Following up on the recent ruling by a Ninth Circuit panel prohibiting the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public classrooms, the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that the use of a specific language by any government official is unconstitutional. In what promises to be an irrevocable ruling, the Chief Justice gave the opinion: "The use of a language, such as English, in public settings, whether the use be verbal or in writing, abridges the privileges of any listener or reader who prefers another language, or no language at all, and is therefore in direct violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution." Unlike most recent rulings by the Court, the decision to remove language from government offices was nearly unanimous. The sole dissenter gesticulated dramatically after the majority opinion was entered, but offered no other comment.
The otherwise controversial case was brought to the Court by John Tinker, a professor at a state university. Frustrated by long hours and consistently low teaching evaluations, Tinker enrolled in a colleague's class, then brought a suit against the university in October 1995. "It's not fair that students like him better. It must be a language issue. He should teach like I do. Then I could understand him." Nearly thrown out by a state court as frivolous, the case trickled up through the hierarchy until it reached the Supreme Court two months ago. Tinker, since denied tenure for his inability to teach, commented vociferously in terms unsuited for print. He did, however, seem glad to have won his case.
The Court's ruling is expected to lead to vast overruns in the federal budget for this fiscal year due to the need to redesign and reissue all forms and documents. With few exceptions, government employees around the nation were despondent. Off the record, an unnamed official told us that life around the water cooler had more or less disappeared. "We can't even talk to one another," he complained. Several congressional aides committed suicide shortly after the Court announced its decision. Two notes left behind were promptly seized and destroyed by the FBI. As one spouse explained, "Tammy spent her life writing tax codes. They shouldn't have taken that away from her."
Election officials scrambled to reclaim ballots for congressional and gubernatorial primaries, which were filled with inappropriate written information about candidates. An anonymous comment delivered via FAX suggested that the ruling has convinced J. Danforth Quayle to enter the next Presidential race. "He has no langwidge problums, and can leed the cuntery with any tung. This thyme, I will be Batman!" Some elections are actually expected to become easier without language. In Florida, Governor Bush acknowledged the decision by designing the new ballots himself. Republican districts will receive a single sheet with a large circle, while Democratic districts will receive an entertaining book of mazes. His competitor, Attorney General Janet Reno, refrained from comment.
Europeans were quick to accept the change. "This is better than chad!" exclaimed an enthusiastic Frenchman at a sidewalk café. Prime Minister Tony Blair echoed these sentiments, suggesting that he looked forward to more intellectual discussions with U.S. leaders. Closer to home, the Quebecois hit the streets to protest the continued use of English in the greater part of Canada. "N'abrégez pas mes privilèges!" read several prominent signs.
In an effort to give aid, the American Medical Association offered to train all government officials in the use of medical scrawl. Used primarily for medical records and prescriptions, medical scrawl is widely believed to be unintelligible to all living creatures. "We certainly can't understand it," stated a high- ranking AMA official, "even if we wrote it ourselves. There is some evidence of cognition in monkeys, but only when they're exposed to warehouses full of scrawl. We don't expect to see that level of exposure." When told of this offer, a government official smiled appreciatively, then began to doodle to demonstrate her willingness to study the technique. The Chief Justice, on the other hand, seemed hesitant, and his doodles had some resemblance to the Library of Congress.
One division substantially impacted by the Court's decision is the Office of the Treasury, which must reissue all bills and coins. To make matters worse, all descriptive information has been excised from official versions of the federal budget, leaving only columns of figures. Despite these extreme hardships, the workers seemed nearly ecstatic. A nearby construction worker was available for comment, "New houses, new cars. Why do you expect them to be sad?"
The Court is now silently mulling over the validity of the Constitution, which is in clear violation of itself. No ruling is expected.
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