During the current session of the state legislature, I have found it embarrassing to watch the asinine attempts of a dozen lawmakers as they have worked, once more, to sully the reputation of the Volunteer State.

I am referring to the proposed driver’s license tests in English-only legislation (SB0063/HB0262). This bill is not only insulting, but is a slap in the face to those (including our governor, business leaders and, apparently, every one of the gubernatorial candidates) who have toiled diligently to bring new jobs to Tennessee through their outstanding industrial recruiting.

The idiocy is exacerbated by the Arlington, Va.-based ProEnglish advocacy group, which is known for its racist viewpoints, and is the primary funding force behind this latest effort (they tried, well-funded but failed in Nashville).

I was even more upset when these out-of-state instigators attacked a friend of mine, who also happens to be one of the nation’s top corporate leaders.  That leader is Chris Karbowiak, who was recently named Chief Administrative Officer for Bridgestone Americas, one of our country’s leading corporations which happens to be headquartered in Nashville…as in Tennessee.  Chris is not only one of the top executives in the country, she is actively involved in Middle Tennessee’s non-profit community, currently serving as Chairman of the Board of the Music City Bowl and on the board of the Tennessee State Museum Foundation, among many others.

Karbowiak was verbally assaulted, primarily by rabble-rousers from outside our borders, because she had the audacity (ne courage) to speak out against this small-minded legislation…a bill which, if passed, would clearly send the wrong message to all of the 740 foreign-owned companies in our state that provide more than 100,000 jobs, including our newest neighbor Volkswagen, and companies who are considering bringing much-needed jobs to Tennessee. She’s tough enough not to let these anonymity-clad barbs disturb her.  But, as her friend, it does distress me as well as others.

What to do? I believe there may be an alternative which could prove quite effective in curbing just this type of legislation. My suggestion is to have an enlightened legislator (and there are many) introduce a resolution that all written and oral communication circulated by members of the general assembly must be in CORRECT ENGLISH ONLY.  I’ll bet every teacher in the state would support this effort. But, the main benefit of such a resolution is that it might potentially shorten the length of the legislative sessions by more than 50 per cent!

All state citizens would benefit; even those vocabulary-challenged members who might actually have to take the time to learn something new. Whether it’s this idea or not, let’s divert support from the actions of our learning-impaired and election year-pandering legislators who are tarnishing the great state of Tennessee.


Bo Roberts is a Nashville marketing consultant and managing partner of Roberts Strategies.