Since 2007, police officers in Dallas have issued dozens of traffic tickets to drivers who don’t speak English. All but one of the motorists cited were Hispanic. The police department has acknowledged it erred—that, in fact, no laws were violated—and is investigating the incidents. But what does the pattern mean?
The ticketing may have been motivated by racism: “Some will call this an honest mistake,” says Ruben Navarrette Jr. in the San Jose Mercury News. But doing so involves overlooking the fact that the “mistake occurred at least 38 times” at the hands of 20 separate police officers. “Is this racism—maybe a new strain of that ugly virus?” If not, “what should we call it? Linguistic profiling?"
"'Crime' in Dallas"
Local cops shouldn’t do immigration enforcement: Whatever the reason these particular tickets were given, the explanation is “likely to be highly embarrassing to the Dallas authorities,” says The New York Times in an editorial. But the incidents are merely part of a broader national debate over what role local authorities should play in immigration enforcement—and proof that outsourcing the task to local police tends to yield poor results.
"Driving without English"
Law or no law, drivers who can’t read English are dangerous: Perhaps drivers should be able to demonstarate a basic proficiency in English, says Bryan McAffee in Right Juris. "There are safety signs, traffic signs, and other situations where having a command of the English language might make a whole lot of sense. The problem is you have to make it apply to everyone."
"Dallas police issue tickets for not speaking English"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- If Democrats abandon immigration reform after Tuesday's likely loss, they will turn 2016 into a debacle
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Beware of Splenda: The backlash against artificial sugars
- How the South's ugly racial history is haunting ObamaCare
- Stop making fun of philosophy and read some philosophy
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- Sorry, we will not all be having sex with robots in the future
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How to live a long life, according to science
Subscribe to the Week