Monday, October 26, 2009

Hey, I Can't Speak Spanish

By now, everybody has probably heard the story about the lady in Dallas who got the ticket for speaking Spanish. If you've been hiding in a closet, the story is here

In the article, she says she felt humiliated by the ticket. I can completely understand that. I don't understand why she got a ticket anyway. Even Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle said the law is on the books, but it's meant for commercial driver's not grandmas taking their grandchildren to school. We're talking about this because of a much larger issue. It's not about Driving Under the Influence of Spanish, it's all about whether people who come here - legally in this case - should learn English or not.

First off, let me say I don't believe police officers should invent stuff to write a ticket about. If the lady was speeding, give her a ticket. If she was talking - in Spanish, English or Klingon - on a cell phone in a school zone, give her a ticket. If she was trying to solicit Dallas Cowboys for sex, please give both her and the accused Dallas Cowboy a ticket. If she was speaking Spanish to the officer, then show a little leniency and let her go.

Obviously, we don't have all the facts, but if the police chief is taking her side, I would say the cop was probably in the wrong.

I hope one day to travel the world over. I really want to visit places like Germany, France, Italy and Bora Bora. While there, I want to be able to speak enough of the home language to get by and to "order a hamburger" as they say (although I probably won't order a burger while in the above countries, except maybe Bora Bora, but I'm not sure that's a country). I hope, however, that I'm not pulled over by a police officer on the streets of Venice and issued a citation for jaywalking, soliciting for sex and for "not speaking Italiano." I don't mind the other two, but please not the last one. Please.

On the other hand, I do believe if I moved to those countries full time, I would try my best to learn the language of the natives. My family would speak the language of the people as much as possible. I want to learn. Why? Because that is how I'm going to be successful in that country - except Bora Bora, where success only comes through hard work and a smoking hot body.

I believe when a German immigrants poured in through the gates of  Ellis Island in New York around 1900, some of his first thoughts were: 1) Ich bin froh, dass sich freaking boot. 2) Was macht ein Mann tun müssen, um ein Bier um sich hier? and 3) Ich habe mich, Englisch zu lernen, damit ich einen Hamburger zu erhalten.

which for those of you who don't speak German, allow me to translate: 1) OMG am I glad to be off that freakin' boat. 2) What does a guy have to do to get a beer around here? and 3) I've got to learn some English so I can order a hamburger.

And it wasn't long before he learned English. Not because it was the law, but because it was the best way to succeed in America. And that's why everyone comes here right? To succeed?

So let me speak to that German immigrant: 1) Me too. 2) Might I suggest you hit the Happy Hour at Hooters. and 3) The hamburgers here are so good.

Don't you agree?

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