I bet you think this post is about baseball. Shows what you know.
We are all human. (if you're reading this and aren't human, contact me. We need to talk). And, as humans we have certain things we do. One of those things is, we insult people.
There are many reasons why we insult people. Sometimes, we don't need a reason to insult someone. We just do it. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it...well, insulting.
There are many ways to insult people. You can use words of pictures to degrade them, you can call them names, you can ridicule something about them.....There are literally hundreds of ways you can insult someone.
One of the ways we insult each other is with the use of gestures. And, here in America, the gesture we prefer is showing someone the back of your closed fist and raising the middle finger. We've all done it. And we'll all do it again. Generally, we use it instead of saying "fork you", or "fork off".
Americans, and many western countries, use this gesture to mean basically the same thing.
But, did you know that the first recorded use was in a play written by Aristophanes in Greece about 2,500 years ago? He used it in a comedy, making a joke about someone who confused a penis and a finger. (not the brightest bulb, I guess)
But, it was already in use in Greece before then. Just not as an insult. It was originally used to indicate anal sex. Much like todays youth will sometimes use the thumb and forefinger of one hand to make a circle, and then jab it repeatedly with the index finger of the other hand to indicate sex, the middle finger was used to either brag about having anal sex, or to suggest having it.
Over time though, it migrated from the Greeks to the Romans, and the Romans are thought to have changed the meaning to "shove it up your ass".
In fact, the middle finger has been a popular gesture in Italy since then. And the Romans, of course, spread it's use to it's territories. (except England, where they use a two finger version. And, I'm not getting into the story about the archers at Agincourt...)
It is believed the gesture migrated it's way to America with Italian immigrants. The first recorded use in America came in 1886 by Charles 'Old Hoss' Radbourn. Old Hoss was a baseball pitcher for the Boston Beaneaters, and was photographed with his team, flipping off the camera.
And, that brings us to todays picture. You didn't see it, did you? Well, look again. Top row on the left. (the picture was taken in New York for a New York paper. And Boston and New York have been rivals since....forever.)
Now, we know the gesture was used before this picture was taken, but no one is sure when it actually hit our shores.
But, your right to display the Rigid Digit Salute is protected. In 1976, in Connecticut, a 16 year old flipped off a police officer. The officer charged him with obscene behavior. An appellate court ruled that while the gesture was offensive, it was not obscene. The state supreme court upheld the decision. Courts have continually confirmed the finger is protected by the first amendment, as long as it's not used in an overtly sexual manner.
So go ahead. Flip off a cop. They can't do anything about it. Unless you request anal sex at the same time....