Bogota Hates Spanish-Language Billboards

|

Bogota, New Jersey, that is:

A Spanish-language billboard promoting iced coffee is getting a chilly reception from some Bogota officials.

Mayor Steve Lonegan said the McDonald's billboard on River Road near Elm Avenue and the railroad overpass is offensive because it sends the message that Spanish speakers and immigrants do not need to learn how to speak English.

"English is the language that binds us as a community and as a country," Lonegan said Thursday. "This billboard says, 'You Hispanics can't learn English, so we're going to put up this sign.' It's really sending the wrong message."

Dunno any Spanish myself, but it always chaps my ass to hear an Irishman speaking the language of the colonial overlord. Think I'll go listen to some Van Morrison now.

Tip o' the hat to jp.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

30 responses to “Bogota Hates Spanish-Language Billboards

  1. Last I looked, there’s no English-only requirement in the First Amendment.

  2. After seeing The Sting last night, I thought that name looked familiar. Too bad his first name wasn’t Doyle.

  3. The complete article has it all: a big billboard company standing up for commercial speech, an anti-immigration group called “You Don’t Speak for Me”, a quote from the ACLU, and this:

    Lonegan said he is not racist and would demand that the billboard be removed if it was in Italian, German or any language other than English.

    From ‘racist’ to ‘nationalist’ to ‘nativist’, people have tried to find the softest possible term to describe anti-immigrant bigotry. Perhaps ‘linguist’ is the next step…

  4. Lonegan’s an interesting guy. A conservative, who is a 2nd Amendment supporter, he’s a self made success, despite being legally blind. He’s fought hard to hold down municipal expenditures, despite the usual backlash from teachers’ unions, etc. He’s got some views I disagree with, but I wouldn’t be too quick to make assumptions about him.

  5. MikeP,

    When “linguist” becomes the catch phrase of choice, please don’t say you told us so; we know we heard it here first.

    Brilliant, by the way.

  6. “he’s a self made success, despite being legally blind.”

    My irony meter just pegged.

  7. “This billboard says, ‘You Hispanics can’t learn English, so we’re going to put up this sign.’ It’s really sending the wrong message.”

    The real problem here is obvious: These officials don’t understand Spanish. I’m willing to bet that if they did, they would be shocked to discover that the billboard says something more along the lines of, “Buy this iced coffee”.

  8. I always pick Spanish for the Kroger supermarket U-scan so I don’t have to listen to the annoying English instruction lady.

    The disadvantage is that the written directions are also in Spanish, and yesterday I rang up 4072 Idaho Baking Potatoes (code#4072), which apparently are sold by quantity.

    In compensation, when something goes wrong and the machine is demanding something, both you and the cashier lady can stare dumbly at the machine.

    One teenage cashier lady composed a little something to say in Spanish as I left (I don’t look very Hispanic), good day or something, and I got to reply, “Sorry, I don’t speak Spanish.” The modern equivalent of the shaggy dog story.

  9. Will he be attempting to ban Spanish-language cable networks next?
    The menu at Taco Bell?
    The Three Amigos?

  10. I’m going to fight bigotry with bigotry here and just say it’s maddening to me that the staunchest anti-Hispanic-immigrant types tend to be third or fourth generation Irish and Italian Americans (at least here in Philly, and apparently Jersey). Either they’ve learned nothing at all from their family history or they’re just unapologetically racist.

  11. I thought I was the only one who picked Spanish for the U-scan. Nicer on the ears. I can more or less understand the instructions because of a couple years of Spanish in high skool and college. Also comes in handy when watching Telemundo and Univision.

    It’s the easiest language to learn. A few years when you’re a kid and it sticks around forever. I dunno why everyone doesn’t do it.

  12. A couple of weeks ago, my wife was riding in a car with a coworker, when they passed a billboard that said “Carpe Diem!” The coworker teed off about the ubiquity of Spanish in public these days. My wife thought it might create office friction if she pointed out to the coworker what a dipshit she is.

  13. B.P.

    She should probably stay away from the mixed-message T-shirt.

  14. That is a fantastic t-shirt.

  15. I’m all in favor of billboards in Spanish as long as they include English subtitles. It only seems fair.

  16. I always thought Carpet Diem was a Vietnamese rug shop…?

  17. I remember reading in the Corner a few weeks ago a complaint that Disneyland has messages in Spanish and then went on to say that not many of the guests spoke it. First off, if they got rid of the “Permancer sentados, por favor” message from the rides Gen X and younger residents of Anaheim would riot. Heck, its played on No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom. It’s a cultural mainstay over two decades old. Second, there are tons of Spanish speaking guests over the course of a year in Disneyland.

