Posted by Curt on 20 December, 2005 at 11:18 am. 3 comments already!


Ohio Bar owner Tom Ullum put up a sign a few months back that read “for service, speak english”. It appears that sign created quite a furor: (from Oct 9th)

A tavern owner near Cincinnati is vowing not to take down a window sign that declares, “For Service, Speak English.”

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission ruled this week that the sign at the Pleasure Inn in Mason (Ohio) violates state discrimination laws and creates an affront to Hispanics.

But tavern owner Tom Ullum says the sign is meant to be tongue in cheek. He says he has Mexican customers all the time and he doesn’t discriminate.

The civil rights commission says the tavern could be ordered to pay for advertisements about nondiscrimination, and its staff could be ordered to undergo diversity training or cultural sensitivity training.

Ullum has nine days to ask the commission to reconsider. If he does, the commission will hold a hearing October 27th in Cincinnati City Hall.

Well, he had that hearing and it didn’t go to well:

COLUMBUS ? A unanimous Ohio Civil Rights Commission found probable cause of discrimination today by a 63-year-old Mason tavern owner for posting a sign that says: ?For Service Speak English.??

The case was referred to an administrative law judge for an opinion on further legal action.

Pleasure Inn owner Tom Ullum told the five-member commission that he posts many signs that might offend people, including Michigan football fans, but that he has never discriminated against anyone.

For example, Ullum said he has served Russian customers who didn?t speak English but knew how to say Budweiser or Vodka. That sparked laughter in the audience of about 100.

The tiny yellow sign that touched off the controversy and complaint remained in the window of the Pleasure Inn today, where patrons praised Ullum as being ?a good man.??

Just when it looked like commissioners might be willing to negotiate a settlement, the Rev. Aaron Wheeler Sr., the commission chairman, asked Ullum and his Arlington, Va., attorney, K.C. McAlpin, if they would remove the sign.

They said no.

McAlpin said Ullum has served ?people of virtually every national origin ? Neither of Mr. Ullum?s two employees speak languages other than English ? This is really pretty preposterous.??

?It?s discrimination,?? Wheeler said. ?It will not be tolerated in the state of Ohio.??

So everyone who works in this bar speaks only english. Does it take a rocket scientist to figure out the only way your gonna get service is to speak english?

Instead they find that this sign is discriminatory without ONE single complaint of non-service. Even if there was a complaint does the anti-discrimination laws on the books say a business owner can’t discriminate against a LANGUAGE? Nope. It say’s “based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age or ancestry.” Don’t see language there.

Does the sign say “english only patrons allowed”? No. The sign is basically a instructional sign saying if you want service you need to speak english. Not too hard to figure out people.

Charlie Winburn, a commission member from Cincinnati, appeared willing to give Ullum the benefit of the doubt. He asked the complainant why she didn?t send so-called ?testers?? in to see if the tavern refused to serve any customers.

?Is there a violation of the law??? he said. ?Where is your proof or evidence???

Elizabeth Brown, executive director of Cincinnati-based HOME ? Housing Opportunities Made Equal ? said the sign speaks for itself. Some HOME representatives stopped by once at noon but were told the inn didn?t serve lunch, she said. She didn?t think it was necessary to gather additional evidence.

?I really think you all failed in this case,?? Winburn said. ?I think you missed an opportunity. HOME missed an opportunity ? We have no past practice of discrimination. We have no evidence of it.??

Winburn said that after the case got national attention, no one came forward to complain about service by Ullum or the Pleasure Inn, noting that Butler County is populated by about 1,400 Hispanics and 4,200 African Americans.

Yet Winburn joined the other four commissioners in ruling against Ullum after he remained adamant that he has a right to favor English over other languages.

WTF! Even one of the commissioners tell’s the complainants that they screwed the pooch but decides to agree with them anyway. No politics there.

Gotta hand it to the bar owner tho, he makes some good signs

In recent weeks, a second sign reading, ?Merry Christmas ACLU? has been displayed in a front window of the Pleasure Inn on U.S. 42, in response to Christian groups? recent clamor over ?Happy Holidays? greetings supplanting ?Merry Christmas.?

I Love it.

And now some of Ohio’s other business owners are standing in solidarity with Tom Ullum:

The hand-lettered sign says “For Service Speak English,” but bar owner Don Buechner said those words aren’t intended for his patrons.

Buechner, co-owner of Snookers on Princeton Pike, said he is sending a message to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, which this week ruled that a Mason bar with a similar sign in its window is practicing discrimination.

“They have overstepped their bounds,” Buechner said Friday, hours after putting up the sign in solidarity with Pleasure Inn owner Tom Ullum. “I just don’t know what’s happened to this country when you don’t have the right to express yourself.”

Ullum faces fines for refusing to take down his sign.

A judge will now get the case.

None of that matters to Buechner.

In fact, on Friday he called the commission in Columbus and informed them about the sign in his window.

The way Buechner sees it, “It’s really not much of a protest if nobody knows about it.”

Ullum was tickled to hear about Snookers’ sign. “I’ll be darned. How about that,” he said.

Two men playing pool Friday at Snookers disagreed on the appropriateness of the sign.

“I think it’s kind of rude,” said Jeremy Jones, of Fairfield Township, adding that it would not keep him from coming back.

His friend, Mike Rhein, of Milford, said, “I think it’s great. If people are going to come to this country, they ought to learn our language and our customs.”

Buechner said his customers are racially and culturally diverse, and he doesn’t think the sign will shoo any away.

His intention, he said, was to show solidarity with Ullum, and get a following of other bar and business owners willing to do the same.

“It seems like some of these agencies think they can steamroll whatever they want. I was offended by that and if 50 or 60 business would do the same thing, the Ohio Civil Right Commission would realize they have overstepped their bounds.”

It’s funny, I don’t see the ACLU taking up Tom’s cause. Isn’t this a free speech issue?

The left only cries about free speech when the speech agree’s with their view of the world.

A big hat tip to Bizzyblog for it’s excellent coverage on this issue here, here and here.

Instead they find that this sign is discriminatory without ONE single complaint of non-service. Even if there was a complaint does the anti-discrimination laws on the books say a business owner can’t discriminate against a LANGUAGE? Nope. It say’s “based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age or ancestry.” Don’t see language there.

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