Schmuck of the Week

Shmuck: Dave Schultheis

Eighty Latinos died in traffic accidents in Colorado in 2008, or roughly one quarter of the total number of people who were killed in car crashes. Of the eighty, 59 were unbuckled. So it made sense for the Colorado Department of Transportation to -- for the first time ever -- run a TV advertisement in Spanish warning people that they should buckle up. After all, the commercial only cost $15,000 to produce -- less than the cost of a new car. It was paid for out of $5.3 million in federal transportation money, according to news reports.

But state senator Dave Schultheis, a Republican from Colorado Springs, believes there is something even more important here: the integrity of our very language itself.

Yes, the good senator was quoted by the Denver Post saying, "All these ads are going to do is provide one more assimilation off-ramp for new arrivals. Bilingualism in our buckle-up ads -- just like bilingualism in our schools -- will only encourage the further balkanization of our culture, reduce the pressure on new immigrants to learn English and make it harder in the long run for immigrants to become Americans."

And stay alive.

"And where is this going to end?" the forward-thinking Schultheis asked the Rocky Mountain News. "Can we expect a new round of PSAs from CDOT this year in Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese or some other foreign language?"

Senator Schultheis, usted es un gran Shmuck.

For previous Shmucks, see our Shmuck of the Week archive.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes