Sunday, June 17, 2007

Univision bans Spanish at upcoming Democratic presidential debate

The Spanish-language cable network, Univision, is getting ready to host a Democratic presidential debate, where it will make all candidates promise to speak only in English. This has Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, both fluent Spanish speakers, all riled up. Understandably, they want a chance to show off their skills. John Aravosis at AMERICAblog thinks Univision is making a big mistake:

This is ridiculous, certainly callous on a Spanish-language network during a debate meant to reach Latinos, and borders on racist as well. I really am increasingly tired of these debates having to follow all sorts of ridiculous rules that the candidates concoct. If some of the candidates refuse to show up because Univision refused to ban Spanish, let those candidates explain that to America's 20 million Latinos.
I have to disagree. It's not that I don't like Spanish- having studied abroad in Mexico and Spain, I'm fairly proficient at it myself. It's just that if the debate is supposed to be an argument about the pros and cons of various issues, then it seems unfair for some candidates to be able to speak a language that the others do not understand. How can the non-Spanish speakers respond to a point in a language they don't speak? A debate is not just a series of soundbites delivered to the audience- the other candidates need to be able to understand the arguments being made by their opponents.

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