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English First: Vote Yes

Posted by garreson on January 14, 2009

On January 22nd in my hometown of Nashville, TN, the citizens of Nashville will be voting on a charter amendment for the Metropolitan Government of Davidson County. This amendment is titled the English First Amendment, and is as follows: 

“English is the official language of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. Official actions which bind or commit the government shall be taken only in the English language, and all official government communications and publications shall be in English. No person shall have a right to government services in any other language. All meetings of the Metro Council, Boards, and Commissions of the Metropolitan Government shall be conducted in English. The Metro Council may make specific exceptions to protect public health and safety. Nothing in this measure shall be interpreted to conflict with federal or state law.” 

This amendment will mandate that any actions conducted by the Metropolitan Government of Davidson county will be conducted in English only. As anyone can imagine, this amendment is facing much opposition from those of the liberal left. However, the arguments that the opposition is based  on holds no water in the face of what this amendment will accomplish for not only Nashville, but also for the implications it has for our nation as a whole.

It has been proposed the English First Amendment will discourage immigration to Nashville and eventually to the United States, it will stunt economic growth in middle Tennessee, and it will affect health standards of the restaurants in Davidson county. However, all of these implications can be refuted with simple common sense and laws that are already in place.

It is a concern the English First amendment will keep  the Metro Health Department from effectively communicating health standard and regulations to restaurant owners who do not speak english. It is often necessary for Metro Health inspectors to speak Spanish and Mandarin Chinese in both their daily inspections and seminars used to teach food handling. 

This can be solved in a very simple manner. It is required for any legal resident of the United States to have the ability to read, write, and speak English(, if it is a concern that health inspectors will not be able to communicate with restaurant owners who cannot speak English, then it might be assumed that the restaurant owner is in this country illegally. Furthermore, it should be the responsibility of the restaurant owner to be able to effectively communicate in order to pass health codes, and not the responsibility of the government to not pass a much needed law in order to cater to someone who isn’t willing to comply with already in place federal legislation. If a health inspector enters a restaurant where he or she cannot effectively communicate with the restaurants owner, then the restaurant should be immediately shut down until the owner is able to communicate in English.

Many of the concerns with the English First amendment deal with reservations about its involvement in things other than government. For instance the economic growth and the ability of business owners to operate in the global economy. It needs to be clearly understood what this amendment is not. This amendment is not a ban on all languages other than English. And, it is not ban on private citizens from communicating in languages other than English. It simply will require the actions of only the Metropolitan Government to operate in English. Imagine if a metro council member wished to conduct a meeting in Italian, there would be nothing to stop the council member from doing so. Interpreters would then have to be brought in just to conduct a metro council meeting.

The final concern of those opposing the English First amendment is its affects on immigration and the signal it will send to immigrants. However, any immigrants that have already fully accepted whole heartedly becoming a lawful citizen of the United States should not be offended or concerned in any way because they should have already learned the English language.

All across the worldglobal economic affairs are conducted in English. The most prominent and educated people in the world speak English. I don’t think I have ever seen someone driving a BMW who couldn’t speak English. However, I have seen people driving cars that looked as if they could fall apart at any second who couldn’t speak English.

English has become a sign of success and education all around the world. Nashville should be a leader in America by taking this step to unite a people under one way of communication. Being able to effectively and efficiently communicate will strengthen the political arena in Nashville. Please support this cause, and if you live in Nashville vote yes for English First on January 22nd.


6 Responses to “English First: Vote Yes”

  1. schmoffly said

    Interesting concept, Mr. Garreson. I think it is a tricky subject. I just can’t help but think what the Roman Catholics did long ago by not allowing the Bible to be read in anything but Latin and how much that threw a wrench into things. How practical do you think it is to mandate English only government issues? There was a sushi restaraunt in Green Hills Village where the owners had lived in the US for 20 years and spoke such bad English you couldn’t hardly understand them- but they were American citizens. Do I think that people in the United States should know English? Yes. Do I think it should be a law that only English can be spoken by a Health official talking to a restaraunt owner living the American dream by starting his own business who doesn’t quite speak great English? I don’t know…

  2. Garreson said

    I respect that point of view. However, I would say that if someone wants to live the American dream bad enough they will do what it takes. Even while how very simple with a little effort it would be for them, learning English is not the only answer. They could hire their own interpreter. The issue at hand is not only about speaking English. It is eliminating just one more thing that has become a burden on tax payers that people expect the government to do for them when they could very well do for themselves with a little effort. Furthermore, I think someone seeking to pursue the American dream should have enough respect for the country that has given them the ability to do so to at least be willing to learn its native language. But thats just me.

  3. mccoolio said

    When this thing first hit, I was adamately an English-only supporter. The way I understood the amendment was that if the Nashville Gov had to publish a document (which the documents they publish prob are in the astronomical range)that they shoudn’t have to publish them in 3 different languages like the infuriating directions and owners manuals of just about every thing you get now. All metropolotan official documents should be printed in English only.Al official busniess conducted by

  4. mccoolio said

    sorry, Didn’t even have opportunity to correct spelling- I hit the enter by mistake-
    … All metropolitan official documents should be printed in English only.All official business should be in English only. That’s the way I understood it.
    But I don’t think it means that. After reading just about everything I could on the controversy it seems like there are so many Federal Laws in place that guarantee Hispanics(whoops)non-English speaking foreigners, the right to translators in all situations involving health, safety,police matters and many, many other situations.In addition,the amendment provides room for necessary exceptions which I believe would be so numerous it would cost the Gov more money to make provisions for the exceptions than to just not have the law to begin with.
    I guess I finally made up my mind when all the presidents at the major Christian Universities in Nashville: Trevecca, Lipscomb, and Belmont, as well as Buck Dozier, sided against the Amendment.
    So, if the amendment was strictly as I stated at the top, I would have definitely supported it.All educated and semi-educated foreigners in our city who would be beneficiaries of official Metro published material should be able to communicate in English. But as I described, I have come to understand the bill to mean way more than that.

  5. Janine said

    Do the right thing, what you know deep in your heart is right. Vote against this referendum. Show the world that Nashville is for all of us.

  6. Janine said

    Check out what conservative Nathan Moore has to say

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