Doing the Same Things Over and Over

Today is the first day of early voting on the referendum to make Nashville “English-only.”

Here’s something that y’all may not know.  English is already the official language of Tennessee.

I’ve been thinking some about this tendency in Tennessee–to make things double and triple illegal.  Like gay marriage.  It’s now, I believe, triple illegal, but I’ve no doubt we’ll find some way to make it even more illegal.

Or abortion.  We’re going to actually pass a piece of legislation this year that would change our constitution in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned.  Never mind that folks on every side of the abortion debate have changed strategies from watching for the overturning of Roe v. Wade to monitoring efforts to chip away at abortion rights, our state is wasting time and effort making sure that, if some hypothetical thing were to maybe happen, our law would be ready.

And I don’t blame voters for being fooled by this.  Lord knows that if I didn’t read as much as I did–so that it slowly sank in that they really are going to yet again pass another law that covers the same damn ground–I would assume those laws were necessary, that there mush be some reason, maybe an unforseen loophole, as to why they need this exact piece of legislation.

But, I think, the truth is that they have no ideas for how to fix the state and so they need these kinds of smokescreen pieces of legislation that get everyone all riled up.

I mean, just think about this for a moment–if English is the official language of Tennessee, why do we need legislation that makes English the official language of Nashville?  Isn’t Nashville in Tennessee?

So, why is Crafton spending money, most of it your taxpayer money, to do something that’s already been done?  Does he have no new ideas?

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14 thoughts on “Doing the Same Things Over and Over

  1. Wow, one would *almost* think this tendency we have to double and triple and quadruple illegal something is really a tactic by one political party (*cough*cough*GOP*cough*cough) to a) develop mailing lists of registered voters of a certain political persuasion (via, for example, the English Only “petitions”) and b) to drive voters of a particular political persuasion into the voting booth.

  2. Let me see if I get this. English is already the official language of the state so passing this law is redundant. But passing the law in Nashville would cause us to be seen as unwelcoming, cause us to lose business, yada yada yada.

    But if the local law is essentially the same as the state law, havent we already suffered the consequences and all the dire predictions just spin? Or if it is different than the state law, isnt the whole idea the local measure is redundant and unnecessar spin itself?

  3. Anonymous, being seen as unwelcoming, etc. is not a result of the law itself but a result of the perception of the intention behind the passage of the law. Think of it this way; if a business paints a swastika on it’s door, might it lose customers despite the fact that nothing about the way it does business has changed?

  4. The state constitution constrains laws enacted, services provided, and business carried out by the state; the proposed city charter amendment seeks to constrain laws enacted, services provided, and business carried out by the city. In addition, I believe that the state law does not prohibit translation of state laws, business, and services into other languages, but the proposed city amendment seeks to do so.

  5. NM, so the the local law IS different than the state law, to some degree, and the argument that the law is already on the books at the state level is misleading.

  6. IMO, raising the argument as B has done, in the service of a larger point about why the strategy is being pursued, is something of an irrelevance. We can discuss the attempt by those promoting the amendment to rile up the base and thumb their noses at people who welcome change without discussing whether the amendment is 100% a duplication of effort or merely 50%, 75%, 23.5%, or some other percentage duplication of effort. Quibbling about the percentage as you do, on the other hand, shows an unwillingness to grapple with B’s larger point.

  7. Big difference in Nashville and Tennessee amendments: In Nashville, we tie our hands behind our backs by PROHIBITING the use of ANY foreign language, even to send a letter from the mayor to an international company or convention looking to bring its business to our city. In Tennessee, the law simply says that English is the legal and official language. The problem with the Nashville thing isn’t that they say English is our official language. In my opinion, the problem is that they PROHIBIT ANY government employee (from teachers and principals to fire department to police to health department to corrections to the county clerk) from SAYING OR WRITING ANYTHING in a foreign language.

    That’s a stupid, needless, kneejerk, bass ackwards way to do business.

  8. benintn, I’m willing to bet that if the amendment is adopted, Crafton will try to insist that not only city employees but also all employees of any business or institution that gets any sort of city funds is banned from use of other languages. Just wait….

  9. I’m puzzled. Note the highlighted portion below:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Is it just me, or is there no asterisk attached to the free speech clause? Are the people behind this amendment so hell bent on amping up the stoopid that they– oh, never mind.

  10. Another thing that’s really ridiculous about the whole thing is that it’s against Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

    If any agency receives federal funding, that agency must “examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to those with limited English proficiency (LEP), and develop and implement a system to provide those services so LEP persons can have meaningful access to them.”

    Source: Overview of Executive Order 13166

  11. Jon, more than that, I’m wondering about ASL. That’s its own language; it’s not just “English with your hands.” Except for the Title VI issues Angel raises, ALS would seem to be on the shitty side of Crafton’s proposal. Is that really what the voters of Nashville want? Unnecessary hassling of deaf people?

  12. Pingback: Deluge of opposition to English Only « Nashville for All of Us Official Blog

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