I COMPLETELY agree with Joey Vento. My four grandparents came from Russia to New York's Lower East Side in the early 1900s and didn't speak a word of English.

They learned. And they learned quickly in order to survive. And, regarding Vento's sign - what's the big deal? If customers can't speak English, how can they read it?

Harry Jay Katz, Philadelphia

When the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations was created in 1952, discrimination was rampant throughout the U.S. I imagine, at that time, the commission performed legitimate work to ensure that individuals weren't persecuted based on race and other factors.

Today's commission has turned the tables and undertaken the persecution Geno's Steaks owner Joey Vento. It's cooked up charges of discrimination against him for the "crime" of asking - not demanding - that customers speak English, which is the language of the U.S., at least for today. To the cockeyed leadership of the commission, this is likened to segregation of the pre-civil rights era, in which "whites only" and "colored" signs were prevalent in public facilities.

Although Mr. Vento asserts with no contradiction that he's never declined to serve someone who does not order in English, that is not good enough for the commission. The mere suggestion that English is preferred is to tar and smear him. If this case is the type of work the commission performs, perhaps it should be disbanded.

Oren M. Spiegler, Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

I disagree with Mr. Vento's sign - I wouldn't have one in my own business, possibly influenced by my trips to Europe. I was always treated with the utmost kindness and patience and didn't meet one stranger there who didn't speak English.

Influenced also by Voltaire, who famously said, "I disagree with what you say, but would defend to the death your right to say it," as an attorney I would have no difficulty in defending Joey Vento in a court of law, pro bono.

The sign is well-meant, a practical matter to expedite service. Is that so hard to understand? Does it rise to the level that the man deserves to be persecuted? I rest my case.

Robert W. Foy, Philadelphia