Heart-ache: Judge sentences defendants to learn English

I wonder where the Hot Air readership will come down on this one.

A judge known for creative sentencing has ordered three Spanish-speaking men to learn English or go to jail.

The men, who faced prison for criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, can remain on parole if they learn to read and write English, earn their GEDs and get full-time jobs, Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. said.

The men, Luis Reyes, Ricardo Dominguez and Rafael Guzman-Mateo, plus a fourth defendant, Kelvin Reyes-Rosario, all needed translators when they pleaded guilty Tuesday.

“Do you think we are going to supply you with a translator all of your life?” the judge asked them.

If they don’t learn, their parole’s revoked and they’re in the pen for up to two years. No one objects to the GED/job requirements, which are aimed at keeping them busy and forcing them to learn skills that will integrate them into society and help them succeed; the sticky point is the English demand, which is aimed at … keeping them busy and forcing them to learn a skill that will integrate them into society and help them succeed. For a taste of the criticism from the left, read this editorial featuring a headline that would make Geraldo Rivera proud. The point about arbitrary legal standards for what qualifies as “learning English” is fair enough, although there are of course objective yardsticks in this area. (Not unlike the GED, n’est-ce pas?) But keep reading for a descent into stupidity, beginning with an indignant reminder that speaking Spanish wasn’t an element of the crime — neither was being unemployed — and ending with a brainteaser about why the judge, in an English-speaking society, doesn’t sentence English-speakers to learn Spanish.