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March 30, 2006

Scalia suggested that his critics go take it up the ass

Scalia There's been a lot of agonizing about whether Antonin Scalia made an obscene gesture to a Boston reporter, or merely a contemptuous one.

Scalia seems to be directing the spin: Split hairs over the meaning of the gesture, and hope people forget the obscene suggestion that accompanied it.

Herald reporter Laurel J. Sweet had asked the justice after mass how he responds to critics who might question his impartiality as a judge given his public worship. Smith said for today's paper: “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."

The Italian phrase, according to the Herald, means “(expletive) you.” [E&P]

A more literal translation of vaffanculo is "go take it up the ass." I'm sure Scalia thought that was very witty for a split second, considering how much criticism he gets over his opinion in Lawrence v. Texas.

Frankly, I don't care whether Scalia is making obscene suggestions to reporters. It's more or less what we've come to expect from him. Besides which, civil discourse is probably overrated.

I don't know whether it's especially rude to say that your critics can go Cheney themselves immediately after Red Mass. You'd have to ask someone who takes that stuff seriously.

Hat tip to NTodd.


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It hurts my eyes to even look at someone that smug.

BLT Scalia needs some rest. Maybe Cheney can take him out on a hunt for farm raised possum.

"Besides which, civil discourse is probably overrated."
Perhaps, but out of a population of over 1/4 billion, one would think that we could find a supreme court justice with just a tad more dignity, class, gravitas?
It's a good thing that southern European heritage no longer carries the stigma it once had, but at one time someone of his background and presumed intelligence would not want to reinforce ugly stereotypes and disport himself as a "tacky wop".

And we have to ask ourselves what sort of country we live in when Supreme Court Justices seek to apply foreign obscene gestures to the questions of the day.

Ill-mannered thuggery is ill-mannered thuggery, whatever the national origin of the thug.

The anti- Italian-American meme he's trying to push is just another Republican red herring. He's a bloody judge - he owes some respect to his position and to the nation that put him there. Scalia's naked contempt for his office should disqualify him from any public position.

I can't believe they appointed this schmuck for life.

"Civil discourse is probably overrated."

Could you elaborate please?

Let's face it--Antonin Scalia is an obscene gesture.

The very literal definition of " take it up the ass " may be all in your mind, more in line with " liberal " preferences and lifestyles.

Scalia had a little fun. Big deal. If this is the worst thing you've got to complain about, things are in great shape in America.

I was being slightly facetious about the value of civil discourse. However, I do think that the self-appointed champions of civil discourse are usually more annoying than most of the violations.

The problem with the self-appointed guardians of civil discourse is that they never seem to realize that the most civilized response to an uncivilized remark is simply to ignore it. If someone says something nasty in conversation, the polite thing to do is change the topic. If they persist, leave the party. ("This is where the party ends/because I can't stand here listening to you/ and your racist friend")

Getting all freaked out over a rude gesture, calling someone a schmuck or unfit for office, is just like feeding a troll. It does not promote civil discourse, it escalates incivility.

Something similar might be said about rioting because of a offensive cartoon.

Like feeding a troll? However do you work that one out? So we should just play nice and say 'Oh never mind, he's just having a little fun'? Sod that.

That report went round the world. Don't you think the world despises the US quite enough already, without Scalia's giving out more ammunition?

'Schmuck' is not uncivil. 'Evil rat-faced Republican fuckwit' - that's uncivil. I'm fed up of this 'don't make it worse' attitude from the supposed left.

I've discussed this gesture with a few Italian and Italian-American friends and co-workers. Asked them what the gesture meant. None of these three people gave the " take it up the ass " meaning. The general consensus is that it is a dismissive gesture, but abaolutely not anything obscene.

The obscene meaning that you think is implied is given by another gesture.

Geez, the things you libs get all bothered about!

By the authority vested in me by virtue of my last name, I pronounce Nino a classless boor. (I was thinking of using some pungent Italian phrase, but changed my mind.) That said, why the @#%& is a reporter pestering him coming out of church with an inane question like that? Handled better, this could have been a smashing victory for Scalia, but class will tell.

Schmuck *does* mean penis. One of the factors here is that foreign obsecenties always seem a little less obscene.

The general consensus is that it is a dismissive gesture, but abaolutely not anything obscene.

