Change is certain

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Our Spanish Streetalk question a couple of weeks ago appears to have struck a chord around town.

Interesting. I can’t say that I’m all that surprised, though. Any time a newspaper does something without prior promotion, day-of-publication explanation and post-publication analysis, it’ll likely generate some phone calls and letters. Truth be told, purely predictable newspapers are pretty boring to me (and probably to you, too).

I’m not at all conflicted about the “issue.” I’ll tell you, on a metaphorical level, we were saying there is a lot of conversation on the streets of Reno that happens in Spanish. What’s so threatening about that? Our country’s founders had every opportunity to make America an English-only country but created the First Amendment to allow for freedom of speech. What is more fundamental to speech than the language it is spoken in? America is supposed to enjoy the richness of language, right?

Well, a few of our readers explained the threat to me. They (and this is my interpretation of what was said to me) believe that the Spanish-language Streetalk is one more symptom that their world is changing without their permission. I don’t know what to say to those people because I think they are right. Can you imagine what it might feel like to be elderly and unable to communicate with the people around you? What if you were in an emergency room?

I understand the fear, but I don’t really understand some of the response. “I am never going to read the RN&R again,” doesn’t strike me as a very logical reaction. Why would folks forbid themselves all the relevant news and perspective, just because a few words weren’t relevant? The bottom line isn’t that they want to keep this newspaper for themselves, they want to forbid any part of it to others. By publishing Streetalk in Spanish, they believe we somehow legitimized not speaking English. And that made us part of the threat.