POSTED ON OCTOBER 6, 2010:
Love Letters/Hate Mail
Open Your Eyes
(In response to "Narrow Minded" in the Sept. 23-29 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly.)
Mr. Cumpston's critique completely missed the point of the article, which is not surprising given his obvious anti-religious sentiments.
Pastor Costanzo's article is not about the centrality of humanity but about our ability to respond -- to choose -- to follow Jesus; this is what makes us special. And, yes, believing in God does include the viewpoint that, because God did indeed create us in His image, we are special in His view.
If Mr. Cumpston chooses to not believe that, then that is his choice. To consider others that don't agree with him, based upon their relationship with God (or anything else), to be "arrogant" ironically illustrates the very narrow-mindedness of which he accuses Pastor Costanzo.
Spreading the Word
I really appreciate UTW. You represent the diversity and culture of our city well by providing all sorts of stories and editorials from varying perspectives.
I particularly enjoy Eric Costanzo's "Above & Beyond." It would be great if you had him write every single week.
I write today about the proposal that has been made to make English the official language of Oklahoma because, you see, I know few people in Oklahoma who actually speak and write in "English." I am concerned that if Oklahoma really adopts English as its official language we will pretty much be rendered mute.
The folks, a German word, who claim to be red-blooded Americans and want English to be Oklahoma's official language are no more red blooded than my cousin Barack or me. My birth certificate says I was born in Independence and his that he was born in Honolulu. Some people claim he was born in Kenya and some say I was born on another planet. In any event, I think I have as much reason to claim to be an American as the next redneck and to speak the local dialect of English that I speak and call "Okie Spanglish" as the next hombre. Comprende?
The version of English that I was originally taught in Western Missouri, where I was born and raised, was a little different from what I hear spoken in Oklahoma. When I was 17-years-old, I joined the military and began a journey of discovery that has taken me all over the place. Shortly after arriving in San Antonio in 1961, in the USAF, I began hearing and seeing words that I had never heard or seen before. Words like burritos, fajitas and tacos. I then met airman who talked about bagles, matzs and locks and such. Dang, I was learning new words almost every day.
I ended up going to places like New Jersey and London and other places across the waters and north of the border. I found out that those people thought that they were speaking English too but it wasn't the English that I was taught and that I and most of the Okies that I know speak. For example, I once had a hotel maid in England ask if she could "hoover" while I make a call on a public "tele" outside of a "loo." It took me a moment or two to translate her English into my English. A lot of the times during my travels, I ran into people who claimed to be speaking English who said things to me that I did not understand at all.
The words that they used weren't in my English dialect vocabulary.
Having spent 67 years learning the English that I speak, I am a bit worried about the "English" that the Oklahoma legislature proposes that I learn to speak and write. Let me give you an example of what concerns me. As you may have heard, the French are pretty uppity about their language. I once went to Paris and I'll be gosh darned if them folks didn't want to speak English to me. They thought that I should speak French. They did not want me to use works like "computer" to talk about my computer and they wouldn't let anyone use the word computer in any publication. If this idea of forcing people to speak and write English as the official language of Oklahoma is adopted in November, am I going to have to speak and write some specific dialect of English? If so, who is going to decide what version of English I am going to speak and write? Is there going to be a new state "Department of Official Oklahoma English", staffed by English Nazis? Sorry, we will not be able to use that word any more. Like the French, are we going to have an approved list of English names for our children so that we have to stop giving our kids goofy names? What about Indian names, will they be verboten?
What scares me about this English only idea is that I won't be able to order food at the Mexican restaurant where my wife and go for nachos and a margarita every once in a while. Will we have to order a plate of corn chips smothered in cheese and refried beans with a bowl of beak of the rooster on the side with a drink of lime juice and cactus juice fermented in that stuff that I that I will not be able to name by name with salt.
In addition, the state prison will not be able to have its annual rodeo any more where prisoners use lariats to lassos steers. Dang, no more gay caballeros in Oklahoma.
You see, Hombres, I figure that I have as much right to speak my version of English as do my German, English and Latino friends and neighbors. James Michner observed once that the Mexicans won at the Battle of the Alamo and they're probably going to re-take Texas. Given that Guymon is the most Hispanic city in Oklahoma, I suggest that the crackers that want to make English the official language of Oklahoma should start increasing their understand of Spanish because, you see, the Red River is not much of a barrier to immigration into our state from Texas.
In conclusion, mi amigos, I suggest that you forget about English as the official language of Oklahoma and start learning Okie Spanglish or move a little further north of say None. Of course, you might need to learn a little Inuit is you do so because those up there think that they speak the official language of the new world and it ain't English.
In conclusion, all I have to say is: Hasta la vista, to all ya'all and please vote "No" in November.
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