city panel says "speak english" signs can stay up

This week in Philadelphia, a city panel ruled that the owner of a famous cheeseteak shop did not discriminate when he posted signs asking customers to speak English: 'Speak English' signs allowed at Philly shop. I guess he's not really interested in making money.

The sign reads "This is America: WHEN ORDERING 'PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH'" and apparently does not violate the city's Fair Practices Ordinance. Okay, so it's not illegal. But it damn sure makes me uncomfortable. Shop owner Joe Vento has said he posted the signs in October 2005 because of concerns over immigration reform and an increasing number of people in the area who could not order in English.

While he may not admit it, I think the sign represents an underlying sentiment of intolerance and discrimination towards immigrants and racial minorities. Did Vento really have legions of customers coming up to his counter literally trying to order in Spanish or Mandarin? Or did he just get tired of paying customers who did not quite speak English good?

As hard as this might be for native English speakers to grasp, and as convenient as it would be for everyone to possess the magical ability to instantly master English, for most folks, learning a new language takes time and patience. This is the reality of the changing world you live in, Mr. Vento. Sometimes, all you wanna do is order a freaking cheesesteak.

angry archive