weekly of making a mean-spirited attack on his integrity when it reported that he supported allowing federal judges to accept money for speeches.
Scalia called the article Mauronic, an apparent play on the name of Legal Times Supreme Court reporter Tony Mauro.
I was in grade school the last time someone made fun of my name like that, Mauro told the Associated Press at the time.
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 Thats 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 Barzinis The Italians:
The extended fingers of one hand moving slowly back and forth under the raised chin means: I couldnt care less. Its 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: Thats 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.)
That'll leave a mark.
I would consider Laurel J. Sweet to have been publicly spanked.
Smack! Thank you, sir-may I have another?
Liberals always go crazy when the objects of their attacks defend themselves.
This writer has a way of setting up straw men that cause quite a few critic to question her objectivity, if not her intelligence.
Some say that this could be caused by the use of to many hair care products, others are convinced that such snide tactics are cause by a deep seated conviction by the subect that they really are a worthless waste of biological material.
Scalia is just the coolest.
Hey, I'm starting to think that at least one judge is being harrassed and threatened. Of course its the conservative one, Scalia. Being taped and having it released to the press. Going after him with the old "church-state" bogeyman question when he appears in a religious setting.
Well, Sandra Day O'Connor, got anything to say about this.
Looks as though Ms. Sweet just got some sour milk put on her lollipops! Maybe this dipstick will think twice before denigrating another person she disagrees with, but I seriously doubt it. At least Justice Scalia called her hand on it, and kudos to him for having the stones to do it. I wish others had the guts to challenge our media, especially our leaders in Washington.
"Liberals always go crazy when the objects of their attacks defend themselves"
I would consider Scalia's letter not just a defense but a blistering counterattack that exposed in beautifully crafted sentences the typical ignorance shown by graduates of journalism schools.
Totally off the subject but it's times like this I'm reminded of dumba$$ journalists and a long ago press conference between the New York media and a just signed bonus baby QB(astonishing sum of $400,000) for the New York Jets named Joe Willie Namath. One of the smartass NY media asked Namath what he graduated in at Alabama. PE? Basket weaving? "No", Namath replied. "I took journalism. It was easier."
"Mauronic" isn't exactly what I would call all that clever.
It is a bit lowbrow for a Supreme Court Judge.
An up and coming "Gotcha " star. I love that one.
Only thing funnier is the name Laurel J. Sweet.
Does the J. stand for Jerk?
Maybe Mauro and others in the press should go back to grade school for a refresher on the constitution and other founding documents, instead of taking his tiny painful memories of name abuse out on the American public.
LOL! Nice quote from Broadway Joe.
I knew there was a major problem with her story when she "reported" that Scalia had a questioner removed from the AEI speech. I watched it on CSPAN and Scalia did not have anyone removed. Her statement was simply false. Why wouldn't everything else be false if she could get something broadcast nationwide for thousands to see so wrong.
Barzini wrote a book? who knew?
More people should fight back like Scalia did.
Silly me and all this time I thought it was Tattaglia.
Tattaglia's a pimp.
Really...the liberals, ACLU, O'Connor should be all over this writer...but don't hold your breath!
It's news to me that it's not an obscene gesture.