How do you say 'get over it' in Sicilian?

Published April 6, 2006

On March 26, as he exited Mass, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was asked about concerns that his Roman Catholic faith is shaping his courtroom votes.

What Scalia said is now disputed. His accompanying gesture, captured on film by a freelance photographer, is not.

The archdiocese, the Boston Herald and the 70-year-old jurist have been at war ever since. Scalia, brilliant and tart, suggests his Italian heritage is under attack. The Herald concludes his gesture was obscene, and it has asked important thinkers from Harvard Law School, mob drama The Sopranos and Nanny 911 to weigh in.

The archdiocese's weekly newspaper, the Pilot, did not mention the incident in its article on Scalia's visit. It did reveal that Scalia's speech afterward, to the Catholic Lawyers Guild, would cover such issues as Thomas Jefferson's approach to balancing religion and public life, and "how Christ's expectation that Christians would be mocked in the world has been fulfilled in America."

The photographer - who was on assignment for the Pilot when he captured Scalia's pantomime - has become the judge's worst enemy.

In addition to giving the Herald the photo, Peter Smith told the tabloid that Scalia used a naughty Italian word. Though the slang and its English translation cannot be repeated here, suffice to say that following Scalia's advice is a physical impossibility.

Here's how it all unfolded.

- SCOTT BARANCIK, Times staff writer

Boston Herald