In the photo above,
Hatcher is not the only one among the overprivileged who likes to give the finger. Harold Daub told me that he got the finger from Hatcher’s wife, the pork rind heiress. And some years back when Emily Gulker put up signs in her front yard in support of embattled SSU president James P. Chapman, former chair of the SSU trustees, Frank Waller, reportedly drove by her house and he, or someone in his car, gave Emily the finger. So suave, these city leaders. In contrast to his crude, uneducated sidekick, Johnson and the other overprivileged are more subtle about giving the finger. Unlike Hatcher, Johnson wraps his finger in culture and philanthropy. The public is not likely to suspect they are being given the finger by entities named the Southern Ohio Museum, the Marting Foundation, and the Southern Ohio Growth Partnership. But they are.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines “the bird,” or “the finger,” as “an obscene gesture of contempt made by pointing the middle finger upward while keeping the other fingers down.” What Merriam-Webster squeamishly chose not to point out is that the reason the gesture is obscene is that the finger symbolically substitutes for the penis.
Anthropologists provide more background on the obscene gesture. Giving the finger is, to use the anthropological term, an ancient “phallic aggressive” gesture. According to Wikipedia, the finger gesture is mostly used as a non-verbal way of saying ‘Fuck you.’” Lower primates, not having the capacity for symbolism of homo sapiens, don’t substitute the finger for the penis. In confrontations, they insultingly thrust their penis at their enemies, suggesting not only that they going to defeat them but they are also going to “screw” them. That may be why some primates indicate submissiveness to a more dominant male by turning the rump toward him.
There are two slang meanings for “screw,” according to Merriam-Webster: (1) Screw can either mean “to copulate with,” or (2) “to mistreat or exploit through extortion, trickery, or unfair actions; especially : to deprive or cheat out of something due or expected.” Merriam-Webster provides an example of “to screw” being used in the sense of to mistreat, exploit, or cheat. The example was provided by Nixon White House counsel John Dean III, who is quoted as saying that he and the Nixon White House used “the available Federal machinery to screw our political enemies.” Screwing was apparently very much on Dean’s mind during the Watergate scandal, and not just the figurative kind of screwing.
The reporter Daniel Shore mentioned on PBS radio back in the Watergate era that one of the reasons that John Dean broke with the Nixon White House was not a sudden religious or ethical conversion but his fear he was being figuratively screwed (in sense # 2) by the older White House crew – Nixon, Haldeman and Ehrlichman; and that he would, if he allowed himself to be the fall guy, end up in a District of Columbia jail, where he could be screwed (in sense # 1) by sexually depraved prisoners, the majority of whom were African-Americans. Dean was sometimes described as “the fair-haired boy of the Nixon White House” and when it came time for Haldeman and Ehrlichman to find a fall guy, they chose Dean as the odd man, or odd boy, out. After females, fair-haired boys are the next to be screwed. In every bureaucracy, if you don’t want to get screwed, you have to follow the first law of survival: Cover Your Ass, known cryptically as “CYA.” Dean was following that law when, turning against those who were trying to screw him, he became the star witness for the prosecution in the Watergate trials. Dean’s career should serve as a warning: Be careful, because the faired-haired boy you try to screw can end up screwing you, as Dean demonstrated by repudiating the Nixon Administration and making a second career of criticizing the current Bush administration, which he calls, in the title of one of his books, Worse than Watergate.
Spilling the Beans
When the Bridge to Nowhere, the new U.S. Grant Bridge, opened in October 2006 to great fanfare, radio coverage was provided by WNXT’s Steve Hayes, who reported from inside the Ramada Inn that Bob Huff (shown here), the head of the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, was outside “giving people the finger.” He was kidding, of course. But in slips of the tongue and in quips and jokes, Freud pointed out, we reveal things that we otherwise would not dare express. Hayes is the eternally adolescent chatterbox for the overprivileged who screw the people of
When the time comes for the unknown developer to buy the
Building a hotel and convention center across from the Ramada makes as much sense as building a new department store across from Marting’s. The only justification for calling the
I grew up in a coastal
It was not “a lot of people” who profited from the gambling and vice in