  18. Oddly enough, I’ve never heard a single complaint about the “Mi Pais” (My Country) billboard that the Navy posted in my city’s densest, immigrant-heavy neighborhood.

    Not a single one.

  19. Oddly enough, I’ve never heard a single complaint about the “Mi Pais” (My Country) billboard that the Navy posted in my city’s densest, immigrant-heavy neighborhood.

    Shocking, really. Our own government, pandering to these cultural invaders, and nary a sound. Could it be there’s some other motivation behind all this?

    Ah, forget it. Preaching to the choir gets out some aggression sometimes but it really is useless trying to convince some people that immigrants are good for us. My union friend can only repeat that damn it, they’re taking our jobs! And damn it, this is America, and that means Speak English! Logic can scarcely put a dent in such self-evident truths.

  20. “My union friend can only repeat that damn it, they’re taking our jobs! And damn it, this is America, and that means Speak English! Logic can scarcely put a dent in such self-evident truths.”

    Please construct a logical argument in favor of people coming into this county illegally. Thanks in advance of your efforts.

  21. You’re pretty good at that. SSBBCF points out another failing of these types, that is, their inability to stick to the subject in question. In favor of decriminalizing immigration? Well then explain to me why illegal immigration is good! In favor of a multilingual society? Well explain to me why I can’t conduct my business the way I want to! etc. etc.

  22. Please construct a logical argument in favor of people coming into this county illegally. Thanks in advance of your efforts.

    Against my better judgement, I’ll nibble.

    First of all, you loaded the sentence by placing the word ‘illegally’ in it. I don’t think it should be illegal. Therefore, the question then becomes “please construct a logical argument in favor of people coming into this country”.

    If you can’t answer that question, you really are a stupid fuck.

  23. “If you can’t answer that question, you really are a stupid fuck.”

    I’ll take that as an, “I can’t answer your question, so I’ll focus on denigrating you instead, you really stupid fuck.”

  24. Please construct a logical argument in favor of people coming into this county illegally.

    If I may take as axiomatic what the founders of the US took as axiomatic…

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

    …that is, individual rights are fundamental and government powers are derived.

    One clear result of these axioms is that not all laws are legitimate. Those who disagree with that assertion may take a moment to explain American slavery, Jim Crow, and Nazi Germany.

    Therefore, whether something is “illegal” or “legal” is never a valid logical argument. Whether rights are protected or violated is what matters when considering government edicts and actions.

    The rights to travel and contract are subsets of the right of liberty. Impeding the immigration or employment of an individual for any reason that is not a compelling state interest — e.g., his being an enemy agent or a provable public health threat — is a violation of the very unalienable rights that governments are instituted to secure. Therefore, if someone comes into this country illegally, it is the law that is in error, not the coming into this country.

    Again calling on the axiomatic primacy of individual rights, any law that violates rights ought to be broken in order to allow the individual to act on his rightful freedoms for his own betterment.

  25. Do you want economic reasons, humane reasons, philosophical reasons, or spiritual reasons?

    I’ll hit you with a simple economic one first. Labor is a commodity in a free market capitalistic society, just like widgets, lettuce, and automobiles. The free flow of labor keeps the price of labor at its natural equilibrium level, rather than at an artificially high, trade restricted level.

  26. It’s obvious that decent logical cases can be made both ways. I’m just much more persuaded by arguments in favor of curbing immigration restrictions, both because of their relative soundness and my pre-existing values which of course place a large emphasis on individual liberties.

    I wasn’t implying that everyone who believes in restricted immigration or building a big wall between us an Mexico is, as you say, “some stupid bigoted blue-collar fuck”. I was just expressing my disappointment at people who will dismiss reasoned arguments against their beliefs with meaningless shit like “this is America dammit”, and especially my disappointment at the fact that many of these people come from relatively recently immigrated families.

  27. I always thought Carpet Diem was a Vietnamese rug shop…?

    My favorite writer is the Vietnamese authoress Sue Doh Nim.

  28. “In favor of decriminalizing immigration? Well then explain to me why illegal immigration is good!”

    Wow is that stupid.

    Decriminalizaing immigration would eliminate illegal immigration, zach. How much illegal rum-running do you see right now?

  29. I know the intersection in question. The real problem with Elm Ave. is its confusing bldg. numbering where Bogota ends and Teaneck begins.

  30. Spanish billboards are equated with ghettos. That’s the bottom line here and that’s why the residents have a problem with it.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.