Scalia And The Hermeneutics of Chin Flips - U2 Feedback

Go Back   U2 Feedback > Lypton Village > Free Your Mind > Free Your Mind Archive
Click Here to Login
 
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 03-31-2006, 08:53 AM   #1
Forum Moderator
 
yolland's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 7,471
Local Time: 04:30 PM
Scalia And The Hermeneutics of Chin Flips

To see the full original article, complete with copious links, click here.
Quote:
How Do You Solve the Problem of Scalia?
The razor-thin line between obscenity and bad judgment.


By Dahlia Lithwick
slate.com, March 30, 2006


Leave it to Justice Antonin Scalia to trigger a nationwide debate about the hermeneutics of chin flips.

But first, a brief glance at the procedural history: It's undisputed that a newspaper reporter approached Scalia as he left a special "Red Mass" for lawyers and politicians at Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross. It's also not disputed that when the reporter, Laurel Sweet, asked what Scalia had to say to critics who question his impartiality in light of his Roman Catholic beliefs, he offered a familiar hand gesture, adding, "You know what I say to those people?" and, evidently by way of explanation, "That's Sicilian."

Where the parties differ is regarding the meaning of the gesture in question. The Boston Herald initially characterized it as "obscene." Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg carefully described it, by contrast, as "a hand off the chin gesture that was meant to be dismissive," but not obscene.

The lower courts immediately issued conflicting opinions: Evidently in some jurisdictions, the chin flick "is a gesture of contempt, somewhat less rude than giving a person 'the finger.' When used in the United States, it usually means 'Bug off, I've had enough of you.' Not a polite gesture, but not a particularly hostile one, either," according to one blog. A concurrence by Wonkette (complete with an illustrated appendix) reached a similarly benign conclusion: "Justice Scalia's gesture wasn't a full-fledged flipping of the proverbial bird. But it still wasn't exactly the most polite of actions; in some quarters, it could be interpreted as pretty darn close to giving someone the middle finger." Dissenters disagreed, finding that the gesture, whether chin flip, finger, or otherwise, is improper. The "thought of flipping somebody off in church, minutes after receiving the Eucharist, is just, well, beyond shocking, insulting, infuriating."

The issue might have died there—with a largely amused nation in good-natured agreement that the equivocal gesture was par for the course for Scalia's usual belligerence and bombast—were it not for his interlocutory appeal, filed yesterday with the Boston Herald. In a surprising (though not unprecedented) letter to the editor, Scalia disputes the finding that the alleged gesture was "obscene." Dismissing the reporter as "an up-and-coming 'gotcha' star" (and inserting some trademark Scalia wordplay involving her name—"o-so-sweetly") the justice clarified that the gesture was limited to "fanning the fingers of my right hand under my chin." Fanning. Not flipping. Please take note of the significant legal distinction.

Scalia goes on to cite Luigi Barzini's book The Italians (query whether this constitutes the citation of foreign law) and pleads that "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."

Scalia goes on to accuse Sweet of leaping to ethnic-slur conclusions: "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.' " This in turn led to the Herald's decision to empanel a grand jury of Sopranos actors in order to shed further light on the meaning of the hand flip in question. Again, however, unanimity was impossible to achieve: "It's an obscenity," Joseph Gannascoli, who plays capo Vito Spatafore, opined. "It's not like grabbing your crotch, not that bad an obscenity...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."

Not so, said John Fiore, who played Sopranos capo Gigi Cestone. "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." Black's Law Dictionary contains no definition of "the hairy eyeball," nor does Title 18 of the U.S. Code.

Concurring in Fiore's result, but offering a separate opinion, was Steve Schirripa, who plays Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri: "Ah, I think he meant 'to hell with ya.' " Frank Santorelli, who plays Bada Bing bartender Georgie, joined with the plurality: "It's kind of a light gesture … not a vicious one. It's not as bad as the (middle) finger."

The editors at the Boston Herald then tried to amend their pleading, styling the late filing as within their right to "get the last word." Obliquely referencing the Fiore dissent, the Herald conceded that the gesture at issue may not have been obscene, but added—in what is surely dicta—"Maybe so, but it's still not something you'd do to your mother." They appended to the record the photographic evidence of the gesture in question and the testimony of the photojournalist who snapped the shot, to wit: "The judge paused for a second, then looked directly into my lens and said, 'To my critics, I say, 'Vaffanculo.' " The Herald helpfully translates, "(expletive) you."
Oy.

