It’s Official Language Season Again
An article in the Kansas City Star reports on the recurring official language proposal that we can’t seem to get rid of. Voters will decide this November whether to tack an amendment onto the Missouri Constitution making English the language of “official proceedings.”
The article quotes a Somali refugee who wants to learn English, but who is not yet fluent. This man’s story highlights how ineffective the amendment would be. Here you have someone who really wants to speak the language of the country where he lives. He’s already motivated by his own desire to learn. He doesn’t need a law or the state constitution to tell him what he wants, and no legal change will ease his struggle to master English.
Besides, neither he nor any other non-English-speakers conduct official proceedings in our state. Those proceedings are now conducted, as they always have been, in English.
Several states have adopted similar amendments without ill effects; it doesn’t help, but it can’t hurt, either, right? The problem is, cluttering up the state constitution with a few meaningless amendments opens the door to a whole herd of other meaningless amendments. Missouri has official invertebrates, desserts, and everything in between. Do we want all that official stuff in the constitution, too?