Phantom, as Lindsay hs made abundantly clear, it was accompanied with the word "Vaffanculo." Now, go walk up to your Italian friends and co-workers and say that word, and observe their response.

There was the gesture, which was just rude, not obscene. Scalia accompanied the gesture by asserting that his critics could sod off (go fuck themeselves/fuck off/go take it up the ass/or your preferred idiomatic paraphrase).

I'm not upset. I already knew Scalia was a crass and arrogant guy. It's hardly surprising.

Had it been a Clinton-appointed judge, Peggy Noonan would have dedicated an entire column by now to how this speaks volumes about the awful crassness of liberals.

More in sorrow than in anger, of course.


It turns out that the actual comment made to Scalia was something like this, "Judge, a survey of 20 jurists and legal scholars who agree with your 'originalist' view of constitutional interpretation has produced 20 different interpretations of how the 'originalist' view should be applied." Scalia's response is now known to the public.


They thought it was hilarious!

But we're not easily offended here.

Phantom: No one here is offended. People think it's rude, which it was, but I don't think it's really any skin of any of our backs - as should be abundantly clear from reading the comments.

Have you considered setting up a bot to make your "Oh you libs!" comments so that you could move forward with your life?


I don't speak for anyone other than my iconoclastic self, and you shouldn't pretend to do so either. Its a sign of incipient megalomania, and I am not sure that your writing and thought processes are quite up to the task .

I detect mock-offense up and down this thread. If you want to deny it, go right ahead, maybe you'll convince somebody.

The problem with political discourse is that too many people paint themselves in a box as " liberals " or " conservatives " or Dems or Republicans and spend the rest of their lives defending those positions, while leaving their critical faculties on cruise control.

The Clinton era Republicans obsessed with Clintons personal and other foibles to an extent that they created sypathy for the 'ol devil in the broader middle of the country.

The / huffingtonpost / crooks and liars / impeach 'im now get a life crowd are so extreme and biased, that they have done Bush a great service over the years. Though their readership is smaller than miniscule, America is aware of this ludicrous perspective and rejects it .

This site at its best is much more thoughtful than those mentioned above. Which is why I read it and why I comment here. But at its worst, it is knee-jerk liberal groupthink, a place where no lefty is ever criticized, no sacred cow is in danger of being gored, and where all the " progressives "
can agree with one another all day long and obsess over hunting accidents and hand gestures by judges. I don't get it.

I'm not a down-the-line anything. I opposed Bush when he sought the GOP nomination initially. I opposed Clinton's impeachment. I'd never want to be a down the line liberal or conservative.

The knee-jerk liberals and the knee-jerk conservatives and the Abramoffs and the Hillarys and the Ted Stevenses have broght discourse and political life to what it now is.

Time for the rise of the ferocious independent, the iconoclast and the free thinker. If you agree, climb on board even if you disagree with my missives. If you still want to be a party line anything, VAFFANCULO to you!!

Phantom, you're really not in a position to lecture anyone about speaking for other people. You make assumptions all the time about what liberals believe, who's a party-line Democrat, and incredibly, strangers' finances.

nice post :) did you see "Boston Archdiocese fires photographer who caught Scalia’s obscene gesture" i posted it in my blog

--You make assumptions all the time about what liberals believe--

Well, I live in New York, capital of liberal groupthink, and I do talk to people and I do read. So, its not exactly a big secret as to what " liberals " believe. But even if I criticized libs all day long...which I don't -there are conservatives who criticize me for BEING a liberal- my criticism of them would not mean that I was speaking for anyone other than myself. Which is all that I have claimed to do.

I think there is a need for serious political discussion in America. There's very little of it. There's a lot of defending of fixed postitions, there's a lot of groupthink, and there's a lot of obsessing with hand gestures and hunting accidents.

And --maybe I've forgotten, and its been a long day-- when did I criticize " strangers finances".? Which stranger?

Swell, another iconoclast....

I know the gesture from West Coast Italian-American fishermen. It's not so much shorthand for a specific phrase, but rather a statement by itself. The meaning is something akin to "fuck off", or "go pound sand up your ass", or "I couldn't give a shit." In any case, it is meant to be rude and to give offense.
What I expect from a supreme court justice is a clever and withering verbal riposte, not the behavior of a goon. Scalia's supposed to be the one who's good at that. You'd think that all the red mass God-talk would have left the little zealot more inspired.

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