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.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.