Wow, if that’s not a weird headline, then I don’t know what is… Anyway, the point is, Shelton Brothers—who is having the Bad Elf problems in New York I blogged about the other day—is now having problems in Maine! With Santa’s Butt Porter.
On Thursday, the Maine Civil Liberties Union Foundation filed a lawsuit claiming government censorship after the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement refused to allow Massachusetts-based Shelton Bros. to sell Santa’s Butt and two other beers with label illustrations that the agency deemed "undignified or improper." The MCLU claims the denial is a First Amendment violation restricting freedom of expression.
Again with the First Amendment defense… I don’t know, maybe I’m cynical, but it sure seems like this happens to Shelton a lot… and I don’t see many (any?) stories about other distributors or brewers having problems. Interestingly:
In his 10 years of importing beer, Shelton has faced similar label challenges from a handful of states, including Missouri, New York, Ohio, North Carolina and Connecticut. In most cases, the states either decided not to follow through or fought the case and lost, Shelton said.
Does Shelton just rub people the wrong way? I mean, these Ridgeway labels that seem to be the source of the controversy are pretty tame, in my opinion—I’ve certainly seen ones that should raise more eyebrows. So this is seeming forced to me…
I guess the take-away here is that there’s no such thing as bad publicity—and nothing better than a First Amendment case to promote that.