Mock-Spanish ringtone

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed May 10 03:10:14 UTC 2006,1,1232931.story?coll=sns-ap-nation-headlines

Cingular Pulls Offensive Ringtone
By Associated Press
7:48 PM PDT, May 9, 2006

BROWNSVILLE, Texas -- Cingular Wireless LLC pulled a ringtone from its
Web site Tuesday after learning that it carried a message the company
called "blatantly offensive."

The cell phone company became aware of the ringtone, which uses mixed
English and Spanish and threatens deportation, after an inquiry from a
reporter for The Brownsville Herald.

The newspaper reported in its online edition Tuesday that the ringtone
started with a siren, followed by a male voice saying in a Southern
drawl, "This is la Migra," a slang term for the Border Patrol.

"Por favor, put the oranges down and step away from the cell phone. I
repeat-o, put the oranges down and step away from the telephone-o. I'm
deporting you back home-o," the voice continued.

Hispanic activists called the product racist.

"It's horribly offensive and a disgusting thing," Brent Wilkes,
national executive director of the League of United Latin American
Citizens, told the newspaper.

Cingular removed the $2.49 ringtone, among thousands available for
downloading from its Web site, Tuesday afternoon, said company
spokesman Mark Siegel.

"Needless to say, we deeply regret and apologize for it ever being
there in the first place. The ringtone is blatantly offensive," he

The ringtone became available between late February or early March and
was downloaded eight times, Siegel said. It was developed by Barrio
Mobile, Siegel said. Barrio Mobile is a brand owned by Lagardere
Active North American, the U.S. division of a French media company.

Cingular officials were reviewing the process used to screen
ringtones, which are developed by several other companies, he said.

The American Dialect Society -

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