Carol Platt Liebau: Nothing Better to Do?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Nothing Better to Do?

So Philadelphia's "Commission on Human Relations" -- a city agency with, obviously, too much time on its hands -- has declared the English-only policy of Geno's Steaks to be discriminatory, because it might discourage customers of certain backgrounds from eating there.

How silly. That's like saying that a no-shoes, no-shirt policy (or one requiring men to wear a coat and tie) is discriminatory -- because it, too, will discourage customers with certain preferences or from certain backgrounds from partaking in a Geno's cheesesteak.

Geno's isn't saying that anyone who comes from another country, or whose primary language is something other than English, isn't welcome in his shop. That's discrimination -- same as it would be if he classified based on race, gender or religion. All he's saying is that, when people are in his shop, where he sets the behavioral standards, they must speak English -- just as, presumably, they must wear shoes.

One could, in fact, argue that he's doing immigrants a favor. Speaking English is the only way to get ahead and succeed in American society. If anyone is willing to learn to do it in order to have a Geno's sandwich, more power to him.


Blogger wrabkin said...

Of course, there are lots of people visiting major tourist attractions who aren't immigrants, legal or otherwise. Some of them, for instance, are tourists.

Now maybe Carol is so darn proud to be an American that she feels it's a good idea to require anyone who visits the country to become fluent in English first. But maybe she should travel outside our borders a little more and discover there's a whole, big world out there, and it's not all scary mean dark people who want to blow us up or -- even worse -- mow our lawns.

Oh, and there are health reasons people are required to wear shoes and shirts in restaurants. I can't think of a lot of health reasons for demanding people speak English, except among those nativists who get nauseous when they are required to hear something that doesn't sound like their own voice.

12:58 PM  
Blogger wile e coyote said...

The health distinction is well taken. Query what impact extending this reasoning would have on jacket-and-tie policies of upscale restaurants.

According to the article, the sign says, "This is AMERICA: WHEN ORDERING 'PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH.'"

I am not sure what impact the sign will have on those who don't speak English since they can't read it.

I also doubt the restaurant gets many customers who try ordering in foreign languages.

(Anyone who has been to a cafe in French knows the waiters there enforce a similar policy de facto.)

The ordinance prohibits discrimination on the basis of "race, ethnicity or sexual orientation", so applying it to the present case seems a stretch.

Basically, the PC police are out to get someone for making those with poor English feel badly about themselves. Geno's seems to have made a poor business decision, but is administrative action required?. Our usual way of handling these matters is a Jesse-Jackson-organized rally and boycott, followed by a promise of sensitivity training and a sweetheart deal for one of Jackson's friends with the miscreant.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Duke-Stir said...

Next stop, Birkenau!

4:41 PM  
Blogger JillMartin said...

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6:08 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

The point isn't whether it's a publicity stunt or not. The point is that the government has no right interfering with this business' policy. If consumers hate that policy enough, they will not patronize his store. Sometimes it's best to let the market decide.

6:01 PM  
Blogger JillMartin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:19 PM  

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