Vermont’s official motto “Freedom and Unity” is easy to like, but a middle school student’s suggestion last month that the state also adopt a latin motto has brought out some ridiculous protests online. The latin motto “Stella quarta decima fulgeat” is the suggestion of a middle school student and was introduced in a Senate bill.
The thread on the WCAX story page, reposted by Gawker.com in the story “Nativist Idiots Mistake Latin for Spanish, Totally Lose Their Shit” includes some particularly awful stuff.
“No, this is America, and our language has been English from the beginning. We don’t need to change now for a few.”
“How do you say idiotic senator in Spanish? I’d settle for deport the illegals in spanish as a backup motto>”
I shared the Gawker.com link on my Facebook page and most of my friends had a great time laughing at the foolish posts and coming up with their own Latin mottos for our Fourteenth Star state. After the laugh-fest is over I can’t help but be concerned about how the knee-jerk posting and reposting of content reveals and amplifies messages of bigotry and ignorance that propagate too easily online.
Don’t these people stop to ask themselves, “Does this make me sound like a bigoted jerk?” I guess not.
At the same time this cute bill about a new state motto is getting criticized and the racist jerks are getting lampooned by my comrades, there is a much more important bill about online behavior under discussion in the Vermont House.
VTDigger’s story covered Rep. Kesha Ram‘s bill, H.105 that seeks to criminalize the act of revenge-posting nude photographs online by ex-lovers. With sexting as a commonplace practice, it’s not suprising that this issue has had an impact on many young people, especially young women.
With the freedom of the internet, and the power to share ideas and content widely with ease, comes great responsibility. Are we ready to regulate the worst of this behavior by criminalizing revenge porn? I think so. Can we ever get the idiots to hesitate before pressing “post” on the WCAX comments page? Less likely, but a guy can hope.
UPDATE: Credit where credit is due: John Walters originally posted the motto story on the Vermont Political Observer. My bad for perpetuating an injustice.