The Volokh Conspiracy

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Identity politics

Arkansas Governor Nixes Latinx


From Tuesday's Executive Order to Respect the Latino Community by Eliminating Culturally Insensitive Words from Official Use in Government:

WHEREAS: Ethnically insensitive and pejorative language has no place in official government documents or government employee titles;

WHEREAS: The government has a responsibility to respect its citizens and use ethnically appropriate language, particularly when referring to ethnic minorities;

WHEREAS: According to Pew Research, only three percent of American Latinos and Hispanics use the word "Latinx" to describe themselves;

WHEREAS: The Real Academia Española, the Madrid-based institution which governs the Spanish language, has officially rejected the use of "x" as an alternative to "o" and "a" in Spanish;

WHEREAS: One can no more easily remove gender from Spanish and other romance languages than one can remove vowels and verbs from English; and

WHEREAS: It is the policy of the Governor's administration to prohibit the use of culturally insensitive words for official state government business.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, acting under the authority vested in me as the Governor of the State of Arkansas, do hereby order the following:

That all state offices, departments, and agencies, unless granted an exemption by the Governor, shall review official documents of their respective entities regarding the use of the term "Latinx," "latinx," "Latinxs," or "latinxs" in official state documents.

That all state offices, departments, and agencies shall submit a written report to the Governor detailing the findings of their review regarding the current use of the terms "Latinx," "latinx," "Latinxs," or "latinxs."

That within sixty (60) days of this Order, all state offices, departments, and agencies shall revise all existing written materials by replacing the terms "Latinx," "latinx," "Latinxs," or "latinxs" with "Hispanic," "Hispanics," "Latino," "Latinos," "Latina," or "Latinas." If the changes to the revised documents require promulgation under Arkansas law, then the requisite state office, department or agency shall promulgate the revised document in accordance with Arkansas law….

Note that there's no First Amendment problem here, since the Governor's order only affects state agencies' official documents; the government is allowed to control the content of government speech.

And a good thing Gov. Sanders is relying on the Real Academia Española, not the Fake Academia Española.