The Justice Department’s search for “Ebonics” translators is noted at several places, including The Smoking Gun, who files it under “bizarre”:
AUGUST 23–The Department of Justice is seeking to hire linguists fluent in Ebonics to help monitor, translate, and transcribe the secretly recorded conversations of subjects of narcotics investigations, according to federal records.
A maximum of nine Ebonics experts will work with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Atlanta field division, where the linguists, after obtaining a “DEA Sensitive” security clearance, will help investigators decipher the results of “telephonic monitoring of court ordered nonconsensual intercepts, consensual listening devices, and other media”
Tanker at Mostly Cajun picks up the meme with his usual savoir faire, and commenter “Jett” remarks, in part:
It is a sad situation when the feds are so stupid and divorced from the “real” U.S. that they can’t understand basic street. Hard to imagine a clearer expression of institutional racism and the now well-known fed “us vs. them” culture.
Sad, maybe — the phrase “rage-inducing” comes to mind — but surprising? No.
The only thing that’s genuinely reprehensible here is the politically correct designation “Ebonics” instead of the culturally and, well, physically correct “urban black dialect.” The dialect can be as impenetrable as Cockney, especially when the speakers are deliberately emphasizing it with the specific purpose of foiling eavesdroppers. I would offer a bet that Jett would have problems listening over an intercepted cell-phone channel to a couple of South Side Chicagoans who knew, or assumed, that the Feds had their number, and it isn’t surprising that people wishing to wiretap would want people who could do that.
What’s hysterically tragic is that the form of the request, added to Civil Service regulations and procedures, guarantees that what they will actually get is academic “experts” who have extensive and impressive qualifications from studying urban black dialect, but couldn’t get a cup of coffee from a McDonalds half a mile south of Midway airport. The result will be a million dollars (9 “interpreters” x $100K++ salary and benefits) pissed away to support the wacko left-racist professariat, and no useful support for the wiretapping effort. I’m no fan of the Drug Wars, but if they’re going to do it at all they ought to at least try to do it right.