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In Praise of Freedom of Speech

March 27, 1986

In response to Doris Mies Hunt, who called the San Marino English-language measure proposed by Kevin Forbes a "far-sighted vision," I'd like to suggest that she take a far-sighted look backwards at the U.S. Constitution. Our country was founded by foreigners. . . . They got on just fine without an official language. Our Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech. Can we, should we, deny anyone the freedom to speak or write in the language of their choice? During the 1800s, millions of immigrants from all corners of the globe came to America to seek the opportunities they knew were here, much in the same way people come today. No official language was needed then, or now.

When my sister, Peggy Fastnow, said that the language barrier caused a problem at school, she was in no way proposing an official language as a solution. If the measure to declare English the official language of San Marino were to become law, it would do nothing to remedy the situation, as it pertains only to business and not education. Fastnow's courageous statement was merely an observation.

Good or bad, a law proclaiming an official language is against everything our country stands for. It would not help. In fact, it would only undo the work already done by those trying to break down the barriers between races. America is not my country; it is not their country; it is not your country. America is our country. We need to respect that our and all the people it includes.

Chris Fastnow

SAN MARINO

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