Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Making the World Safe for the Two-Handed

Assume, for a moment, that you only have one hand. And assume that a town near you passed a resolution stating emphatically that two-handed people are the norm for that town. On the one hand you might think, "Well duh. Of course that is the norm. Of course I am different. Why does that need to be said?"

On the other, you would probably feel somewhat put upon. You know you are different, but why does anyone need to throw it in your face? Why, when you are working hard to overcome your difference, does anyone need to take pains to point out your location outside the norm?

This then is the real problem with Norton's English as Official Language resolution. Does it make Norton look silly? I think so, but I'm from Wadsworth. I recuse myself from any discussion about how to prevent Norton from looking silly.

Does the Norton resolution discriminate? Not much. Given the demographics of the place and the loopholes built into the resolution, it seems unlikely to have any real effect on any real non-English-speaking person.

The real problem is the fundamental mean-spiritedness of the thing. And occuring in Norton, a town with none of the social strains associated with assimilating a large immigrant population, mean-spiritedness is the only remaining rationale. Calling it hateful overshoots the target and is easily dismissed. The people who passed this thing don't hate Hispanics, but they do want everyone to know that they feel really good about themselves for being in the majority.

I know Joe Kernan in passing -- we no doubt sat on opposite sides of a few cases resolved by plea bargain. Joe at Rubber-Buzz sings his praises. Certainly he has acquitted himself well in this case. He is taking the right stand, with not-insignificant political risk, and is giving himself some good cover in the process. Here's hoping he takes the next step and vetos the resolution. Norton should save its meanness for the Victory Bell game.