Thread: RIP Joey Vento
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08-27-2011, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by CharlieGirl View Post
So the hospital operates the same way Jules' department does -- not every person is able to speak every language, but they have access to people who can. No one is denying basic services to anyone, in either regard.

I think putting up a sign in a restaurant refusing to serve those who don't speak English is a dick move, and it's not a good business move, but ultimately that customer has the ability to walk across the street or next door and be served. The two situations are vastly different. Public services do need the ability to serve citizens in any language. Private business does not.

Personally, I've dealt with a couple of *******s who were unbelievably rude when I said good morning rather than bonjour. Those businesses also have not seen a penny of my money, and I've driven past them to spend my money elsewhere. I've also had to use a combination of a sort of sign language to be served in some places, and I appreciate the effort and apologize for not speaking the language.
We've moved a bit beyond that to the more fundamental point surrounding the sign and the attitude that led to the sign. It's tough to really understand this issue in Canada I think because the multi-lingual setup has been a hot button issue for a very long time there, obviously.

Here in the US we go through cycles -- usually tied to economic and or existential crises (like the 9/11 aftermath we are still working through) cycles -- where populist and ethnocentric rhetoric gets ramped up. So, for example, you have folks like Sarah Palin with her rather large following babbling about "Real America" and making distinctions between what that is and is not... and it is most certainly not someone that does not speak English, they are "outside" of "Real" America. We have the recent hysterics over the "Ground Zero Mosque," which resulted in many supposedly reasonable people actively seeking to trample on the Constitution in order to stop construction of that site.

The national language stuff, which has seen an upsurge of late, is part and parcel to this current swing in American politics. And, at its heart, it is fundamentally un-American. Jules brings up a very real problem: what does a police officer in the field do when they cannot communicate with an individual? There's no denying that is a problem, you're not going to have a police officer that can speak every potential language. The even more fundamental problem is that the problem is not solvable short of doing things that we should not be doing at a legal level. People are going to continue to emigrate to the United States (as long as we remain a viable place to move to and prosper). Many of those people are not going to be able to speak English when they get here. That's life. The majority of them will learn passing English, their children (I've gone to school with a multitude of first generation kids) are likely going to be fluent... and the process will continue.

I don't deny that Jules' concerns are valid. They're real. They're the product of a multicultural world, and a country that embraces multiculturalism. It's a hard problem, but we shouldn't be seeking "easy" solutions to hard problems.

EDIT: And, BTW, the French language protectivism is the exact sort of crap that the US should be avoiding as a policy course.

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