Sunday, November 12, 2006

Baltimore Sun: Town of Taneytown Debates Official English-Language Bill

Cross posted from Crablaw Maryland Weekly.

From the Baltimore Sun, November 11, 2006:
A proposal to make the small Carroll County city of Taneytown the first in Maryland with English as its official language has drawn fire from critics who say it might violate state law.

The resolution, scheduled for discussion by the City Council tonight and possibly for a vote Monday, was submitted by Councilman Paul Chamberlain Jr. It would require all city government business to be conducted in English.

"Most people are not aware that English isn't the official language of the United States," Chamberlain said yesterday. "They are shocked to find out it's not. And legal immigrants are even more adamant about English as the official language than your average American."


Such a measure has no place in Taneytown, said Councilman James L. McCarron. In his 23 years on the council, McCarron said no one has ever come forward with a comment or complaint who didn't speak English.

"The thing that irritates me is that we've wasted so much time discussing this issue already, when we could have been talking about things that really mattered to the citizens of Taneytown," McCarron said.
My thoughts.

1) Has Taneytown solved all other municipal problems such that this is the most effective use of taxpayer money? A corollary: if they have solved all outstanding municipal problems, why aren't they publishing a book - in English, if they insist - on how they became a perfect municipality without financial, crime, transportation or development challenges that could not be completely overcome?

2) The measure is effectively redundant because other than a few Hispanic farm workers, and not many of those, Taneytown is not a polyglot community anyway. They may as well make wearing underpants on the inside, not the outside, of one's trousers the official fashion style of the town.

[3) If they want to work on symbolic gestures, why not start with the symbolic gesture of renaming the town after someone who did not pen as Chief Justice of the United States the following words:
"[Blacks are, constitutionally,] beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."
Not only did this infamous phrase in the Dred Scott decision invent new language into the Constitution even more odious than what was already there, but Justice Taney held in contempt the "state's rights" of free states to declare slavery void in their boundaries as against public policy. The Dred Scott decision led to a public contempt for the Supreme Court from which it has arguably never recovered.

For the injustice that he perpetuated, the Court whose reputation he destroyed and the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in a Civil War shortly thereafter, may his name be written out of the Book of Life, or at least out of the town seal and letterhead.

My own recommendation: rename the town after the Plaintiff whose rights he ignored. Scottburg. Then, and only then, figure out how to tell non-English speakers that they are not welcome after dark or whatever message they are trying to send, since fixing the roads and preventing crime just aren't sexy enough issues on which to spend time and taxpayer money.]
UPDATE: While I would favor renaming Taneytown to Scottburg, this Taney is not the Taney of Dred Scott infamy; it is an error on my part and I do apologize and thank Maryland Conservatarian and Kevin Dayhoff for the correction.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe there is some threat of kids just spontaneously falling to language abuse. You know, they are perfectly good kids, they hang out with the wrong crowd and start speaking in Swahili and Quechua. Maybe it's a French menace, you know, Pete goes into the 7-11 to pick up a pack of Skoal, and the French disease hits him, it comes out of his mouth,"Je voudrais prendre du tabac pour un pincement entre ma joue et gommes."

If you think I am being too harsh, please comment below. I am not saying that they need to remain Main Street as "Tupac Shakur Boulevard," though that would open up new tourist opportunities beyond the "I got lost on the way to the Gettysburg Battlefield" crowd.


Blogger howie said...

I'm so proud to live in Carroll County.

11/13/2006 09:05:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home