20061202

Seriously bad governance


We may be seeing mass lunacy being acted out one state at a time.

Last November, the state of Connecticut slapped a ban on distribution of a series of seasonal English beers bearing such names as Santa's Butt, Bad Elf and Seriously Bad Elf. The idea, said state officials, was to protect curious children from being intrigued by the beer.

The distributor, Shelton Brothers, filed suit and Connecticut dropped the ban.

This November, New York State tried the same thing, based on the same quasi-logic. Shelton Brothers sued again. The state dropped the ban.

Now comes word that Maine is doing precisely the same thing, for the same reason, and a lawsuit has been filed once more.

Curiously, both Connecticut and New York dropped the ill-advised bans before the lawsuits made their way through the courts. In New York, the Sheltons are pursuing legal redress nonetheless.

In recent years, the company has had labels challenged in Ohio, North Carolina and Missouri as well.

“Last year it was elves. This year it's Santa. Maybe next year it'll be reindeer,” said Daniel Shelton, owner of the company in Belchertown, Mass.

The Maine lawsuit was brought by the Maine Civil Liberties Union, which says the beer labels are entitled to First Amendment protection.

“There is no good reason for the state to censor art, even art found on a beer label,” said Zachary Heiden, staff attorney for the MCLU.

The Santa's Butt Winter Porter shows a view from behind of Santa, with a pint of beer in hand, sitting on top of a 126-gallon barrel -- a container known as a "butt."

States have the power to regulate alcohol through the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition in 1933. “But I don't know where they get the idea they can ignore the rest of the Constitution,” Shelton said.

To Dowd's Spirits Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Wine Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Brews Notebook latest entry.
Back to Dowd On Drinks home page.

4 comments:

Jeff Alworth said...

Oy.

The idea, said state officials, was to protect curious children from being intrigued by the beer.

So what exactly are the kiddies doing prowling the beer cooler, anyway?

Billy Beer said...

States' rights is one thing, but serial stupidity in trying to keep banning this beer is another.

Karl Hildreth said...

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." (Benjamin Franklin)

Mike Lomenzo said...

This seems to be another case of the state trying to step in for bad parenting. If a ban takes place what next. It is as simple as responsibility. If you or someone you know has an alcohol problem than they should go to alcohol rehab But thats just my opinion.