Sunday, June 01, 2008

SOUND OFF: WHAT'S IN A NAME?

My readers had various opinions as to whether the owner of a Philadelphia restaurant that opened in 1949 should change its name -- Chink's Steaks -- since it might well offend a particular ethnic group. The results of an unscientific poll on my column's blog have 57 percent of readers voting that the name should not be changed and 43 percent voting that it should.

"The owner has every right to keep the name," writes Maggie Lawrence of Culpepper, Va., "and people who want to be offended have every right to not eat there."

"There will always be someone who is offended by something," writes Jerry Wright of San Juan Capistrano, Calif. "Since the name has been around for years, it should remain so."

"On probably more than half of the reviews I read of Chink's, customers said that they liked the cheesesteaks despite the name," writes Kim Liao of Somerville, Mass. "Why force customers to `get over' an obvious linguistic issue in order to recommend your product?"

"Anything that might possibly be construed as a racial or derogatory term, as such, should not be a source of financial gain or empowerment at the emotional expense of others," writes Patrick Burris of Charlotte, N.C.

Check out other opinions here, or post your own or post your own by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business and The Good, the Bad, and Your Business: Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull You Apart, is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@nytimes.com or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

c.2008 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)

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