Monday, June 12, 2006

I'll take a Philly Cheese Steak, hold the English.

I'm probably supposed to be appalled by this, but something just rings really strong with me in regards to the immigration issue.
Geno's Steaks (Cheese steaks) in Philadelphia has a sign posted that states, "This is America - when ordering, speak English." You can probably see where this is going. Well, the city has a no discrimination policy regarding nationality or ethnicity, and Philly is demanding that Geno's takes down the sign, which they are refusing to do. Reuters has more details.

The owner if the restaurant says that it is a 1st Amendment issue. I'm the biggest proponent of the 1st Amendment, but I don't see it as a problem with Freedom of Speech. What I see it as is a test of how government actually handles the concept of discrimination. More over, it is a test to decide how much the control the government is going to have on the use of the English language in business. Is the sign discriminatory? Of course it is. It demands that you speak only one language when ordering. But is it wrong? Well, if the employees all know only English, does it do any good to say that it is acceptable to order in Spanish? Absolutely not. So what do we do?
Well, the first thing is that the country passes English as a the national language. I know, I know....it is so anti-cultural, so not diverse, blah, blah, blah...... Well, let's see.......
-Official language of over 2 dozen other countries.
-Official language of the United Nations
-Official language of the European Union
-Official language of the Olympic Committee
-Official language of business
-Official language of California
-Official language of international travel
-The most widely used language in the world (not population, variety)
-Hell, the official language of Hong Kong!

So let's end the argument over that and just get it passed. If Mexico protests, tell them to shut up and go figure out how to run a country before criticizing ours.

Then, if there is no discrimination based on nationality or ethnicity, you let Geno's post the sign because the business is ran by people that speak English. Although this sign might be on the border of perfect common sense, it stands on the good side of the argument. Politically correct? No. Tasteful? Probably not. But can you actually demand that other languages be spoke in a business and call that 'anti-discrimination'? Let's hope not, because the precedent that this sets could be ugly.
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