Monday, June 26, 2006

Bill Keller and Glen Reynolds

Instapundit gave an almost sound critique of the ridiculous defense offered by Bill Keller. Keller defends the "get" at the New York Times which detailed a government program that tracks finances of possible terrorists. Bush has hammered the paper, with good reason. However, I'm going to focus on a the word "gave" used by both Glen Reynolds (Instapundit.com) and Bill Keller himself.

Keller says in his defense

The power [of the press] that has been given us is not something to be taken lightly.

Reynolds retorts

The founders gave freedom of the press to the people, they didn't give freedom to the press.

Now, I agree with what Reynolds is arguing. However, the problem is that the Founding Father's did not give Americans anything other than the law. The law, of course, is "the laws of nature and of nature's God" and the Constitution. They did not give, or grant freedoms to anyone. Alexander Hamilton argued as such in Federalist 84:

I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed?

The freedom to print is a natural right, not given by any government and only given up by consent of the governed. Those are the principles America were built on, and until we consciously deny such principles, they are what we must live up to.

Otherwise, big fan of Instapundit. Good stuff can be found there.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Youz Want Dat Whiz Wit?



Last week a story hit the local Philadelphia news and quickly went national. Owner Joe Vento of Geno's Steaks in South Philly put a sign up at the order window saying, "This is America. When ordering speak English."

Now if you're not from Philly you're probably asking yourself, "So what?" If some street food vendor wants to put a sign up making himself look like a bigot, what's the big deal? The big deal is that Geno's is a Philadelphia icon. Every tourist that comes to Philly has four things on their to do list.
  1. See Independence Hall
  2. See Liberty Bell
  3. Run up the steps of the Art Museum, raise you hands in the air like Rocky and yell, 'Yo Adrianne!'
  4. Get a real Philly cheesesteak from Geno's Steaks

On a side note it's ironic Geno's would be requiring customers to speak English considering nobody in South Philly speaks the language well. Ordering a cheesesteak at Geno's goes something like this:

"Can I get a cheesesteak please?"

"Whiz?"

"No"

"Youz want dat wit?"

"Yes."

To explain, you just ordered a cheesesteak with provolone (not cheez whiz) and fried onions (just 'wit' for short).

When the story ran on the local news, local talk radio picked it up and everyone quickly chose sides. Many people support Joe's decision to put up the sign and say it's about time someone said something. Not surprisingly, the Libs and illegal immigrant crowd came down against Geno. Many people who sympathize with the illegal immigrants are rational about the situation. The Day Without an Immigrant Coalition is simply saying they will take their business across the street to Pat's, Geno's rival. This is the correct attitude to have. If you don't like Joe's way of doing business, don't do business at Geno's. But other groups are going too far in their outrage.

Juntos, a local Hispanic neighborhood organization began setting up a protest by sending people to Geno's to order in Spanish. They may pursue court action if refused service. They equate this sign to the days of segregation when blacks couldn't sit at the counter and had to ride the back of the bus. This is taking things a bit too far.

But the thing that really bothers me is now the city is thinking of getting involved. City Councilman Jim Kenney has asked Geno's to take the sign down. He says Geno's is "an iconic institution and business, one that is that visible for many of our residents, for the region and the world." The problem is Geno's doesn't belong to the city. It belongs to Joe Vento.

I support Joe's right to hang the sign. It's his establishment. He's trying to make a point and our Constitution gives him the right to speak his mind. I also support anyone's right to call Joe a bigot and refuse to do business at Geno's. That includes the city if they choose to no longer promote Geno's as a Philadelphia tourist attraction as they have been doing for decades. That is their right and that's what free markets are all about. But if the city tries to do anything to put Joe out of business, like pulling permits or trying to inspect him out of business, I'll be extremely upset and disappointed.