Insomnia Log

This is what keeps me awake at night???

Who needs sleep? (well you’re never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep? (tell me what’s that for)
Who needs sleep? (be happy with what you’re getting,
There’s a guy who’s been awake since the second world war)

-- words and music by Steven Page & Ed Robertson

Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States

Everything you need to know about me can be found in my posts

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Combatting Illiteracy

Every place has its loose cannon, and Colorado is no exception. Ours is Douglas Bruce, who was appointed late last year by his party (the Republicans) to fill a vacant seat in the State Legislature. However, I'm sure there are now many Republicans who regret making that mistake.

Bruce's theatrics have been going on for years. He is the author of the so-called Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR), which has single-handedly done more to cripple the state government than anything else. His goofiness in the State Legislature started even before he was sworn in. He delayed his swearing in ceremony a few days past the opening session just so he could exploit a loophole in Colorado's term limit law and get the opportunity to run for one extra term. Then, he applied for per diem expenses for the days prior to his delayed swearing in! (He later introduced a bill to eliminate per diem payments.) Since then, he was censured by the legislature for kicking a photographer who was taking his picture during a session. He was the sole member of the legislature to vote against honoring our veterans and military, and lost his post in the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee as a result. He's come out against many aspects of his party's agenda, including a pine beetle mitigation fund and specialty license plates. And the list goes on.

It had been a while since we'd heard from Bruce, so it was reassuring to find out about this recent controversy. In his arguments against a bill that would have allowed additional agricultural guest workers from Mexico, Bruce famously said, "I don't think we need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in Colorado."

Of course, his microphone was figuratively turned off, but he has continued to defend his remarks (as have his supporters.) It seems that he checked the dictionary definitions of "illiterate" and "peasant", and didn't see what all the fuss was about, since the migrant workers clearly fit the definitions of both.

Well, Mr. Bruce clearly has problems with the English language himself. The word "illiterate" refers to someone who can't read or write. What evidence does he have that the migrant works fit that description? According to my research, 91% of all Mexicans are literate, and there is no reason to believe that the agricultural workers he refers to are any different.

Bruce is having a hard time why people are offended by his words. Well, according to the Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language, "illiterate is pejorative when used to describe people who can read and write, but not to a level acceptable to the speaker." Yes, the word is commonly used as an insult by people who think they know more than someone else. You can't use a word that is a common insult and then feign surprise when people get upset.

Similarly, the word "peasant" is a mask for something else here. Its true definition is family laborers who work on a small plot land they lease from a landlord. Again, the word is often used as an insult by people who feel superior to poor farmers.

In fact, you'd think that Bruce would have a better understanding of the word "peasant", as he himself is a landlord. He has been cited on several occasions for poorly maintaining his rental properties. Oh, and by the way, he recently refused to recuse himself and voted against a bill that would crack down on landlords like himself. Pretty cool, huh?

Wait, there's more. Just a couple days ago, Bruce was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint at the legislature and ordered to stay away from the accusing woman.

Class clown, maybe. But somehow I don't see Bruce maintaining his seat much longer. He's up for reelection this year, and facing stiff competition for the Republican nomination from Iraq war veteran Mark Waller. I predict the headlines from the state capital are not going to last much past the next general election.

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