“Speak English” Sign Deemed Discriminatory?

In America? In Philadelphia? Yes. Revisiting the Geno’s Steaks saga that started in May 2006, last month the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations has notified Joey Vento that his novelty sign that reads “This is America, when ordering speak English” is discriminatory. Now Mr. Vento has to defend his constitutional right to free speech against the City of Brotherly Love. Joey Vento, proprietor of Geno's Steaks in South Philly. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Vento “has enlisted the support of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, a conservative public-interest law firm in Atlanta.”

The complaint is patently ridiculous for two reasons other than we are talking about ink on paper, constitutionally protected free speech. First, no person has ever been refused service for not speaking English so, there are no “victims” of discrimination. Vento says if they can’t speak it, they just point to the picture of the sandwich he has at the counter, and they do business. Second, if someone can’t speak the language, how the hell could they read the sign in the first place to, ostensibly, be offended or discriminated against? There is no case.

It is a great case of harassment by city officials with way too much time and money on their hands.

UPDATE: March 21, 2008, Geno’s Steaks Prevails

5 thoughts on ““Speak English” Sign Deemed Discriminatory?”

  1. Yeah, good for the business owner.

    It’s about time we stand up and say SPEAK ENGLISH! This is America, not Cuba or Puerto Rico. We are American and we speak English!

  2. The thing is, it IS discriminatory. But so what? Discrimination has become a bad word and it shouldn’t be. Everyone discriminates every day. Every time you make a decisions you discriminate because you choose one thing over another. The thing not chosen has been discriminated against. That’s how decision making works. Without discrimination there are no decisions. The question is whether the discrimination is justified or not and whether the one discriminating has the right to make that decision.

    I submit that all private business owners have the right to discriminate in any way they choose whether in hiring, firing or in who they choose to do business with. If their decisions are bad they will suffer economically. It’s called the free market and there has never been a better anti-discrimination engine in the history of the world! But in this case I think the discrimination is both justified and the owner has the right to do it.

  3. the problem in america now is what language do we speak? I thought we were a English speaking country but its becoming more and more a mulit language it will not be long and the sign boards will not be big enough to post the wording in so many different tounges

  4. OK Joey, there’s an easy solution to all this beaurocRATic BS. Just change your sign to say “We speak ONLY English here”

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