When I was a child, my grandmother often referred to someone as a chooch, Italian for donkey. When she referred to me as a "little chooch," it was endearing. When she referred to the butcher who put his thumb on the scale as a chooch, she meant he was a scoundrel. Same word.
To believe Dr. Cyril Wecht used the term goombah in referring to District Attorney Stephen Zappala and FBI Agent Bradley Orsini in an endearing or a culturally appropriate way as he tried to explain in his Jan. 27 piece ("I Didn't Use 'Goombah' As a Slur") stretches logic even further than we are used to from Dr. Wecht.
He used the term goombah because Mr. Zappala and Mr. Orsini have Italian surnames. Calling them inept, or unprofessional, or even politically motivated would have made his point. But he was angry, he had a microphone, and he wanted to get even. So a man with an outstanding vocabulary used a term he knew had many meanings, most of which are ethnic slurs. And 1,000 words detailing Italian-American culture and language won't change that.
Say what you will, Dr. Wecht; you'll live with your words, and this controversy is now part of your social curriculum vitae.