Re: English only legislation

Subject: Re: English only legislation
From: Jim Venis <ujv01 -at- MAILHOST -dot- UNIDATA -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 1994 08:52:52 CST

> >> I think such legislation deserves serious consideration, but I am sure
> >> it won't get an open-minded hearing. Too many people will be able
> >> to make too much political mileage simply by shouting such proposals
> >> down. --Jim Venis

> Yeah but Jim, you don't say why the legislation deserves serious attention,
> or what "serious attention" is. If it's a run through Congressional hearings,
> I suggest we cool it until the issue goes off the richter scale for more
> folks that merely the anti-cuban crowd in Miami or the xenophobes in southern
> California. Besides, what practical purpose would it serve to make English
> the OL? If it serves no practical purpose, why is it (or should it be) on the
> agenda.

> Tim Pera
> tim -at- pbs -dot- com

I think English-only law deserves calm, deliberate consideration because
in a multi-ethnic society like ours, there remains the need to have a
common channel of communication to which all parties have access. That
channel could be Attic Greek for all I care, but that's not very
practical, is it? If we agree that the United States benefits by having
its citizens identify agreeably one with another--that you and I can
look at each other and feel a common bond--then we have a
constructive motive for considering English-only legal provisions.
Should such legislation be used by bigots to punish those they define
as "outside" the "mainstream" culture? Of course not. Should those
"outside" the "mainstream" culture resist bigotry? Of course.
On the other hand, should we be so careful about avoiding offense to
"subcultures" that we refuse to acknowledge what societal disintegration
costs us? Should members of "subcultures" be so entrenched by fear and
prejudice that they cannot recognize what could be a self-enforced
I don't remember where I read recently that the U.S. has what could be
called a third world country of 20 million (Spanish-speaking) people living
within its
borders. This country-within-a-country is isolated from the mainstream,
can hardly be expected to integrate with it, can barely communicate with
the mainstream. That's a shame, in my opinion. It hurts those 20 million
people by making them strangers in what they may percieve as a hostile
land. It hurts the rest of us by cutting us off from their culture,
creativity, vitality. It diminishes all of us because we are failing to
maintain our connection to our countrymen/women.
I feel that English-only laws that are derived from the desire to
include--not exclude--people, and which strive to respect the diversity
of our fellow travellers, are worthy of consideration. I feel we could
use something that opens the way to consensus, and that having a common
language intended for public discourse would be a way to promote
--Jim ujv01 -at- unidata -dot- com

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