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Reason Magazine editor Nick Gillespie went on The O’Reilly Factor last night to debate Lamar Alexander about whether we should have a law against singing “patriotic” songs in other languages. I watched the segment (fortunately, it was the first one) and then turned the tube off so I wouldn’t have to watch O’Reilly bloviate for an entire hour. Tim Cavanaugh described the program as such:

My review: Good stuff. O’Reilly was fine: He had a nudge-nudge manner on when describing the bill Lamar! is sponsoring, and stayed pretty much out of the dustup that ensued.

Nick got in a good armpit scratch while Lamar! was reading off his bill of goods.

Lamar! shot his hunting partner in the face with “I’m glad you brought up Iraq. Iraq is diverse, the Balkans are diverse; we don’t want to be diverse.”

Nick hit back with the Pew Hispanic Center results, got interrupted, hit back again with Nick’s version of the Omega 13–Grandfather Nicola Guida. (Shortly after the broadcast, it was revealed that Nick had plagiarized the character Nicola Guida from the young adult fiction of Megan McCafferty.)

Another viewer used this description:

It was a total smackdown. Nick kicked Lamar’s ass. Anybody notice now after Nick went off, Lamar was furiously blinking like he was about to have a stroke?

To add to the smackdown on the topic, Xeni Jardin has a great posting over at BoingBoing. Not only have they translated the national anthem into International Morse Code (mp3), but they’ve also translated it into pure geek binary code.

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. How can anyone who claims to be a “Strict Constitutionist” and/or advocate against “judicial activism” turn around and try to regulate the language we speak (or sing) when there is no legal basis for doing so?

  2. Rhampton — here in Arizona, the state constitution makes the official language English. That’s about as significant as the state reptile being the gecko, though.

    SG — awesome headline name, btw. “Pure Geek” was a good laugh as well.

  3. IanC, does Arizona law prohibit the speaking of languages other than English?

    “It’s one of the great pities of my life that, because I speak no Italian (other than
    what I picked via the Godfather movies) and he spoke no English (other than
    what he picked up watching Gunsmoke, his favorite TV show), I was never able
    to communicate effectively to him just how un-American he was.”

    Heh. And Nicola Guida kicks ass. :)

    Have been annoyed that every time the illegal debate comes up on television or radio no one points out just how hard it is to be legal nowdays.

  5. Nemo — I am in absolute agreement with you on that note.

    For example; the regulations as they currently stand require touring artists to acquire work visas — as if they were planning to be permanant residents of the US.

    Rhampton — they’re working on it, effectively. The idea was to ban the dual-language public signs and official documents.

    Of course, it’s all recividism, and as such is doomed to failure. Recividism always fails.

  6. Ultra-patriots that want America to be a pure America are sniffing and eating their own crap.

    In high school, I started earning better marks in English after taking French class. I am sure our freedom can best be appreciated by learning about other societies.

    What version of English should America claim as pure American English? Should we take out all of the Spanish words? French words? German words? How about all the latin words?

    Hitler was pursuing the pure white human species. May be the ultra-patriots have a little bit of Hitler in them.

  7. It’s dumb to force people to only speak in English, but it’s equally tyrannical to force everyone to speak Spanish too. Pretty much all government signs in Texas are in both English and Spanish, and I’m sure if they took away the Spanish LULAC would take them down. I wonder how much tax money that cost?

  8. roflmao — take all the german words out of a germanic language… we’d be left with grunts and growls! :)

    With regards to the question of language… I’ve heard a lot of arguments on all parties with regards to that question. I can honestly see all sides of it rather fairly, in my own opinion.

    Living as close to the border as I do, it is somewhat of an immediate concern to me, as well. So, with that in mind, I can say the following:

    I find no person who cannot speak English, whom is a resident of America, offensive in any way shape or form.

    I am deeply, personally, disgusted and offended by those whom refuse to do so or to learn how.

    There *IS* a difference there.

  9. You must (find/have found) a good portion of the Louisiana population deeply disgusting.
    Damn creole.

    Hm. And how about some of the reservation population.
    Oh, and pretty much any recently annexed territory. Hawaii at one point.

  10. Nemo — like I said; “I find no person who *cannot* speak English […] offensive in any way […]”.

    Most who come here initially aren’t able to speak English. Even with immersion, it takes years. Most Hawaiians now speak English as a first language; there is some drive to reverse that trend but it’s still with English as a second language.

    Same goes for those speaking Creole in ‘the bayou’ — which in fact *IS* a partial dialect/patois of English, French, and indiginous dialects…

    I speak of those whom willfully refuse to learn whom have the ability and opportunity. If you honestly just *can’t* — that’s no reason to hold it against you.

  11. I was speaking of the same thing.
    There are many people who see no reason to learn the language.
    Was thinking of folks whose neighbours don’t speak english (creole), places where *no one* speaks english – recently annexed
    territory, or people who find english to be a reminder of the loss of their property (reservations). All
    three are cases where there would be opportunity but zero desire.
    Those were the examples I was giving since I found your opinion, well, repugnant.
    Who the hell cares what language a person uses? If they don’t want to communicate with others, fine.

  12. Nemo — you can find my opinion whatever you want. I don’t give a damn.

    It’s a matter of respect. Nearly all other countries in the world have an official or state language — or two for that matter.

    If you are going to interact with the american populace at large, learn the damned lingua franca of our nation. By coming here from elsewhere and insisting that we speak your language, you’re doing nothing short of slapping us in the face.

    And yes, I understand the irony of the term lingua franca.

    So Nemo, if you find my position repugnant, I find yours specious and ignorant at best.

    And that’s just how its going to be.

  13. No one is insisting you learn to speak their language.
    But at least you did go ahead and say it. You are comparing English to countries which do mandate
    a language.
    This isn’t just about the common language, because in some areas that could well *not* be English.
    But hey, at least they aren’t forcing you to talk to them.
    As a matter of fact, I suspect most of these people would have little interest in talking to
    you in any language.