“The average guy on the street hates Spanish…”

Facing a $500 million shortfall in the state budget and a host of other serious, very real problems, one of the five top priorities of some elected officials in Jefferson City is…non-English street signs and driving tests. Take it away, fellas:

Rep. John Cauthorn, R-Mexico, said he likes the idea [of doing away with road signs and driving tests in other languages] and thinks his constituents will, too.

“The average guy on the street hates Spanish, and it is everywhere,” Cauthorn said. “To the average guy, that is important. We are almost to the point of losing our identity as a nation.

“If folks are going to come here and work, they need to work toward learning the English language,” he said.

My first reaction was, “Has anyone, anywhere, ever packed so much stupid into four short sentences?”

But being equipped with logic and reason, I thought I should investigate for myself these accusations of proliferating non-English road signs. What I found…well, it shocked me. They’re everywhere! Examples here, here and here…I even found one near Rep. Cauthorn’s hometown. Communisms!

Now I haven’t read up on this bill, but reclaimin’ our identity as a nation can’t happen a moment too soon. Perhaps we can start with renaming, oh, Mexico?


Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

6 thoughts

  1. I’m don’t care for the manner in which Mr. Cauthorn expressed it, but I do think it is vitally important that the USA remains a single language country. I feel it is important for our economic growth. If I was going to move to Italy, you can bet your bottom dollar I would learn Italian. How else could I expect to make a living and become a part of the culture? Why is it too much to expect immigrants that want to live and work in America to learn English?

  2. It’s a fair point. I would learn Italian as well. Thing is, surveys show that the immigrants agree with you (and I), and believe learning English is very important. Which is probably why I’ve encountered exactly one person in Columbia who spoke no English at all – and I was able to order my tacos de carne asada just fine. Like my Swedish and German ancestors before them, these people ARE learning English. There is no problem here, just fear and insecurity.

  3. If an immigrant can not read English road signs, do we really want them driving on our streets before they are capable of reading the signs. And if we are both in agreement that immigrants should (and generally are) learning English, then why should the state be wasting money on bi-lingual signs? I don’t know, just doesn’t make a lot of since to have bi-lingual signs to me.

    If Cauthorn hadn’t tossed in the ignorant “average guy” line, I doubt many would have a problem. But when did we expect our politicians to have half a brain?

  4. First, people all over the world visit countries and drive just fine without learning the local language. People, it turns out, are intelligent and can figure signs out. No one gave my dad a test in Italian before he rented his car in Italy. It’s fine. I like the approach in Thailand, where they take the trouble to post all kinds of signs in English, which most European visitors know to at least some extent. It’s welcoming and helpful.

    More to the point, where are these bilingual signs? Has anyone actually seen one?

  5. Like Scott’s parents, we managed to drive just fine in Italy without knowing more than a smattering of Italian. With the graphic, international road signs that have become standard since the ’70s, the argument that still-learning-English-speakers won’t understand road signs is pretty much a canard.

    For me the bigger issue is Cauthorn’s statement that “The average guy on the street hates Spanish.” So what is the average Republican legislator’s response? “Let’s *stoke* that hatred! Let’s legislate to it! Let’s make those ‘average guys’ feel really aggrieved for no real reason! Then, after we’ve fomented this hatred, we can always say how shocked and saddened we are when one of the more unstable of our average guys goes off on an other-hating shooting spree. Oh, and we’ll pray for the victims’ families, of course.”

    P.S. No, I haven’t seen any of these supposedly ubiquitous bilingual signs. I don’t think anyone has proposed instituting Sharia law in Missouri either.

  6. My 79 y/o mother, who is Native American, cannot read or speak English. Yet, she has driven for many years without a problem (she has a better driving record than I do).

    For a couple hundred years, our identity as a nation has been as a ‘melting pot’ of all ethnic groups. I think the senator and other insecure folk should study our nation’s history and reflect where their ancestors came from…and take to heart, the words on the Statue of Liberty.

    Instead of being afraid of other languages, we should encourage our young to learn more than just English, as it is to our advantage to know more than one language.

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