I'm Very Sorry But We Have to Enforce a Pointless Law We Don't Like Because Someone Reminded Us it Was There


AUGUST, though, is Bum Out People Who Sell Homemade Liquid Month

I love me some Oregon, but my parents' native state, once known enough for rugged outdoorsy individualism that it was the setting for one of the great anti-union novels of the '60s New Left, is these days going on a nanny-nob tear. The latest pointless outrage:

When the 2010 Oregon State Fair opens on Aug. 27, there won't be an amateur beer-brewers competition for the first time in 22 years.

An overlooked, 80-year-old statute that says Oregon home-brewed beer can't leave the home has forced fair organizers to cancel the competition, which had 335 entrants last year, says Oregon Liquor Control Commission spokeswoman Christie Scott.

Brewers were reminded of the statute after the Oregon Department of Justice clarified the law for a pub seeking to serve home brew at an event, Scott says. "As long as this is the law, we have to enforce it," she says, adding that the commission hopes to see the statute changed in time for the 2011 fair. […]

White dudes. Goatees. Craft brew. Oregon!

Chris Hummert, competition chairman of the Oregon Brew Crew, a Portland-based group dedicated to home-brewing education, says the newly unearthed statute in his state could stifle growth of brewing entrepreneurship. "Competitions provide an outlet where home brewers can perfect their craft and refine their beers and recipes and eventually become professional brewers."

Related story from our July issue: "It's the Water: Regulations threaten Portland's craft beers." Also check out "The Longneck Tail" from October 2006, and Greg Beato's seminal "Draft Dodgers" piece in March 2009.

Meanwhile, in reaction to our beer deregulation discussion the other day, a Mr. Alexander D. Mitchell IV really wants you to know in no uncertain terms that you should not confuse "the legalization of homebrewing with the 'deregulation' of the 'beer industry.'"

NEXT: Are We Becoming More Honest About Our Weight?

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  1. adding that the commission hopes to see the statute changed in time for the 2011 fair

    Something that actually requires a late-sunday-night legislating session and congress is nowhere to be found. Typical. Oh well, i guess Oregon State Fair 2010 can go fuck itself. At home, with its homebrew.

  2. Children will be attending this fair.

    1. “Children will be attending this fair.”

      …and because of this stupid law, they won’t be able to get any homebrew there. Won’t someone think of the children?

    2. Children go to the grocery store too. We should make sure they never see alcohol there either!

      1. We’re way ahead of you there.

  3. Personally, I’m in favor of making governments enforce every law, particularly the bad ones. Allowing laws to be enforced or not by whim, no matter how popular, is not a hallmark of stable republics. We have methods for changing every law — including the basis for law in State and Federal Constitutions. Executive or administrative fiat is a poor substitute for the Rule of Law.

    That said, insert obligatory libertarian rant about regulatory capture and corporatism here.

    1. Laws are just ink on paper. If ‘enforcing’ one of them means initiating force on one or more individuals, it cannot be justified.

      It doesn’t matter what the method of selecting these laws are.

    2. Laws are enforced capriciously. Even a law forcing the capricious application of law would be applied capriciously. I think another added layer of capriciousness would definitely get the job done, however.

      1. Well yes, that’s my point. Laws are enforced at whim and they shouldn’t be. But not through adding another layer of law. What’s the point of that? My objections are of a sociological rather than legal nature.

  4. “As long as this is the law, we have to enforce it,” she says

    Because selective enforcement is anathema to bureaucrats (and the gun-toting baboons who roam the countryside). It could never happen.

  5. I’ve found more parchment. It seems the prohibition law which was passed 200 years ago, was repealed 199 years ago!

    1. All this violence, looting, destruction of property. Is this really what we think of when we think of the Irish?

      1. [vague comment about death by catapult here]

  6. “As long as this is the law, we have to enforce it,” she says.

    Is it an urban legend that it is against the law for women to drink coffee after 6pm in Corvallis?

  7. An overlooked, 80-year-old statute that says Oregon home-brewed beer can’t leave the home

    Now we needs to get this legalized marijuana thing back under control…

  8. Oh c’mon. Big deal. The law is 80 years old. It’s current enforcement tells you absolutely nothing about Oregonian trends in nanny statism. The law will be repealed before next year’s fair. Guaranteed.

    I don’t agree with selective enforcement, especially from the AG’s office. Apply all laws equally. If that pisses people off, then vote in some legislatures who’ll take care of it.

  9. What kills me is that no one knew the law existed. No one enforced the stupid thing.

    …and everything was ok.

    But! The law MUST be enforced.

    So stupid.

  10. If only we could foreget about a number of other laws for 25 years or so.

  11. I guess that Oregon didn’t get the message.

    The Fed’s have ruled that any law that places an undue burden on someone who is breaking the law is unconstitutional.

  12. And now for something completely better…

    Most recently pleasing me gulliver in a satisfactory way: Farmer’s Tan from Southern Tier.

    Found it on tap during a recent road trip that took me through Lexington, VA. Delicious and full-bodied, deceivingly lightish-tasting (despite being 9%) beer that is most refreshing on a 100 degree summer day.

  13. Allowing archaic or stupid laws to simply go unenforced is how you wind up with cases like that of Marc Emery. The zealous enforcement of stupid laws helps make sure they actually get repealed, instead of getting dusted off when convenient for prosecutors looking to nail a guy for arbitrary reasons. If Canada had actually amended its laws to make selling pot seeds legal, instead of leaving the law on the books listing it as a life-in-prison offense unamended, the extradition treaty couldn’t have been invoked by the US.

    A law that is unenforced is not a freedom gained; it is a concealed weapon in the pocket of any would-be tyrant in law enforcement.

  14. In 1995 the Texas Legislature passed a CHL law, and made a little booboo. Under the Penal Code licensees could carry in premises licensed to sell alcohol as long as it wasn’t a bar. But the Legislature failed to amend the Alcoholic Beverage Code, so it was still illegal for managers to allow CHLs to carry in their premises.

    The Alcoholic Beverages Commission raised a flag, and declined to enforce the discrepancy until the Legislature could act, which it did in the next session in 1997.

    Problem solved.

  15. Our destiny offers not the cup of despair, but the chalice of opportunity.
    So let us seize it, not in fear, but in gladness. — R.M. Nixon

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