Order in English Sign Case: What legal basis?

Unless you’re from around Philly you probably haven’t heard of this story, but basically a guy who owns possibly the original Philly cheese steak shop was brought before the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission for having a sign at his restaurant that says “This is America. Order in English”

Now before you all jump to conclusions let me clear up a few things:

  1. I think the sign is stupid and I think it’s offensive. It’s definitely an anti-immigrant statement.

  2. I don’t think the sign is or even should be illegal. It doesn’t promote or incite violence and it should be protected speech.

  3. I’m sure there will be people here that will remember my recent comments on the dishwasher that had his money confiscated and simply reiterate the old and stupid idea that I’m a racist. I am not. I believe in high level of tolerance for cultural differences unless they incite violence or lead to violence or oppression.

All that aside, What I don’t understand is under what legal basis does this commission operate?

The only thing I have found that even indicates that this absurd commission doesn’t have infinite power to destroy free speech rights is this:

And even if Vento is ordered to remove his sign, he can appeal that order to Common Pleas Court.

This is the kind of thing that disgusts me about our country right now. We are standing idly by while all kinds of rights are being weakened by retarded government nonsense like this. Unfortunately there are very few politicians that are even talking about this kind of thing because generally they’re all a bunch of wimps.

Anyway, if anybody understands this case better and can explain how all of a sudden our free speech rights are subject to a city commission I’d appreciate it.

Legal or illegal, SpoofyChop?

I read the article.

The charge is that it is discrimination and illegal under the Fair Housing Practices Act.

I googled the Fair Housing Practices Act and read it.

I think they have a case, because the sign implies discrimination of commercial services on the basis of national origin or disability (mutes are not welcome).

Fair Housing Practices Act.

Interesting. I think it’s a weak case on that basis. Apparently there was no evidence he ever turned anybody away for not ordering in English.

Like I said, I do think the sign is offensive. I just don’t think it’s even close to being as offensive as magnet’s sign–which of course is repulsive.

Possibly because they were turned away by the sign?

The signs have made Geno’s owner Joey Vento a hero to some, who believe the U.S. is being torn apart by immigrants who refuse to assimilate.

With cheesesteak denial!

Wow. That’s one of the bigger stretches I’ve seen. An act that pretty clearly regulates use and occupancy of housing and commercial property (as in, renting, leasing, living in, and working in such property) is suddenly extended to buying a sandwich from a restaurant.

Don’t get me wrong Lunch of Kong, I’m not attacking your logic and understand how you read it that way (though I do think a big clue is that it does not relate to “commercial services,” but services in connection with commercial property, which is a really big difference; the entire statue revolves around leasing and use of property, not services). But my ass is purple if this is the type of thing that statue was ever intended to prevent.

I actually believe that this would be overturned, because I am comfortable that the “use of commercial property” will (and should) be interpreted along the lines of what I stated above).

For that sign to make sense, they should post a representative from the Oxford English Dictionary in the restaurant who can then go around and correct everybody’s speech. He can start with the owner.

I was born and raised in Philly, and let me tell you, the real crime here is someone claiming Geno’s is the original home of the cheesesteak. Pat’s people.

Side benefit being the management apparently aren’t assholes, or are at least less obvious about it.

Yeah, this crime really punishes itself – guy puts out an “I’m a jerk” warning across the street from another diner with the exact same specialty. Mind you, they’re a little strange about how you order there, too.

Can’t wait to see Lou Dobbs get him on his show and congradulate him on his tough stand for America’s traditions and history.

Someone help me out here. I think it’s reasonable to expect immigrants, foreign nationals, and anyone else from a foreign country for whatever reason to interact with people in the country they’re in in that country’s native language. I’m pretty sure if I go to France or Japan and don’t bother to even try to learn enough of the language to order a meal from a fast food joint, I’d be considered the asshole. But apparently if it gets reversed, I’m again the asshole, and worse, a racist, bigoted one at that.

So given that I think asking folks in America where the predominant language is English to interact in public with public, english speaking businesses in english is a-ok, can someone please tell me which specific race it is I hate? Because I’m apparently having trouble sussing it out on my own. I don’t look at random people from other countries and feel revulsion swell up or such, but since I must be a racist, I need a bit of help figuring out which race/ethnicities it is I hate. Anyone?

Immigrants assimilate way faster today than they used to.

The 1990 census indicated that nearly 20 million inhabitants had been born outside the United States, about 8 percent of the total population. Eight million, or 40 percent, of those born overseas became naturalized citizens. Early in the 20th century it took immigrants three generations to switch from their native language to English. At the end of the 20th century, the shift to English was taking only two generations. This is not only because of the daily exposure to English-language movies, television, and newspapers, but because entry-level jobs in service industries require more communication skills than did the factory jobs that immigrants took a century or more ago.

(Yes, I know that’s not an official citation, but I can’t find one. Trust me it’s true.)

The immigrants of today are no where near as “alien” to the public as, say, the Eastern European influx of the 1880s.

Should be illegal for the criminally misplaced apostrophe.

Here’s a question: What’s the legal difference between a sign that says “Our staff only speak English and as such we only accept orders in that language” and the one in the OP?

I don’t have a clear comment on the case and am not sure if he’ll be forced to remove the sign or not (not very many non-English speakers in South Philly) but Geno’s employees are generally very rude people. Just thought I’d share.

Any businessman doing this is a dick, even if not a racist. If I had a similar establishment nearby, I’d laugh myself all the way to the bank, and have huge signs up outside saying “everyone welcome here” in many different languages. I’d add translations to the menu, and really go for it.
I’d coin it in.

I agree with you on this. It’s certainly an asshole sign, but illegal?! The parallel implied with the “white’s only” IMHO just doesn’t hold up.

On the other hand, it seems to me there are much more pressing matters in the US than whether some asshole diner owner gets dragged through the coals a bit. I mean, you’re getting worked about about this? What about actual take-your-freedom-away legislation like the Patriot Act, or suspension of Habeas Corpus? IIRC, you’ve been gung-ho behind the Bush administration, and supported far worse stuff than having to appeal a sign take down order to the Common Pleas Court.

Presumably, you would see a difference if a Spanish-speaking customer tried to place an order with an employee who understood Spanish. I suppose the owner could simply fire all his employees who understand Spanish, but that would probably just make things worse. Or perhaps none of his employees give the appearance of understanding Spanish, in which case it’s hard to see why the sign is even necessary.

If indeed there are no attempted transactions in Spanish (or any other non-English language) then the sign’s only purpose is to proclaim that the owner is an ass and/or curry support from nativists. It’s pretty fashionable to pick on Spanish-speakers these days, but I wonder what the response would be if the sign had read “DO NOT ORDER IN HEBREW!”

Everybody hates the Jews. :(

I agree the sign is assholeish but nowhere near illegal. Not even close.