In response to our earlier post about Justice Scalia making an obscene gesture just after attending Mass, a reader sent us this message:
After reading the article, I don’t think it was the bird. Try this:
In the grand scheme of Italian gestures, it’s sorta tame. I have seen it interpreted anywhere from “you’re boring” to “I don’t give a fuck.” Either works here. As my union friends used to say, “What are you gonna do, take away my birthday?”
The Herald article is a little vague, but we’re inclined to agree with this reader: 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. So we will downgrade Nino a few levels on both the vulgarity and coolness scales.
Even after the downgrade, Justice Scalia is still way cooler than any of the other justices. Could you imagine any of his colleagues engaging in such a gesture? Yeah, we didn’t think so. (Of course, the justice most likely to be familiar with such a gesture — Justice Samuel Alito, the other Italian-American member of the Court — is way too mild-mannered to indulge in such behavior.)
Italian Hand Gestures: Gesture 26 [About.com]