Words, Words, Words

Official English

Capital idea, old chap! Let’s discuss the colour of honour whilst mixing aluminium and sulphur in the loo, then we’ll hop a lorry to the pub where we’ll have a nosh-up of bangers and mash.

Oh…not that kind of English, huh?

Coming after a few really harsh memes about rape and guns, this one seems rather mild by comparison. It’s still plenty Stupid and Bad. It’s an insult to non-English-speaking immigrants – a slightly politer way of saying “Speak English or get out!”

I did a bit of digging to find out more about the “Official English” movement. I found an organization called U.S. English, a so-called non-partisan citizens’ action group. According to U.S. English:

Declaring English the official language means that official government business at all levels must be conducted solely in English. This includes all public documents, records, legislation and regulations, as well as hearings, official ceremonies and public meetings.

Official English legislation contains common-sense exceptions permitting the use of languages other than English for such things as public health and safety services, judicial proceedings, foreign language instruction and the promotion of tourism.

Folks, I’ve tried to muddle through official government documents, and I can assure you that they are not written in English. They are written with words that used to have meanings in English, but they’ve been perverted by policy writers into something wholly indecipherable. I would welcome any legislation that mandated official government policies be written in plain English.

But that’s not what this is about. What government documents would be affected by an “Official English” policy? Birth certificates, perhaps. Drivers’ licenses. Voting ballots?

Ah…I see now. So the “Official English” movement would eventually lead to disenfranchisement by inconvenience. That’s where otherwise eligible voters are blocked from casting a ballot by carefully constructed legislation that makes them jump through incredibly narrow hoops. The legislators make a half-assed attempt to portray the legislation as necessary – even noble – but in the end it’s just a transparent ploy to deprive a certain group of people of their ability to influence American politics.

I notice that this meme does not seem to have originated with U.S. English. Instead it comes from The Republican Revolution, a super-right-wing Tea-Party-loving Facebook page. I wish I could say that I am surprised.

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