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Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese

posted at 11:16 am on April 27, 2010 by

Those are the languages in which Alabama currently gives its drivers license exams. If you think its nuts for people who can’t read English road signs — I mean, c’mon, Farsi? Thai? in Alabama? — to get drivers’ licenses, you’re not alone:

Requiring Alabama driver’s license tests in English only is a matter of public safety for the people of this state, according to Tim James, Republican candidate for Governor of Alabama.
“It makes common sense to ensure everyone with an Alabama driver’s license knows and understands traffic laws and traffic signs,” James said. “Offering driver’s tests in 12 other foreign languages may be politically correct, but it’s not in the public’s interest to license people to drive when they can’t read traffic signs. On a practical note, people who learn our language enable themselves to take better advantage of opportunities – cultural, economic and educational.”
He pointed to a 2004 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report that attributed a sharp increase in work fatalities in Alabama including a 72% increase in work-related traffic fatalities, to the fact that increasing numbers of employees and drivers could not read or understand warning signs in English.

Wow. So despite the ridicule of liberals bloggers — and even some conservatives like James Joyner — there is a factual basis for James’s “This Is Alabama. We Speak English” ad — which now has had more than 60,000 views.

Even Marc Ambinder is forced to admit the issue is at least “marginally” legitimate.

(Cross-posted at Right Wing News.)

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This is Alabama, we speak Southern english, honey :)

Good to see someone is taking a stand, it’s a start.

beachgirlusa on April 27, 2010 at 11:48 AM

What a ludicrous situation. You should prove you’re literate in English before you can take the test. Which should be in English.

And there’s the right way to talk about the situation or the as$hole way.

Joyner’s is the as$hole way.

Dave Rywall on April 27, 2010 at 12:33 PM

I agree, that’s ridiculous. I kind of like the “French, German, and Russian” touch myself. There are so many French, German, and Russian immigrants these days who can’t speak or read English. Especially in Alabama.

J.E. Dyer on April 27, 2010 at 12:36 PM

My gosh, when these people go to vote, are all these languages on the ballot for the candidates? I thought is was bad here in TX with spanish everwhere along with English. Sorry alabama, this is stupid!
L

letget on April 27, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Speak what you want at home, in public, whatever. But learn English if you want to stay here permanently.

Seriously, if you decided to emigrate to, say, Mexico, would you expect to not have to learn Spanish? It’s common sense. But it’s racist in one direction and one direction only to have that expectation.

WitchDoctor on April 27, 2010 at 1:00 PM

ernesto goes postal in 3…2…

hillbillyjim on April 27, 2010 at 1:05 PM

I went to Turkey this month. I don’t speak one single word of Turkish.

Now the question is:
Would they let me drive in Turkey if the signs were only in Turkish?

Of course not. It’s a stupid question and a stupid idea.

If you can’t comprehend the f*cking language on the road signs, DON’T drive!

mjk on April 27, 2010 at 6:49 PM

What? Klingon isn’t included? Alabama has no honor!

The Monster on April 28, 2010 at 9:05 AM

Oh, you have got to be kidding. Moderate this?

What? Kli‍ngon isn’t included? Alabama has no honor!

The Monster on April 28, 2010 at 9:06 AM

On my last driver’s tests I answered a question correctly under the current law which was in affect at the time, but it was marked incorrect because the test was based on the old book.

Slowburn on April 28, 2010 at 6:28 PM