Let Freedom Ringtone!


A dumb-jokey anti-immigration ringtone gets summarily pulled from sale by Cingular (my cellular provider).

The ringtone started with a siren, followed by a male voice saying in a Southern drawl, "This is la Migra," a slang term for the Border Patrol.

"Por favor, put the oranges down and step away from the cell phone. I repeat-o, put the oranges down and step away from the telephone-o. I'm deporting you back home-o," the voice continued.

Hispanic activists called the product racist.

"It's horribly offensive and a disgusting thing," Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, told the newspaper.

Cingular removed the $2.49 ringtone, among thousands available for downloading from its Web site, Tuesday afternoon.

One of the worst qualities of any thought-elite is pushing off the table any cultural expressions, however crude, joking, or idiotic, of popular opinion–and this sort of goofy tortured Spanglish anti-immigration sentiment is quite popular these days.

While I'm more elite than the elites when it comes to freedom to cross national borders and work wherever you can find someone willing to hire you, and stopped finding the likes of the Greaseman (a shock jock from whom I recall a lot of this sort of thing) funny around age 12, I find that the closing off of such expression does bad things to the national cultural conversation–mainly by providing even more reason for petty resentment on the part of those who find that ringtone not only a hoot, but a vital expression of one of those Things You Can't Ringtone in America Anymore.

Obligatory recognition of Cingular's right to sell or not sell whatever ringtone it prefers duly noted.