BOSTON – Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in a scathing letter to the editor of the Boston Herald, accused the newspaper's staff of watching "too many episodes of the Sopranos" for interpreting a hand gesture he made at a cathedral as obscene.
The Boston Herald reported Monday the justice made "an obscene gesture, flicking his hand under his chin" in response to a question about whether lawyers might question his impartiality in matters of church and state. The incident occurred after he attended Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
But Scalia said in his letter the gesture is not obscene at all, but dismissive. Scalia said he had explained the gesture's meaning to no avail to the reporter, whom he referred to as "an up-and-coming 'gotcha' star."
To back his interpretation of the gesture, Scalia in his letter quoted from 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."'
Scalia said in the letter, written to Executive Editor Kenneth Chandler, that the reporter leapt to conclusions that it was offensive because he initially explained his gesture by saying, 'That's Sicilian."'
"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.)," he wrote.
The Herald had referred to him as an "Italian-American jurist."