This is a very, very painful post for me to write. I have to defend Boston.
Last week, the US Department of Justice filed suit against the city of Boston, alleging violations of voters’ rights. The Justice Department says that Boston has deprived people with poor English skills of the right to vote by not having enough translators and multilingual ballots available at polling places. They say that this is in accordance with the Voting Rights Act of 1992.
(I need a stiff drink to get me through the next part.)
I have to side against the Bush Justice Department on this one, and stick up for Mayor “Mumbles” Menino and the City of Boston.
(Man, that was painful. I think I need another belt.)
While not enshrined in law, the language of the United States is ENGLISH. The Constitution was written in English. The Declaration of Independence was written in English. Every single law passed is written in English. If you want to be a part of America, and take part in that most fundamental right of being an American and vote, you NEED to learn the language.
Now, I’m no linguist. I took a couple years of French, and a couple more of Latin. (It was a small high school in northern New Hampshire. We had a hell of a lot more French speakers than Spanish speakers up there.) The sole benefits I have left are 1) the ability to pick up something written in French, after a moment, read it aloud almost perfectly, with proper accent (without having a clue what it means) and 2) knowing a couple of dirty Latin jokes.
But I know and accept my limitations. I would never dream of travelling to another country and insisting that they accomodate me and my English-only ways. On top of everything else, it’s just plain rude.
So I’m (painfully) pulling for Beantown here. Hasn’t anyone ever heard the cautionary tale of the Tower of Babel?
(Dirty Latin jokes in the extended section for the incorrigibly curious)
Semper Ubi Sub Ubi
Coito Ergo Sum
Vidi, Vici, Veni