Is Joey Vento obnoxious? Yes. ("Broken English," Dec. 18). Does he have a right to be obnoxious? Yes. Is it natural to want to avoid obnoxious proprietors? Yes. And that's why, when I'm asked for directions to Geno's Steaks by out-of-town sports fans lost in South Philly, I redirect them to Tony Luke's or Pat's.
If the Human Relations Commission wants to make this a friendlier city, it should get the Parking Authority to ease off visitors. I also redirect people to the Cherry Hill or Deptford malls for shopping.
The lynching of Joey Vento by the so-called Human Relations Commission should have all Americans up in arms (Inquirer, Dec. 18). There's something wrong with this nation when we start prosecuting people for being offensive. If people are offended, they will spend their money at Vento's competitors and eventually he'll go out of business, but he shouldn't be fined or thrown in jail. What happened to Vento's constitutional right to freedom of speech?
Fort Worth, Texas
I like Geno's Steaks, and I like Joey Vento continuing to honor the memory of slain Police Officer Danny Faulkner at his restaurant. Still, basically, Vento is an idiot. But because the U.S. Constitution protects his right to be an idiot, Vento can hang offensive, if stupid, signs in his windows (Inquirer, Dec. 18). He is not committing a hate crime. He is not singling out any person or group for his rudeness. He is just stating the obvious, order in English. There is no word for
in any language other than in English so his sign is meaningless and the publicity City Council and the press offer him for free is smartly contrived and well used by Vento.
If someone showed up at Geno's speaking Italian, the language of Joey Vento's ancestors, would he just as readily tell that person that he or she wasn't welcome in his place of business?
If a sign asking patrons to please order in English is seen as hostile to customers, what does that make the commonly used sign "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service"?
I was in the restaurant business for three decades and I know that the most important thing to a restaurant owner is understanding the customer's request. Are we supposed to expect Geno's to hire translators? Should Geno's have pictures of every possible item on the menu so non-English-speaking patrons can point to the picture of what they want?
This is not about discrimination; it's about communication. And by the way, I don't see Pat's printing menus in 35 languages.
C. Theodore Lang
What does Alycia Lane's annual salary of $700,000 say about our nation ("In local TV, sadly, looks are everything," Dec. 19)? Lane makes an enormous salary for sitting in front of a camera and reading the news.
The most wonderful teachers in this community often start out making less than $40,000 a year and may approach $100,000 only after teaching for 20 years or so. And what about police officers who risk their lives to keep us safe? The social workers who protect abused and neglected children? The men and women on trash trucks who keep our neighborhoods clean?