You know, I understand that each and every state in this great union has its share of dipshits. I know that undue focus of ridicule on our Southern friends (with the exception of Florida, which I think we can all agree is irretrievably fucked up) is elitist and retrograde stereotyping. I work towards not indulging overmuch in blue-state snobbery towards the South.
But sometimes y'all make it really. fucking. difficult.
Case in point: a Louisiana tizzy over a single sentence spoken in a foreign language at a graduation.
Hue and Cindy Vo are cousins of Vietnamese descent. They were co-valedictorians at Ellender High School in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. They are guilty of a grave crime against America: they speak, and occasionally use, a language other than English. This became clear during their commencement address:
Cindy Vo, the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, spoke about high-school memories, friends and the future. Then Ms. Vo, 18, recited a sentence in Vietnamese dedicated to her parents, as they watched. She told classmates that the line, roughly translated, was a command to always be your own person.
Surely a single sentence in a foreign language, spoken sentimentally at an important event to a parent who speaks that language, immediately translated and placed in context, couldn't bother anyone, could it?
David Bourg, the secondary education supervisor with the Terrebonne Parish School District, is forming a committee of educators to study the graduations at the four high schools and to make recommendations to the school board. Officials are also considering other proposals, like requiring a prayer during the ceremony.
“As board members, we get to observe the different ceremonies, and there’s some inconsistencies I think the board, or administration more importantly, needs to address,” said Rickie Pitre, a board member. “I don’t like them addressing in a foreign language. They should be in English.”
Some Terrebonne Parish school officials now say all commencement speeches should be spoken in English only, and they want a formal rule that says so.
Let's make this plain: no one is giving entire speeches in a foreign language. The co-valedictorian of a high school spoke a single sentence in her native tongue to express a principle that guided her life, then immediately translated.
Sometimes I'm willing to cut slack. Sometimes I'm willing to account for cultural differences. Sometimes I'm willing to see it from a different perspective.
Anyone who was upset because of that one sentence in Vietnamese is either mentally ill or a worthless bigot, a twisted caricature of an American. There's no excuse. There's no nuance. Nobody but a bigot — a person who, in all probability, is angry and bitter that some goddam foreigner is valedictorian at our school– could possibly react like that.
Rickie Pitre, Roger DeHart, and others advocating this English-only rule: it is a sick fucking joke that you are involved in the education of children. You are standard-bearers of intractable ignorance and knee-jerk bigotry. You are dog shit on the shoe of education. You're vermin, you're an embarrassment to your state and your nation, and you ought to be ashamed.
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