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Don't Mess With Scalia

Welcome to Part III of our look at the Boston Herald brouhaha over the allegedly "obscene" gesture made by Justice Scalia (For backstory see Part I and Part II).

In today's episode, poor Herald reporter Laurel J. Sweet discovers what it's like to be publicly taken to task by a Supreme Court Justice who swims in the deep end of the IQ pool:

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 consitsted 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.

[Scalia goes on to quote at length from a book by Luigi Barzini, The Italians, explaining the origins of the gesture.]

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 'Soprano's' Challenged." From watching too many episodes of the Soprano's, 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

Case closed.