The tempest in a teapot that continues to brew over the Schenectady-based Wandering Dago food truck poses a true social conundrum.
Obviously, in a country where people are free to express themselves however they may choose, there’s nothing illegal about such a name — even when it’s used innocently, as appears to the case here by two people of Italian descent.
But as today’s letter to the editor makes clear, just because Andrea Loguidice and Brandon Snooks aren’t offended by the name, and meant no offense invoking it for their business, it is still considered a derogatory one, and thus hurtful, by many Italians. Even non-Italians who are uncomfortable with ethnic slurs of any stripe have found it offensive.
For that reason, the Saratoga Race Course — a state-owned facility — had a right to banish them last week after “one or two handfuls” of patrons complained on opening day. (The Cuomo administration similarly denied them a permit to operate at the Empire State Plaza in Albany earlier this year.)
Perhaps the truck’s owners never should have been given a permit in the first place, but that’s tangential, really, to any argument that they belong. So are opinion polls taken by the food truck proprietors, as well as The Gazette, indicating that a majority of the public supports the name.
People who don’t find “Wandering Dago” to be in bad taste ought to consider how they’d feel if the name invoked their own ethnicity, race or religion with a derogatory term. They probably wouldn’t like it and would wish the proprietors — regardless of which ethnicity they’re a member of — could find another name; one that wouldn’t be offensive to anyone.
That’s what the people behind the Wandering Dago should do. Not only would it likely be better for business, it would help elevate social standards.