So I read this local blog called The Lost Ogle and it basically offers Oklahoma "news" with a bit more cleverness (I say "news" because 1/3 of the time it's newsy, 1/3 of the time it's just making fun of local personalities, and 1/3 of the time it's just random junk). They recently reported on some post-tornado coverage and public reaction and it was sadly eye-opening.
As everyone knows, Oklahoma recently had a pretty bad round of tornadoes over a week's period in May. What many people don't know is that on May 31st a Guatemalan family tried to seek shelter in a storm drain (this is a huge no no, and it is often discussed in weather coverage what the appropriate places are to seek cover during a tornado. Hint: storm drains, under over passes, etc. are usually listed as places NOT to seek shelter), and most of the family were swept away due to fast moving water and hurricane force winds. It was extremely tragic.
So it begs the question: if we have a large population of individuals who have Spanish as their first language, should we not provide emergency weather announcements in that language?
Now, I don't know how difficult it is, but I do know that on Oklahoma weather streaming online, they have to include closed captioning (sometimes they get it very very wrong and hilarity ensues, but mostly they are able to figure it out). If they can do closed captioning in English, I'm curious if it cannot also be closed captioned in Spanish for our growing Hispanic population.
Well, this is essentially the question asked by local paper, "The Daily Oklahoman," which included a story about the Guatemalan family. On their website, they asked for comments from the public regarding whether Oklahomans felt that weather warnings should be issued in both English and Spanish and whether it would have/would save lives.
As TLO notes in their article "They just had to ask, didn't they." The response from so many people (who, mind you, were responding through facebook for the whole world to see their horrible, bigoted comments) were that the "Mexicans" need to learnz the Englishz if they're going to come here. Because clearly if you are in a country that speaks a different language than your native tongue, you should not only learn the language perfectly, but you should also learn all corresponding meteorological terminology and randomly used colloquial phrases meteorologists like to use to show that they're "one of the people."
TLO included a sampling of the comments that were left. I've included some for you nice people:
It's not hard, really. But when you don't understand the instructions of what to do when the siren does go off, it kinda doesn't help you much.
I know I hate seeing all those "Spanish" items in the store too. I mean, can't they just call them "skinny flat breads stuffed with delicious beans and meats" instead of "burritos" like normal people?!
I, on the other hand, do see Mexican areas spending some major bucks (and making some bucks back in tourism) "accomadate"-ing Americans.
And one of my favorites, which I have to include The Lost Ogle commentary on:
I hate to be this guy, but Sarajevo is the capital Bosnia and Herzegovina. It know I’m just splitting hairs because they are similar languages, but she probably should have learned Bosnian first. Just sayin’.
It really just makes me want to hold my head in shame. At least TLO does include a few comments that shows that not all Oklahomans are horrible, awful, bigoted people: