More Evidence That Most Americans Don’t Grasp The “Freedom of Speech” Concept….

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…”

22 thoughts on “More Evidence That Most Americans Don’t Grasp The “Freedom of Speech” Concept….

    • This didn’t go to the judicial branch. It was determined by low level local beauracrats with less spine than common sense. The moment this goes to trial, the beer company is going to win.

  1. I thought that was an amusing illustration on the label. How can you rant about something if you erase mention and existence? That worked so well during Prohibition, eh?

  2. It’s pathetic to imagine that well paid bureaucrats likely had at least one meeting about this, before coming to an idiotic, indefensible and unconstitutional decision. During that meeting do you suppose that they thought they were performing any useful function, or did they realize that they are a bunch of parasitic weasels, sucking their inflated salaries from the public teat? I guess ‘Opium’ perfume is next…

  3. I love this.

    The name “Polygamy Porter” was a direct thumbing-of-nose to the Church of Latter Day Saints, which still controls much of Utah’s legislature and doesn’t exactly encourage the consumption of alcohol (Utah has the strictest DUI laws in the nation, with a .05 enough to get you arrested for DUI).

    Wasatch Brewery makes pretty good stuff. I hope they DO sue – in a splashy and noisy way. This story is guaranteed news coverage, and could easily catapult them into a national brand (while making North Carolina look incredibly stupid in the process).

    What’s not to like?

    • Arthur: That’s what I think. What a great joke! Someone should make a list of all the names mico-breweries are using and then “decide” if they’re offensive. If I drank beer, I’d look high and low for Polygamy Porter…

  4. I’m just waiting for polygamy laws to be tossed. I don’t see how Obergefell v. Hodges can apply to homosexuals yet is inapplicable to marriage between three or more.

    Brown v. Buhman already headed down that road when the case was dismissed on standing because there was no active charge against Brown. Utah has been essentially put on notice that they can have a polygamy law, they just can’t use it against those that don’t break any other laws.

    • I don’t buy the polygamy=same sex marriage analogy. Polygamy is an abusive, sexist practice that exchanges male sexual fantasy in excahnge for child abuse. There was never any actual harm that came from gay marriages or gay relationships at all. The harm that comes from polygamy is demonstrable, and it is too close to sex trafficking for comfort. There’s an obvious full stop on that alleged slippery slope.

      • Well that’s silly. Maybe how it’s been practiced by barbaric peoples and religions sure but modern Americans, especially modern American women can make that choice for themselves – American women are not the chattel of yesteryear. I know at least one MFF polyamrous closed thurple in a long term relationship and in both cases the women couldn’t be more stoked. They’re bi and value women at least as much as men and consider themselves lucky that they get to have their pie and eat it too. Not to mention the practical benefits of three incomes in a household and three pairs of hands for child rearing. Under those conditions, if it’s all consenting adults, I don’t see how it could possibly be unethical. Lest you (and by you I mean other people reading this) reflexively push back against two women and one man – it’s not uncommon for it to be reversed with MMF.

      • You’re taking the worst examples of the group and applying it to all of them. We address the abuses as the abuses, not tar the entire group and ban the activity. I also note you jump to the example of 1 man multiple women, but that’s certainly not all of the cases. It is just as often multiple men. Certainly not for me, but then neither is gay marriage.

        This is just yet another example of society minding what goes on in the bedroom. I’ll argue that the examples like the Browns’ of “Sister Wives” fame is far less damaging than all of the out of wedlock children born today. We’re not banning the ability of men and women to procreate with a different person each time they reproduce, and that’s far more damaging to children. Those participating in polyamory are far outnumbered by the 50%>/b> of children born in the US who are born to the unmarried.

  5. Devil’s Advocate here.

    Disclaimer: I don’t know the background on this specific issue.

    But, Minnesota fined a bar for serving a keg of beer made in Wisconsin. Not every beer, mind you; certainly not the Champagne of Beer.

    It was New Glarus brewing, I think. The problem? The 21st Amendment gave states the right to regulate alcohol sales. Having lived in New Mexico, where you can buy anything in a grocery store, South Carolina, where all liquor stores are run by the State, and Minnesota, which only recently allowed alcohol sales on Sunday. Minnesota requires all sellers to purchase through distributors monitored by the State (probably for tax purposes, I would bet).

    New Glarus was not distributed in Minnesota. So, a bar owner bought a keg and served it at his bar. Big No-No!

    To respond to this article: it is not simply a First Amendment issue (though I agree with Jack on the importance of vigilance there); it could just as easily be a Commerce Clause issue, a 21st Amendment issue, and an incorporation doctrine issue (I.e. even if the First Amendment was incorporated to the States, does that trump the State’s authority to regulate alcohol—on that point specifically, the general is trumped by the specific, so , arguably, the State of North Carolina could ban this beer).

    I am sure that was the analysis the tinpot dictators in North Carolina struggled with.


    P.S. sadly, if Polygamy Porter is not available in Minnesota, the reason will be far less interesting.

    • I’ll bet my house it was Spotted Cow by New Glarus. Drank a couple yesterday doing yard work. This is a marketing decision by New Glarus. They only sell within the state of Wisconsin. It lends a certain exclusivity. It’s also damn good beer.

      • La Sylphide,
        Now that you mention it, that sounds right. I occasionally see posts on Facebook of my Minnesota friends smuggling some Spotted Cow or other New Glarus beverage into the state. Maybe I should practice law in Wisconsin more often (it would be a good front for smuggling beer and fireworks across the border).

      • You want a Great WESconsin Beer (forgive the redundancy) that’s only available in a limited area, give The Driftless Brewing Company’s (Gays Mills) The Local Buzz a try.

        We can’t even get it 85.5 miles/137.6 kms east of there in Madison, so my Crawford County-dwelling brother serves as my…um…mule.

        Nothing looks (or tastes) better (IMO) in a tall (it comes in 22 oz/650.62 ml bomber/double deuce bottles), clear frosted mug held to the afternoon sun than that Blonde Ale.

        La Sylphide, if you’re still able to do yardwork after even one of ’em (5.0 % ABV), you’ll never have to prove your mettle again; not to me leastways!

        • What’s the WES-thingy? And I will keep an eye out for that beer. We have some pretty decent breweries this way; The Brewing Projekt being among my favorite. If you ever want a slice of rural Wisconsin life, head on over to Dave’s Brew Barn in the Knapp hills on a bitter winter morning where you’ll find people in his basement eating hot dish, playing scrabble and drinking great brew!

          • The WES-thingy is the way folks (Other Bill, et al) from the SAYouth pronounce the name of America’s Dairyland.

            Knapp is textbook western WI prairie, been to-n-through it many a time and had clients on the NW corner of the I-94/County Q exit.

            Fun Fact: The village of Knapp took its name from a principal of the Knapp, Stout, & Co., which was the largest lumber operation in the world in the late 20th century.

  6. The current ABCC in North Carolina was put in place by the current governor, Roy Cooper, a Democrat.

    So what we have here is Democratic appointees, presumably all Democrats themselves, ignoring and flagrantly violating the First Amendment.

    That sounds pretty much like the rest of the Democrat party, doesn’t it?

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