it's a matter of interpretation
(so, scalia likely flipped-off a gaggle of Boston-area reporters and now has his PR people denying it. am i the only one who thinks it sounds less Supreme Court-y to loudly proclaim Sicilian connections at "a special mass for lawyers and politicians?" does that sound like a booty call or what? -- brook)
BOSTON, March 27 (UPI) -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia startled reporters in Boston just minutes after attending a mass, by flipping a middle finger to his critics.
A Boston Herald reporter asked the 70-year-old conservative Roman Catholic if he faces much questioning over impartiality when it comes to issues separating church and state.
"You know what I say to those people?" Scalia replied, making the obscene gesture and explaining "That's Sicilian."
The 20-year veteran of the high court was caught making the gesture by a photographer with The Pilot, the Archdiocese of Boston's newspaper.
"Don't publish that," Scalia told the photographer, the Herald said.
He was attending a special mass for lawyers and politicians at Cathedral of the Holy Cross, and afterward was the keynote speaker at the Catholic Lawyers' Guild luncheon.
(here's the retraction courtesy of the AP -- brook)
Justice Scalia gives a sign, but no finger
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON -- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia used an Italian hand gesture when questioned by a reporter after attending church this past weekend.
The Boston Herald reported Monday that the justice made "an obscene gesture under his chin" - which prompted some online reports that Scalia had used his middle finger.
"It was a hand off the chin gesture that was meant to be dismissive," Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.
Scalia, 70, is Italian and known for wisecracks in and out of court.
The sign he used in Boston is frequently used by Italians to express displeasure with someone - from mild to deep irritation. It is done by cupping the hand under the chin and flicking the fingers like a backward wave.
Scalia was leaving Mass on Sunday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross when the reporter asked the justice if he had to deal with much flak related to his conservative Roman Catholic beliefs, according to the newspaper.
"You know what I say to those people?" Scalia said before making the gesture, according to the paper's account. "That's Sicilian."
The paper said that Scalia also said: "This is my spiritual life. I shall lead it the way I like."