March 31, 2006

HE SURE LOOKS LIKE HE WAS JUST HAVING FUN:


Posted by Orrin Judd at March 31, 2006 7:23 AM
Comments

Unbelievable that this is turning into a major story.

Posted by: AWW at March 31, 2006 8:01 AM

That's not an obscene gesture is it? I thought the original article implied he gave someone the finger. That's not a finger, it's fingers. He's already admitted fingers, but disputed finger.

Posted by: h-man at March 31, 2006 8:12 AM

I'm not up on those wetback gestures, but doesn't it mean the same?

Posted by: oj at March 31, 2006 8:32 AM

Sicilians aren't wetbacks.

Posted by: erp at March 31, 2006 8:38 AM

They were last time the nativists were in full throat....

Posted by: oj at March 31, 2006 8:43 AM

Actually OJ, WOP, Guinea, Dago were the proper insults. Here is a link describing italian hand gestures (you know how their hands go every which away when you're talking to them)

BTW, some say Wop might come from the phrase "with out papers"

Posted by: h-man at March 31, 2006 9:01 AM

It's not an obscene gesture. He's sliding the back of his fingers across his chin. It means (for this site): "Buzz off!"

Posted by: Rick T. at March 31, 2006 9:17 AM

Wop comes from guappo, Italian slang for, politely, "blowhard."

Posted by: joe shropshire at March 31, 2006 9:53 AM

Joe,

I thought that was Paris Hilton's nickname.

Posted by: Genecis at March 31, 2006 10:23 AM

He is more El Guapo than El Guapo!

Posted by: Jefe at March 31, 2006 10:52 AM

joe shropshire:

I always thought it stood for "without papers," since many of the immigrants didn't have the proper material with them.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at March 31, 2006 3:28 PM

Widely believed but probably not true. "Wop" gets a passage in Devious Derivations: Popular Misconceptions--and More than 1,000 True Origins of Common Words and Phrases, by Hugh Rawson, and a passing mention in The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way by Bill Bryson ( a marvelous book, by the way.)

Posted by: joe shropshire at March 31, 2006 3:40 PM

It's not an obscene gesture. It is merely dismissive. The obcenity is a reporter stalking him at church, asking him in effect 'By what right does a Christian man presume to be in public life?' I'll have to get a copy of that photo for my wall.

Posted by: Noel at April 1, 2006 1:18 AM

From the Herald story:

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.
Hmmm... That's not Italian! On the other hand, "v* f*r* *n c*l*" would have been.

Anyway, it's a total non-story. Now if Scalia had leaned over and kissed the journalist on both cheeks Godfather-style, I might feel mildly interested...

Posted by: Eugene S. at April 1, 2006 3:26 AM

http://news.bostonherald.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=132656

[...]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 Sunday’s 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, ‘That’s Sicilian,’ and explained its meaning.”

In his letter, Scalia goes on to cite Luigi Barzini’s book, “The Italians”: “ ‘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.” ’ ”

“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.)” [...]

Posted by: Noel at April 1, 2006 2:34 PM
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