Saturday, May 20, 2006

We are pleased to serve you in the language of our choice.

It would surprize most people to learn that the United States, as a nation, has no official language. Although English is the de facto language of the US, and despite George Bush's insistence that immigrants to the US learn English, there is no enacted legislation past or present which specifies any official language in the greater United States. Official languages have always been the domain of individual states and territories.

Until Senator James Inhofe, a deranged asshole from Oklahoma, tacked an amendment onto the Immigration Reform Bill that would make English the official national language of the United States at the exclusion of all others.

From the New York Times: (registration required)

The immigration debate in Congress has hit several low points of mean-spirited dimness, and could go lower still, but on Thursday it came pretty close to rock bottom. By a vote of 63 to 34, the Senate tacked onto its immigration bill an amendment from Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma that declares English to be "the national language of the United States." If you thought otherwise, or weren't sure, well, now you know: We speak English here. None of that "Oprima nĂºmero dos."

What Inhofe failed to recognize is that among the various American states and territories there are already several official languages other than English and some take precedence.

Louisiana - English and French
Hawaii - Hawaiian English and Hawaiian (bookem Dano)
Puerto Rico - Spanish and English
Guam - Chammoro and English
American Samoa - Samoan and English
North Marianas Islands - English, Chammoro and Carolinian

Not to mention the plethora of native american languages that have official status in tribal governments across the US.

If Inhofe's amendment wasn't odious enough, he went further by telling the world that, if his legislation passed, nobody could converse with the United States government in any language but English.

"Unless otherwise authorized or provided by law," the Inhofe amendment says, "no person has a right, entitlement or claim to have the government of the United States or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services, or provide materials in any language other than English."
All over the world the word moron is being spoken in a hundred different languages.

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