Sunday, January 10, 2010

Problema Grande, Solución Obvia

The Sunday, January 10 edition of the Houston Chronicle brought front-page, banner-headline news of a “problem” in Our Town. (For some reason we don't care to know, we could find no evidence of this story anywhere on or in the paper's online edition as of 12:30 p..m. Sunday.) As with most “problems” “exposed” by formulaic journalism (that’s the set-‘em-up, knock-‘em-down kind that doesn’t tell you anything new or revealing about particular people with real names and addresses), this problem apparently can only be remedied by greater effort, and increased expenditures of taxpayers’ money, on the part of government.

This particular problem––the problem de jour, if you will––rests on the shocking “news” that many people in Houston, far too many people in fact, do not speak English. This state of affairs “adds burdens to police and public,” as the ungainly banner headline screeched, in a “city of global dialects.” (Dialects? Do they still use dictionaries at newspapers, or is that another archaic tradition that’s fallen victim to budget cuts?) That apparently results in situations in which officers who speak only English rely on “wrecker drivers, bystanders or victims’ children to act as translators if bilingual [read: Spanish-speaking] officers are not available.” This despite a Houston Police Department program that "pays $1.9 million annually in extra pay to 1,046 bilingual-certified officers,” among whose number are “904 officers certified as fluent in Spanish” and an unspecified (by the Chronicle) lot “who can speak Vietnamese, two dialects of Chinese and Korean.” (We’d hazard a guesstimate that the number of the latter two rounds up to about 3 or 4.)

To illustrate the pressing nature of this problem, the Chronicle notes that the Houston school district “has identified about 100 languages spoken in students’ home.” What that means, we suppose, is that the ideal HPD officer would be able to investigate and thwart crime in, oh, about 50 different tongues, although such skills would probably price an applicant far out of the police academy. But such deft linguists certainly would be an improvement over all these dumbass native-English-speaking officers who obviously aren’t cut out for police work due to their monolingualism. Their ineptitude contributes to the following tear-extracting vignettes, and “often,” supposedly:
The lack of bilingual officers often forces victims to recount intimate details of a sexual attack to a neighbor acting as translator for an officer, said one veteran HPD investigator....
Not to sound unfeeling or unsympathetic to crime victims, but isn’t the obvious and most cost-effective “solution” to this “problem” to have people who come to this country, legally or illegally but in either case out of their own free will, get cracking and LEARN SOME GODDAMN ENGLISH?

We suppose that would just be too much to ask.


Anonymous said...

My Dad owned and operated a business in Mexico for about 30 years. Do you think there was ever, once, a form in English or a bureaucrat at Gobernacion or Hacienda that spoke English? Never. Do you think there was one cop in the entire city that spoke English? HA!

Learn some freakin English.

bob said...

Maybe they just need the right Google app on their cell phones.

"Shoot him in the ass with the Taser again, Miguel." in Vietnamese becomes "Sút ông trong ass với Taser một lần nữa, Miguel." So says the boss search engine.

100% kosher? Dunno, but the Viets will probably get the gist of it.