03/07/2013 05:58 EST | Updated 03/07/2013 06:04 EST

Barry Whiteley, Calgary Herald Letter Writer, Sparks Outrage Over 'Speak English' Submission (TWEETS)


Should Canadians be forced to speak one of the two official languages in public and is the topic worthy of a letter to the editor in a major newspaper? Barry Whiteley apparently thinks so, as the Calgary resident wrote in a message printed and posted online at The Calgary Herald.

The letter — which starts off with the line "being patriotic labels you a racist" and then goes on to recount an encounter the writer had with a group of "Italian-or Spanish-speaking men" — sparked criticisms on Reddit and Twitter as being overtly racist.

"The most racist letter you’ll read today was written by someone named Barry WHITELEY," tweeted Carla Ciccone.

Whiteley says he was at Westbrook Mall when he saw the group of men, and asked them to speak English or French since "Canada is bilingual only."

He continues:

I went back to my coffee. Not 10 seconds later, they started speaking their language again. I got up and yelled, "You want to speak your language, go back to your country." Two security guards approached me and said these men come there almost every day, and they can speak whatever language they want.

Reactions to the letter. Story continues below slideshow

To be fair, there were several other letters responding to the "Speak English" posted to the letter, including one saying "Shameful."

"What kind of person does this and then writes a letter to the editor and proudly trumpets his ignorance to the world?" wrote Len Dafoe.

The letter was also hotly debated on Reddit. Some were criticizing the newspaper for posting the letter in the first place

This isn’t the first letter to the editor to the newspaper that has caused a storm. American Walt Wawra became famous after he visited Calgary and told how he felt he was in danger while touring Calgary’s Nose Hill Park. He wished he had his firearm. That letter sparked a lot coverage including the hashtag #NoseHillGentlemen.

[h/t Reddit]