JOSEPH L. Shepard's Dec. 19 letter supporting Joey Vento over the Philadelphia Human Rights Commission regarding the sign on his store window instructing patrons to speak English included an admonishment of the PHRC for "trying to legitimize their failure to enforce the laws regarding illegal aliens by making citizens the criminals."

But however you feel about the sign, this has nothing to do with illegal immigration. While the Daily News pointed out in its Dec. 18 editorial that Vento had a First Amendment right to post the sign, it also should be said that speaking languages other than English is also protected speech.

Just like Vento's family who came from Italy, new immigrants here do not have to be told that they should learn English. They do their best to learn, and if they don't, as long as they put their time in and are able to contribute something positive, there is no issue.

There have been many Italian immigrants to Philadelphia who have done good without ever learning English, but that's beside the point.

Just like them, the biggest problem for today's immigrants is the blind bigotry and hatred that comes from the likes of Vento and from those who would find another reason to hate them if English was their first language.

Daryle Lamont Jenkins, Philadelphia

1. The sign does not require English, like one saying "English only."

2. The sign is worded as a request, not an order.

3. The witnesses for the prosecution would not survive living in my hard-coal region of the state as they are out of touch with the real world.

Daniel Huddleson

Williamstown, Pa.

Beauty call

I would like to ask the governor:

"Do you think if Alycia were 60 years old and had gray hair that you would have taken her call on your cell phone?"

A. J. Borrelli, Springfield

Absentee? Disagree

Re Elmer Smith referring to Evan Dorsey as an "absentee father":

I am also in his position, having two teenage daughters of my own. I have been in their lives since day one and even though I am no longer involved with their mother, not once could I be considered an "absentee father." My child support has always been current.

Mr. Smith mentioned that Ebony's father talked to her "religiously" everyday before she went to school. That doesn't sound like an "absentee" father to me. That sounds like he is responsible and caring.

To Ebony's father: Stay strong, my brother. I am sorry for your loss. Words cannot express what you are feeling right now.

Joseph F. Rolins Jr., Willingboro, N.J.