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Dial "B" for Bigot

Two weeks ago I admitted that we suck as neighbors, and most of you agreed that we do, in fact, suck as neighbors. You were kind about it, though, and also admitted how much you suck at being a neighbor. Thanks. Suckiness loves company.

Yesterday evening on our maybe-the-kids-need-just-a-little-more-physical-activity-to-wear-them-down walk, we took the route that led us past the POLITICAL SCREAMER'S house. Lo and behold: a new sign.

This just pisses me off.

It's confrontational, it's aggressive and besides being idiotic, it's just the wrong way to communicate an idea or belief. I'm all for free speech. You have an opinion? Write a letter to the newspaper or your elected representative. Join a like-minded organization and have an organized rally. Start a blog.

I think he is attempting to address the issue of making English the official language of the United States. If so, I'm sure he believes that until recently Americans had never provided bilingual ballots, education, publications, and similar services at public expense and that native language accommodations discourage immigrants from learning English. Wrong on all counts.

In fact, the Continental Congress published it's journals and official documents in English, German and in French. And it was also the Continental Congress that rejected the proposal to establish an official language because it was believed to be an improper role of government and a threat to individual liberties.

There is also a history, though, of states enacting restrictive language policies which were nothing more than thinly veiled ways to exclude certain minority groups from employment opportunities.

Our historical response to language diversity has ranged from accomodation to tolerance to discrimination to repression. I suspect that these responses are determined by factors that have little to do with language, but more to do with the majority groups feelings of prosperity, stability and paranoia.

According to the most recent census statistics, 15% of the population in the United States is Hispanic. And growing. Fast. This fact, combined with the aggressive nature of his sign (all caps, bold black letters on stark white poster board, taped to the side of his house facing the busiest street in the neighborhood), leads me to believe my neighbor is afraid, and paranoid, and wants to instill that same fear and paranoia in as many people as he can in the only way he knows how. With stupid signs in his yard.

There are far too many level-headed, tolerant people out there to allow this type of mentality to get very far. If not, then I'll be afraid.