Monday, August 18, 2008

English-only law would risk lives

by Gail Kerr, The Tennessean, August 17, 2008

As election commission officials count the signatures that may lead to a vote on offering city services only in English, a recent memo serves up some startling information about the resulting dangers.(link)

Commentary

I think Gail Kerr's argument is undeniable; approval of the English-only proposal will endanger public safety.

For public safety and public health, I think certain government services should be provided in languages in addition to English. I am grateful the Health Department can brief food service workers in a language they clearly understand. I am glad that if a Spanish-speaking person is diagnosed with a communicable disease, such as highly contagious tuberculosis, that a Spanish-speaking person can question them about who they have come in contact. When a crime is being investigated and a witness's primary language is Spanish, I want the police to be able to question them in Spanish. If my house is on fire and I am away and my next door neighbor reporting the fire speaks only halting English, I want there to be a Spanish speaking person at the 911 call center. The proposed English-only bill, which, apparently will be on the ballot as a proposed charter amendment, will cost the city in lives, dollars, and reputation if it becomes law. It deserves to be defeated.

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