Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Illiterate Peasants according to Rep. Douglas Bruce... and Merriam-Webster


Bruce Told To Leave Podium After Mexican Comment

By Steven K. Paulson, AP Writer

DENVER (AP) ― Rep. Douglas Bruce was ordered to leave the podium of the Colorado House of Representatives on Monday after calling Mexican workers "illiterate peasants."

Bruce, a Republican with a history of provoking controversy with his statements and actions, made the comment during a debate on a bill designed to ease a farmworker shortage in Colorado.

It drew an audible gasp from the House.

"How dare you," said Rep. Kathleen Curry, a Democrat who was serving as chairwoman during the debate. She told Bruce he was no longer recognized to speak.

The bill under discussion would allow the state to help immigrant workers get temporary visas.

Bruce said the bill was about "having more aliens coming into Colorado" from Mexico.

"I would like to have the opportunity to state at the microphone why I don't think we need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in Colorado," Bruce said.

Rep. Mike May of Parker, the House minority leader and head of the GOP caucus, said legislative leaders were trying to determine what action to take against Bruce.

Rep. Terrance Carroll, a Democrat from Denver, said the remark could result in a formal ethics complaint that would require a hearing and possible suspension, censure or expulsion.

"There's no room for bigotry on the floor of the House," Carroll said.

Rep Jack Pommer said calling immigrants "illiterate peasants" is deplorable. He said even for the controversial Bruce, it's a new low.

"It's a horrible thing to say, but we've kind of gotten used to that with him," Pommer said. "He's just the sort of person who seems to enjoy insulting people, and enjoys the reaction he gets when he insults people."

Bruce defended his remarks later.

"I was expressing my view, which is a true statement, that I don't want up to 5,000 more illiterate peasants coming to Colorado," he said. "And I certainly don't want to have a government program to bring them here.

"I looked up 'illiterate' in the dictionary and it means somebody who is lacking in formal education or is unable to read and write," he said. "I don't think these people who are planning to come over here and pick potatoes or peaches are likely to have much of a formal education. I looked up the word 'peasant.' The word 'peasant' means a person who works in agricultural fields.

"These people, most of them, don't speak English. Most of them haven't had any formal education, that's why they're coming over here. I don't blame them for trying, but I don't think we should pave the way for more aliens to come here," he said.

In a statement, Consul General of Mexico in Denver Eduardo Arnal called Bruce's remarks "unfortunate" and "offensive."

"I believe these types of comments do not contribute to the discussion on immigration between Mexico and the United States nor in the search of solutions regarding this topic," Arnal said.

Bruce, of Colorado Springs, has had had other run-ins since arriving at the Capitol in January as a midterm appointee to fill a vacancy.

He became the first Colorado lawmaker censured by the House after he kicked a newspaper photographer for taking his picture during a prayer. Republicans later removed him the powerful State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee because he refused to co-sponsor a resolution honoring military veterans.

Bruce said he believed resolutions were a waste of time because they have no legal impact.

Before becoming a state lawmaker, Bruce was best known as the author of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution that limits taxes and government spending.

(© 2008 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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