Posts Tagged ‘Paul Rodriguez’

First there was Aaron Schlossberg that New York City lawyer whose rant against restaurant Spanish-speakers went viral. In the video taken of Schlossberg’s exchange, he said he’d be calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to have the Spanish-speaking workers “kicked out of my country.”

He also complained to a restaurant manager, “it’s America” and “staff should be speaking English.” What the hey güey? “SEE IT: White man threatens to call ICE on Spanish-speaking workers at Midtown Fresh Kitchen.”

But like I told someone who asked — no, I don’t think he’s going to be disbarred for his off-the-wall outburst. Loyola Law Professor Jessica Levinson has it right — mostly.

NPS map symbol fishing.svgI say “mostly” because last time I looked, New York is one of a handful of remaining jurisdictions with a so-called ethical ‘catch-all’ rule. It’s Rule 8.4: Misconduct that says “A lawyer or law firm shall not: (h) engage in any other conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer.” In other words, if the discipline folks really want to hook you on something, there’s always the catch-all rule to do it.

You could ride a freight train through that vague tunnel of overbroad ambiguity.


Which means that the lawyer disciplinary folks in the Empire State could still parse out punishment — short of disbarment — based on the elasticity of that rule, especially when two NYC pols have filed bar complaints against angry Aaron. Politically speaking, I won’t be surprised if they come up with a wrist-slap of some kind. But beyond all that, it’s not like public opinion isn’t already pillorying the guy. SeeLawyer’s firm gets bad Yelp reviews after he is named as man in video ranting about Spanish-speakers.”

Just the same, fearful of its potential for abuse some commentators have called for eliminating the ‘catch-all,’ See “New York’s Catch-All Rule: Is It Needed? Part 1.”

What the güey in ELA?

I despise racism whenever and wherever it rears its ugly poisonous head. As a proud melanic Hispanic (aka Latino) and a native Spanish speaker who grew up in East Los Angeles (ELA), I’ve seen my share both then and now. I take comfort, however, in knowing that since ELA remains 98% Latino that a guy like Schlossberg wouldn’t get away with his kind of rant at, for example, an eatery like what was once my local King Taco — not at least without potentially unpleasant consequences.


Even so, I’m for free speech — even his despicable kind. Moreover, the last thing I’d want to see are the self-styled lords of lawyer discipline deciding permissible and impermissible speech. There are plenty of state and federal laws already on point dealing with discrimination without unleashing the agenda-driven prosecutorial paragons of partiality from the state bar.

But now there’s news of more. A story out of small-burg Montana talks about how last Wednesday a Border Patrol Officer stopped and detained two Spanish-speaking U.S. Citizen convenience store patrons for speaking Spanish. The New York Times reports, They Spoke Spanish in a Montana Store. Then a Border Agent Asked for Their IDs.”

So has it really come to this? Of course — it has. Again, what the hey güey?

But racial profiling? As the Times reports, “It had nothing to do with that,” the officer, who identified himself as Agent O’Neal, responded in the cellphone video. “It’s the fact that it has to do with you guys speaking Spanish in the store in a state where it’s predominantly English-speaking.”

And yet I ponder what will become of those immortal words of stand-up comic and fellow ELA homeboy Paul Rodriguez from his comedy album — “You’re in America now, speak Spanish”?


Credits: NPS map symbol fishing, National Park Service fishing symbol, Wikimedia Commons, public domain; Bakersfield, California. On the Freights. Helping a newcomer hop a freight, Partridge, Rondal, 1917-, Photographer (NARA record: 8464464, Wikimedia Commons, public domain; Boyle Heights King Taco, by Mimi C. at Yelp, fair use commentary; Paul Rodriguez album cover, fair use commentary.


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Reflecting on the large presence of Latino immigrants in the country, comedian Paul Rodriguez once remarked, “Youre in America Now Speak Spanish.”

But in Arizona and notwithstanding Paul’s ironic humor, Alejandrina Cabrera, an Arizona Candidate for San Luis, Arizona City Council has had her name stricken from the March ballot by Yuma County Superior Court Judge John Nelson. The reason? Although born in the U.S. and the product of an Arizona high school, Judge Nelson ruled Cabrera wasn’t qualified to run for office because her English language skills were “only a minimal survival range.” So much for the quality of an Arizona high school education when you manage to graduate even if you “No Hablo Ingles.”

And if you’re following the GOP presidential debates, Cabrera has no defense for not adequately learning, as Newt Gingrich says, “the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.”

farewells,goodbyes,hasta pronto,phrases,see you soon,signs,Spanish

Since 1910, an Arizona Enabling Act has required “that ability to read, write, speak, and understand the English language sufficiently well to conduct the duties of the office without the aid of an interpreter shall be a necessary qualification for all state officers. . . .” Moreover, with an approval of some 74% of the voters, Arizona made English the official language of the state in 2006.

But up until deciding to run for city office in San Luis, Arizona , the mostly monolingual Cabrera had nothing to worry about, especially with the town sitting on the Mexican border in the southwestern part of Arizona. It is 90% Latino.

And by the sounds of it, it’s a place very much like where I grew up, East Los Angeles, California. Like East L.A., you can spend your entire life in San Luis and never have to learn either The King’s English or Newt’s.

As Cabrera explained to the “New York Times,” “You go to market, it’s Spanish. You got to a doctor. It’s Spanish. When you pay the bills for the lights or water, it’s Spanish.”

According to the local paper, Bajo El Sol (Under the Sun to the English monolingual), Judge Nelson’s decision was largely based on the testimony of linguist William Eggeberg who also said there was little doubt that Cabrera has English“comprehension problems.”

photoAs for Cabrera’s campaigning, since it was almost entirely in Spanish, poor English comprehension seemed hardly a drawback. “I speak little English,” she admitted. “But my English is fine for San Luis.”
So this raises the obvious question, if your English “is fine” for your mostly Spanish-speaking constituents, how is talking to them in English instead of Spanish an electioneering asset? After all, as Paul Rodriguez opined, Cabrera has learned that speaking Spanish is the thing to do – – – especially in San Luis, U.S.A.
Photo credit: “Learn to Speak English” by wstera2 via Creative Commons-licensed content for noncommercial use requiring attribution and share alike distribution at Flickr.

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