I referenced this in a tweet earlier so it probably deserves a little explanation. First a little background…
I come from a small Wisconsin town populated by a lot of Polish, Belgian, German, and Scandinavian decedents. When I was a kid my dad would listen to the local radio station every morning as he got ready for work. The local morning newscasters would recap high school sporting events, read headlines from the local newspaper, read obituaries, etc. It drove my dad nuts every time the morning DJ—who had been broadcasting the local news for decades—would time and time again mispronounce surnames of local residents on-air. It was a huge pet peeve of his that I must have inherited.
I mention this because this pet peeve has surfaced in recent weeks up here at the Capitol as I watch legislators repeatedly butcher the names of people who are testifying before their committees. Maybe it’s not a big deal to some people, but I find it incredibly insulting to Montana citizens who take time away from their jobs or families or businesses to come before the Legislature to testify on issues they care deeply about only to have members of the committee butcher their names on TV and over the Internet.
In some cases the people who continually endure the name-butchering have testified several times throughout the session before the same committee members. Legislators regularly call these people up to the podium to ask them questions. Over and over again certain members of the committee make little-to-no effort to learn how to pronounce these peoples’ names, and they’re really not that difficult to pronounce.
I suggest that if a committee member can’t learn to pronounce the name of a testifier after the second attempt then they should lose their privilege to ask questions. Write it down. It’s not that hard.
Why am I making such a big deal about this? Because it’s about respect.
If Legislators want citizens to respect the work they are doing up here, then they should show a similar level of respect to the people who go out of their way to take part in the governing process.