I’ve gotten some heat from persons of Latin heritage over the last 24 hours due to yesterday morning’s “Loud Latinos” post. One of the gentler reprimands came last night around midnight from an HE reader named HoopersX. “Generally speaking I attempt to live my life by the physician’s creed of ‘first, do no harm,'” he wrote. “Sometimes it’s a lot easier to say it than live it. That said, gross generalizations of sex, creed or ethnicity don’t do much to advance one’s point of view.”
I responded as follows: “You say you try to live by the physician’s creed — ‘first, do no harm.’ The reason I wrote that piece yesterday morning is that harm was done to me, or rather my eardrums and sense of decorum. Those three braying, boomy-voiced guys in the cafe drew first blood. I was just quietly sitting and reading and these three donkeys turned the cafe into a Latino AM talk-radio show with the volume level turned up to 8 or 9.
“I lived for a year [11.08 to 11.09] in a middle-class Hispanic community in North Bergen, New Jersey and know whereof I speak. New York-area Latinos tend to converse (not always but often enough) in a loud and grossly exuberant manner. They speak much more loudly than they need to because…I don’t know why. Because they fucking feel like it? Because it’s in their blood? And like I said yesterday, I’ve been among Latin people in other parts of the world and they really do seem to be classier people than their New York cousins.
“As BCarter3 said yesterday, ‘It’s a class thing, not an ethnic thing. The further down the social scale you go, the louder the public conversations.’
“And this doesn’t make me Don Imus — it makes me someone who’s unafraid to say what he’s heard and seen and felt out in the real world. It’s not a rumor — common, coarse people are out there in force.
“We’re not living in a Henry James world or a John Reed-and-Louise Bryant world or an F. Scott Fitzgerald Egg Harbor world or an Ernest Hemingway-in-Paris world of the 1920s or even a Bob Dylan West Village world of the early 1960s. In many if not most of our 2010 social realms, refinement is out the window for the most part. The best seems to have come and gone in terms of culture. Things are cool in my realm — I like my gig and love what I do — but they do seem to be generally downswirling at the same time in an educational cultural Ms. Manners sense. As Jose Ferrer‘s Turkish Bey character said in Lawrence of Arabia, ‘I am surrounded by cattle.'”
A friend wrote the following this morning: “Hey, Jeff…not sure if you heard but your “Loud Latinos” post has caused a bit of a stir with the guys at Latino Review. And others on Twitter…it was a topic of much discussion on Twitter last night.”
This morning an email from Ralph Morales said, “You think Hispanics are loudmouths? We think uou [sic] are a jerk.”
Another guy called “Loud low-rent Latino” wrote, “Well, for your information I have observed savage white men speak and behave at obnoxious levels without consideration on Several occassions [sic] so next time muster up some balls and let those loud savage Latino men know that they are disturbing you or else move into a monastary [sic] everyone is free to be loud you narrow minded bigot.”
Did everyone get that? “Everyone is free to be loud.” I rest my case.