Latin motto idea draws fire; teen backer takes it in stride

AP News
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Posted: Feb 06, 2015 11:01 AM

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont student's proposal for a state motto in Latin drew a burst of Internet fire from people who apparently confused the Romans' language with Latin America, but the teenager is taking it in stride.

Sen. Joe Benning, a Caledonia County Republican, filed a bill on behalf of St. Johnsbury Academy ninth-grader Angela Kubicke, who proposed that Vermont add to its English-language motto, "Freedom & Unity," one in Latin: "Stella quarta decima fulgeat."

That means "The 14th Star Shines Bright," honoring Vermont's history as the 14th state to join the Union following the original 13 colonies.

When television station WCAX did a story about the proposal, its website's comment section lit up with vitriol, with many seemingly linking the Latin motto to the immigration debate. Those comments were followed by others trying to deliver a combined lesson in language, history and geography.

Kubicke is scheduled to join other Latin students from around Vermont in testifying about the proposed motto before the Senate Government Operations Committee next week.

Benning said his young constituent was responding to the fuss with "grace and fortitude." As for his own thoughts on the Internet debate, Benning recalled the motto of his law school newspaper: "Res ipsa loquitur" or "The thing speaks for itself."

Kubicke called the Internet reaction "a little bit appalling. It's a lack of knowledge. I think that's why this motto is very important. It sheds a light on the classics."

She added with a laugh: "Maybe people will learn the difference between Rome and Mexico."