A Utah brewery has lost its appeal of a North Carolina decision to bar the sale of “Polygamy Porter” in the state, on the basis that “polygamy is illegal.”
Officials banned the beer and Wasatch Brewery challenged the policy with the North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, which ruled against it. This is pure speech censorship. Polygamy is illegal, but talking about it, depicting it and drawing pictures of it is not, and cannot be.
Jonathan Turley, who found this ridiculous story, notes that there are other beers with references to illegal acts, like My Favorite Murder beer. However local boards practicing censorship have banned other cheekily named beverages, like “Beergasm,” “Kissing Cousins,” “Daddy Needs His Juice,” and “Wine for the Super Hero.”
I don’t care about beer names, but I do care, as should all of us, about threats to bedrock American rights and values. It is because so many members of the public have been badly educated regarding our Bill of Rights that a board could make such a boneheaded ruling without the members’ First Amendment Alarms going off at an earsplitting level. It is such weak comprehension of what “freedom of speech” means that creates a genuine threat to our democracy, by allowing unscrupulous politicians, unethical scholars and pandering leaders to erode free speech, or attempt to, by assertions that “hate speech” should be made illegal and “dangerous opinions” like skepticism regarding climate change should trigger legal penalties.
“First they came for Polygamy Porter, and I did nothing…”