At Geno’s Steakhouse in Philadelphia, a sign with a big American eagle says:
This Is AMERICA
Please WHEN ORDERING
The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations calls the sign intimidating and discriminatory, and wants to force the owner, Joey Vento, to take it down. Vento’s lawyer says the sign expresses concern for the plight of immigrants and that Vento is trying to help them by encouraging them to learn English.
Okay, two easy questions and one harder one:
1. Is Vento’s sign obnoxious, nationalistic, and bigoted? Yes, of course. (I mean, just look at it. Concern for immigrants, my ass.)
2. Is Vento nevertheless within his rights to post the sign? Yes, of course.
Those were the easy questions. Now the hard one:
3. Why is “SPEAK ENGLISH” in quotation marks?
Perhaps Vento’s grasp of correct English usage isn’t as strong as he supposes – which suggests he may not be ideally positioned to be lecturing others on correct linguistic behaviour.