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Digitus Impudicus

from VICE

The Long, Angry History of Flipping the Bird

by Mack Lamoureux

The middle finger is way older than you think.

In late October, a woman named Juli Briskman pulled off something that many Americans—plus many foreigners—would die to do.

Briskman, bless her heart, flipped Trump the bird.

While Trump’s motorcade was cruising through Sterling, Virginia, they passed Briskman who was on her bike. Briskman, realizing who was pulling past her, extended her arm and popped up that wonderful, old as time, middle finger salute to America’s special liddle guy. As a result of pulling of the much loved stunt, the 50-year-old Briskman was fired by her government contractor employer.

However, the hero of this tale is a defiant one and told Huffpo that she’d “do it again” if given the chance.

But what was Briskman really saying with that single digit salute?

Well, as I’m sure you know, the finger is one of the most cherished gestures in the Western world. It’s how we show disapproval to those who can’t hear our vulgarities for whatever reason, it’s how I tell that chachi dude in the black truck that he almost ran me down in a crosswalk, and, if you’re the Canadian editor of VICE Sports, how you say hello to me in the morning.

The history of the finger isn’t completely concrete, but, as Benjamin Bergen, director of the Language and Cognition Lab at the University of California in San Diego explains, we know flipping people off goes back not just centuries but millennia.

“We know that it goes back, at least, to Greek times,” Bergen told VICE. “It shows up in some Greek plays and where it’s juxtaposed with other sorts of vulgar gestures, like the waggling of a penis for example. We also know that from records that it also showed up in plays in Roman times and in accounts of senate chamber conflict and so on.”

“We know that it had a name in Roman times where it was called the indecent or impudent finger, the Digitus Impudicus. It continues for the following millennium as we know, there are some urban myths people tell about the origins but as far as we can tell none of them are true, it really has a several thousand year history.”

[ click to continue reading at VICE ]

Posted on November 9, 2017 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art, Mirth | | No Comments »