TBT: The Brutal Truth

Thursday, March 30, 2006

ACTIVIST WINGNUT ALERT: Scalia Obsensity Photo Released!

With a tip of the hat to AmericaBlog, the photographer that captured Supreme Court Justice making an obscene jesture in response to a reporter asking him a question has come forward, not only with his take of the story, but the very photograph Justice Scalia initially told him not to publish. The Boston Herald has the lowdown:

Amid a growing national controversy about the gesture U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made Sunday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the freelance photographer who captured the moment has come forward with the picture. “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?’ ”

Scalia’s office yesterday referred questions regarding the flap to Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg, who said a letter Scalia sent Tuesday to the Herald defending his gesture at the cathedral “speaks for itself.”

“He has no further comment,” Arberg said.

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.

I've been around a lot of Italians and Sicilians, even dated a few and been taken home to meet the folks, have dinner, what have you. When that gesture is mixed with "Vaffanculo", it predominatly means either of two things. (1) "Go fuck yourself!" or (2) "Stick it in your ass!" Those are the most popular and, in my experiance, it's usually the last thing said in the whole house before the ass-beating right in the middle of the kitchen or across the dinner table. This isn't always the case among all Italians/Sicilians. Just among the most partisan.

But for a Supreme Court Justice to do this in reponse to a reporter who asked him if another recent outburst by Scalia regarding his stance on due process for war detainees justifiably raises concerns about his impartiality in an upcoming hearing is simply beyond the pale. Not only does Scalia need to recuse himself from that case but he also needs to step down from the bench entirely.


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