I am gratified that we are able to hash out all the fundamentals of this issue here. Because, as I looked back over the responses yesterday and
today, I realized something important: Language and its use is much more important than people think.
Language is the driving force in which fuels a nation. It provides the framework of laws and knowledge; it is the center of an economy; it also
provides cultural differences and defines ethnicities. It is a beautful thing when used to benefit society. But at the same time, it bestows
ugliness when words are used for hate and disparagment. Most importantly, it defines a national identity and history. It is the basis of heritage
and culture. Without its use, how would we be able to define ourselves, let alone others?
That is why I think that language must be treated carefully and reverently. And when it is used for purposes such as the "English Only" law, it can
only be implemented to divide and not unite the United States. As you read above, you might have gotten a glimpse of how the colonists and indigenous
people of America communicated with each other at the birth of the nation. Because America is built from different nationalities, you must have also
observed that it was voted down upon to make English its official language. Why? Because they felt that it violated the very spirit of democratic
principles, if not the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or
of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
There are several reasons in America why the "English Only Amendment" should not be implemented. First of all, it "abridges the freedom of
speech". It also violates the right for "people to peaceably assemble." These two parts of the First Amendment is important because it plays
right into language's insertion into heritage, culture and ethnicity.
In America, people "peaceably assemble" together according to status, class, race, ethnicity and gender. Within these groups, language is exchanged
which delineates and describes their social positioning. And within ethnicities, the mother tongue of a group belongs to their national identity.
When they are in their own neighborhoods (such as Japantown), people use language to express themselves, to exchange pleasantries, and of course, to
conduct their daily business. They also have special words or idioms in their language that distinctly define what is remarkable and unique about
themselves. And in marking certain days, or festivals or even in custom, these words play an important significant to their social and ethnic group.
Words are also used to distinctly describe the places they inhabit or the streets they walk. It gives the ethnicity its own flavor and essence,
something to cherish. Language is also used to help keep records of their histories and tales in which further define the relevance of their people.
And for people outside a distinctive ethnicity, without a sense of language from the said community, how are they to learn and appreciate other
cultures if there are no words being exchanged to describe them?
The "English Only" law is a mean-spirited attempt to erase the beauty of language when tied to ethnicity. What the laws do is effectively practice
Language discrimination means treating someone differently solely because of his or her native language or other characteristics of speech.
By eliminating an ethnicity's language or speech, one effectively sends a silent message that the persons residing in a particular group do not
. It is eliminating their history. It is eliminating their customs. It is eliminating their personal rights of expression. It is also
negating their very humanity and right to exist. By not allowing others to free express themselves in their own language, they are impelled to forget
their mother tongue as well as their family and cultural history. It is against the American way.
In closing, I'd like to suggest a hypothetical question. Suppose people are so angry with the way Texans are (you know, with GWB, Dixie Chicks and
Tom DeLay). And the rest of the country wanted to start a movement to ban everything from Texas? They wanted to eliminate Texas' expressions (Sure
enough; Sugar water; Y'all, etc.) from the English Language. They felt anything Texan
was offensive. Texas celebrities, sports heroes and
dignitaries would be detained and deported for simply being Texan. Include the "faux Texan", our POTUS.
They wouldn't eat Grits or take any beef.
And Congress, going along with public sentiment, decides to pass a bill effectively eliminating everything Texan (especially the "Hook 'em Horns"
insignia and sign) from the national character. Texans were forbidden to express themselves. They were not supposed to conduct business using their
idiomatic speech. They were not supposed to say, "Hook 'em Horns". There would be no signs saying "steer". No steer horns on cars. No
Buckee's. No Luby's. "Dallas re-runs" would be banned. Forget about those Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys. And of course, the Astros and the
Rangers (most fittingly punished) would be banned from speech. The Alamo would be designated as a site of shame. And therefore, no American would be
able to mention it.
What do you think might happen? Would you think the "Anti-Texan" Amendment would fly?
There'd be another civil war in America, if such a ridiculous amendment would pass. You know it and I know it. All because of language and the
paranoid associations with Texas.
[edit on 21-5-2006 by ceci2006]