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This is my translation from Slovak of what I thought was an excellent post by Ján Tralich at his blog at sme.sk.
My tongue does not belong to the state
Students and teachers in schools where the teaching language is Hungarian should get ready for an increased number of inspections of Slovak lessons. This is the response from Slovak National Party Minister of Education Ján Mikolaj to words over the weekend from Hungarian President László Sólyom, according to whom Hungarians in Serbia, Romania and Slovakia should learn the state language as a foreign language.
…they should learn the state language as a foreign language, one politician said. And in reaction, another politician submitted a proposed program to increase the quality of teaching of the state language in schools where the teaching language is that of national minorities. A program which, among other things, would require inspections of Slovak lessons which would then be used as a basis to “create innovation in the state’s educational program”.
The “State Tongue”
I don’t know when the state grew a tongue, since the state is just an abstract concept. When I want to go and take care of something official, I don’t go to the state but to an official office. Therefore, I see it more as an official language. And, under that label, it only has to be used at official offices.
The state doesn’t have the right to lecture me as to how I’m going to speak with my employees or customers, or in which language I’m going to carry out written communication with people, be it an advertisement, classified ad or a poster on my property or land or that of someone who has agreed to let me put it there. Why, Messrs. Politicians, are you interfering in my property? I didn’t authorize the state to do this in any fashion. I haven’t given my property to you, nor have I lent it to you.
Teaching the state tongue, and the state education program
I would also like to ask, dear Politicians, why do you want to decide which language I or my children shall speak? I don’t recall that I signed over the power of decision-making to you for myself and my posterity regarding my life or my body. Or is it that you want to declare that I’m your property? Because that’s how you’re behaving toward me and my children. Are we the modern slaves of your state system?
And the final question for you will be: Why are you using the forceful extortion which YOU call “taxation” and “contributions” to create a centrally-planned economy in education? (And not just there, but I’m only looking at the educational system right now.)
Leave it to me where to put my children, or to where they want to go. Leave what I and my children choose from the field to us, along with what we choose to learn. We want to choose freely among schools where curricula are created according to our current needs and demands, not according to your momentary moods, emotions or fits of power, nor according to the pressure and interests of lobbyists.
Don’t steal our property from us and don’t create a system based on violence (extortion/taxation) or the institutions (state schools, paid for from taxes) built upon that violence. We are just ordinary people and we don’t know how to compete with those powerful lobbyists who stand behind you and lobby you every day for laws which are acceptable to them and which privilege them versus us. We don’t want state-sponsored positive discrimination.
One pearl in closing: “On Monday, Prime Minister Róbert Fico labeled Sólyom’s words as an ‘insidious attack’ and as a ‘splintering of nationhood’.” Mr. Fico, when did I give you the legitimacy to rule over me? You, or any of your predecessors?
My life, my body and my property do not belong to the state… or do they?
Ján Tralich, Thursday 18 March 2010