Interview With Joey Vento – Joe Bednarsky

Joe Bednarsky writes the following about himself on his site

Welcome To Heritage of Holiness

The concept of Heritage of Holiness was put into action by Joseph V. Bednarsky Jr. in the summer of 2005 and was closed sometime in the spring of 2006 due to Joe backsliding and returning to his worldly ways in sin. With God’s help Joe decided not only to resign from the Ku Klux Klan in March of 2007, but to also disband the group that he first started back in the early 1990’s. Amen!

It was not until the end of July 2007 that Joe found his way back to God (Praise the Lord) and decided to rebuild Heritage of Holiness, a place where all Christians regardless of race can come to have fellowship with one another. Heritage of Holiness is dedicated to connecting Christians throught the Internet with fellowship and Biblical teachings. (continue reading on his site.)

Joe posted the following to many of my posts on Joey Vento. He has a radio show and will be interviewing Joey Vento on March 12, 2008:

Bednarsky Talk Radio 03-12-08 – Guest Joey Vento, owner of Geno Steaks

On March 12, 2008 at 9am EST Live (That’s right our first morning show), Joey Vento owner of Geno’s Steaks will be our guest and we will be discussing how the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations is trying to make him remove the sign that he has up saying “This Is America, Please Speak English When Ordering”. Now the last time I looked around this was still America, what is America coming to when the government thinks they can control our freedom of speech? We will be asking this and many more questions, so don’t miss the show.

I wrote the following email to Joe about about Joey Vento and hope he’ll ask Joey how he thinks a non-English speaker can read his sign. I’d also like him to ask Joey why he targets Hispanics as he did in his Harrisburg, PA Rally speech. There he stated –

“So the Spanish people I say to you, you want to be prosperous – ’cause I called you morons and I’m going to tell you why (audience laughing). As long as you’ve got Spanish in the school you’ll never ever succeed in the United States of America.”

Here’s my email to Joe:


Thanks for stopping by the site. It’s encouraging to see you’ve changed your life for the better and I applaud that very much. This world needs more good and tolerant people because we both know there’s a lot to be angry about.

Regarding Joey Vento’s sign – the issue for me is the reasoning behind his putting the sign up. However, I don’t believe he should have to take it down. What I’d personally like to see is the public showing their dissatisfaction by refusing to eat at his establishment. Sadly though the effect is the exact opposite.

One fundamental question I hope you’ll ask Joey is how can a non-English speaker read his sign? Since they can’t I’d like to know the real reason he put the sign up.

How has Joey’s sign helped promote English speaking? If you ask me it hasn’t. For Joey it’s meant more business and more attention. For those that don’t speak English, or are trying to learn the sign leads to further condemnation. As a reformed person how do you think his sign promotes tolerance for others? Many times you have to look at intent in context with what’s going on around us. I could wear a swastika around and say it means ‘good luck’, but I’d better be prepared for the reaction I’m going to get from many people. However, I obviously have the right to wear it just as others have the right to be offended. Today people are afraid of Hispanic migrants and his sign speaks directly to that very issue.

Just in case you don’t know that Joey is speaking directly to Hispanics with his sign here’s a quote from his speech at the Voice of the People USA Harrisburg rally:

“So the Spanish people I say to you, you want to be prosperous – ’cause I called you morons and I’m going to tell you why (audience laughing). As long as you’ve got Spanish in the school you’ll never ever succeed in the United States of America.”

Free speech is an interesting subject and at some point we have to decide how free it really is and how far it can go. If Joey spelled out his sexual fantasies on a little sign and pasted it on his door what effect would that have? He’d probably lose customers and be asked by the city to take it down. Who would then defend his right to free speech? Would you still be defending this right if his sign described his fantasies in great detail? What if he included a photo? Regardless of the response we can always go back to ‘free speech’. I don’t believe free speech cares for common decency or morality and neither does Joey Vento, but hey this is the U.S.A.

