Every day this week, including today, the Boston Herald has run stories on the manufactured controversy of Justice Antonin Scalia’s “gesture” at the end of the Red Mass in Boston last weekend. At first they claimed that he made an “obscene” gesture in front of a reporter and a freelance photographer for the Boston Pilot, the archdiocesan newspaper. Then when everyone said that flicking your fingers under your chin is not a Sicilian obscenity, the story threatened to die down until that freelancer decided to sell his picture to the Herald.
New life to a non-controversy! The Pilot subsequently said it would no longer utilize the services of the photographer, who also happens to be a journalism professor. (Journalism profs aren’t generally liberal, are they?) More controversy! Free speech and that stuff!
(By the way, if the gesture was an obscenity not fit for the environs of the Church, why has the Herald run it in the paper (including the front page) and on its web site every day this week? Surely, they would not print obscenities. Hmmm.)
Now the photographer claims that in addition the (non)obscene gesture, Scalia uttered an Italian verbal obscenity (which I will not posted nor allowed to be posted; I’ve deleted it a few times in the comments). Surprisingly, no one else seems to have heard him utter this obscenity, including the Herald‘s reporter he supposedly said it to nor any of the other media people who were there.
The real obscenity in all of this is the attempt by a reporter to disrupt a Mass—this occurred after Communion—to accost Scalia with questions about how he should practice his faith. And then to blow this up into a manufactured media circus in a blatant attempt at garnering attention. Is the Herald just sinking into the morass of tabloid journalism or is the an aberration? I’m afraid to find out, because if we don’t have the Herald, there’s only one other paper in town. And while their attitude toward the Church is more veiled, it is hardly friendlier.