Personally, I think the most interesting aspect of this story is perusing the various blogosphere takes on it and, especially, noting the comments posted by various readers offering their own take on what the gesture means "where I come from." One can't help wondering if the Herald or Scalia--or both, or neither--are perhaps guilty of capitalizing on the rampant confusion here. One blog I saw attempted to provide a definitive map of the various meanings this gesture has in different Mediterranean regions, claiming among other things that in Greece it means "That's not true." This may be broadly correct, but when my Greek-Jewish mother and her friends, at least, use it, I would say the meaning is more like "Bull.Fucking.Shit."

In any event, we should probably all learn how to make this gesture since all this publicity seems guaranteed to make it de rigeur for awhile.
__________________

__________________
yolland [at] interference.com


μελετώ αποτυγχάνειν. -- Διογένης της Σινώπης
yolland is offline  
Old 03-31-2006, 08:58 AM   #2
Blue Crack Addict
 
MrsSpringsteen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 24,984
Local Time: 10:30 AM
Yes I posted about this but no one seemed to care



Boston Herald


A freelance photographer has been fired by the Archdiocese of Boston’s newspaper for releasing a picture of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia making a controversial gesture in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Sunday.

Peter Smith, who had freelanced for The Pilot newspaper for a decade, lost the job yesterday after the Herald ran his photo on its front page. Smith said he has no regrets about releasing it.

“I did the right thing. I did the ethical thing,” said Smith, 51, an assistant photojournalism professor at Boston University.

Smith snapped the photo of Scalia flicking his hand under his chin after a Herald reporter asked the conservative jurist his response to people who question his impartiality on matters of church and state.

Smith wouldn’t give up the photo earlier this week but chose to release it when he learned Scalia said his gesture had been incorrectly characterized by the Herald. Smith, who was standing in front of the judge, said the Herald “got the story right.”

Smith said the Pilot had an obligation at that point “to bring some clarity to it.”

“I felt that same obligation,” Smith said. “I had to say what I knew and come forward with it..”

The weekly Catholic newspaper made a “journalistic decision” not to run or release the photo, said Archdiocese spokesman Terry Donilon. “Because he breached that trust with the editor, we will no longer engage his services as a freelance photographer,” Donilon said.

“It’s nothing personal,” added Pilot editor Antonio Enrique. “I need to try and find people I can trust.”

While news outlets from across the country sought Smith’s photo yesterday, the archdiocese said there’s no proof that Scalia uttered an obsenity in the church. Smith said Scalia said, “To my critics, I say, ‘Vaffanculo,’ ” while making the gesture. That’s Italian for (expletive) you.

“It was pretty clear,” Smith said yesterday. A Herald reporter who was nearby did not hear that utterance.
__________________

__________________
MrsSpringsteen is offline  
Old 03-31-2006, 09:14 AM   #3
Forum Moderator
 
yolland's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 7,471
Local Time: 04:30 PM
Whoops sorry, I saw your initial post about "unplugged" but missed your followup post on this story. Well see, when there's profanity involved, you've gotta put it front and center!
__________________
yolland [at] interference.com


μελετώ αποτυγχάνειν. -- Διογένης της Σινώπης
yolland is offline  
Old 03-31-2006, 09:19 AM   #4
Blue Crack Addict
 
MrsSpringsteen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 24,984
Local Time: 10:30 AM
No problem, I really wasn't meaning to point that out ..nevermind

And after seeing that video of him on the Situation Room I would have no problem believing he could utter a profanity in a church. Oh well, one time I heard my Pastor say shit in church he's not a SC justice, he's just a wee bit out there
__________________
MrsSpringsteen is offline  
Old 03-31-2006, 10:15 AM   #5
Blue Crack Supplier
 
Irvine511's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 30,493
Local Time: 10:30 AM
does anyone act less like a judge, and more like a minor Eastern European despot, than Scalia?
__________________
Irvine511 is offline  
Old 03-31-2006, 10:30 AM   #6
ONE
love, blood, life
 
MrBrau1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Verplexed in Vermont
Posts: 10,436
Local Time: 10:30 AM
My Italian Grandma used to do that.

It was her way if giving the finger.
__________________
"If you needed my autograph, I'd give it to you." Bob Dylan
MrBrau1 is offline  
Old 03-31-2006, 10:54 PM   #7
Blue Crack Addict
 
nbcrusader's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Southern California
Posts: 22,071
Local Time: 07:30 AM
I thought we lost our strong love for decorum from our officials years ago.
__________________

__________________
nbcrusader is offline  
 

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:30 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Design, images and all things inclusive copyright © Interference.com