Subsequent email sent to Joe after the interiew:

I haven’t had a chance to hear the whole interview yet, but I wanted to say that I enjoyed what I heard so far. I appreciate your presenting both sides of this issue in your interview.

First I wanted to clarify the end of my first email referencing freedom of speech. I didn’t mean to imply that we should remove some forms of speech or limit freedom of speech. I was trying to demonstrate that not all people would defend ‘all’ speech. Certainly, as Americans, we all have the right to say what we want to; however, this is generally not the case when it harms someone else. Obviously Joey couldn’t defame the owner of his competition with false accusations no more than he could threaten to harm them physically via a small sign at his restaurant. At that point freedom of speech becomes an act that can result in a lawsuit.

I realize it’s just a sign and it’s not directly offensive in that it doesn’t spell out hatred or abuse against anyone. However, there is much implied in the language it uses especially when paired with things Joey has said. Be that as it may Joey is right to say that anyone who doesn’t agree can just go eat at another restaurant. I just wish he understood the racism his family faced when they arrived and would not try to promote this same hatred towards others.

I don’t agree that if Joey were hateful he wouldn’t be as successful as he is because there are many hateful people that are filthy rich. I’ve never been to Geno’s, but I thought they were known for being gruff with their customers. If this is true then being hateful, on some level, is exactly how he became successful; however it may be just a gimmick that everyone’s ok with.

In regard to his attacking Spanish speaking people as receiving special treatment please read below detailing how New York’s Polish community also has ESL:

“I found that the same amount and types of services provided to any other ethnic minority group were also provided to this Polish community. For example, the state provides translators in the court system during a trial in which there is a person who speaks only Polish. There are ESL programs in the New York City Public Schools that provide education for Polish-only students.” link.

On the same website you can read that Chinese students have an ESL program as well:
Students are given an exam upon entry and based on the test results the students are placed accordingly into either the bilingual or ESL program. If the students receive a score above 40% then they are exempted from having to participate in the bilingual program.

Unfortunately there is a false perception that Hispanics don’t want to learn English and as Joey believes some (undocumented mostly) never will. This is simply not true as most, if not all, migrant children can speak English (regardless of the citizenship status). Obviously the educational system in many countries below the border is sub par when compared to ours. Just as Joey mentions just the opposite is true for many Asian and European countries. What’s more peculiar about his statement is that many claim undocumented Hispanics don’t want to learn English while at they same time they’re trying to pass laws to keep these children out of our schools.

What’s happening here is the vilification of Hispanics. Many are using the illegal immigration discussion as an excuse to point fingers and hate. Although Joey’s sign is perfectly legal it is certainly offensive and an inability to read English does not detract from its message. You could say far worse things which would not be understood by non-English speaking people and we’d certainly agree that they were offensive.

Sadly Joey doesn’t seem like a bad person. He seems to be another person caught up in the anti-Hispanic rhetoric which puts out false information, such as the ESL claims. He also happens to own a very successful business and when he speaks people read and listen. Obviously if I hung a small sign on my front window that said “This is America When Soliciting Please Speak English” few would probably care.

I won’t attempt to imply anything about your past, but I’d assume you know how people are motivated towards hatred. Generally it starts with words and implied ‘problems’ caused by another group. I’d also figure that you don’t think provoking anti-migrant sentiment, much of which is hateful, is very Christian. If you take time to read what’s out there on this debate and read some of the websites and their message boards you’ll find that there are many hateful, prejudiced and racist people there. That’s what I’m trying to fight against. If you’re upset about undocumented migrants I understand, but I’ll never understand the hateful language being used nor the finger pointing at Hispanics for causing the various ills of our society.

I’ll close by saying that you are an inspiration to people such as myself that are trying to promote good. It’s hard sometimes to not be nasty towards those you don’t agree with, but I know that it will do no good. I know that compassion towards everyone, even those that are mean and that I don’t agree with, is the only way people can change. Thank you for what you’re doing and I wish you much success in spreading the word.


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