"We don't believe in censorship," declared one of the Michigan regulators who tried to ban Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA because the label offended him. In my latest Forbes column, I explain how Flying Dog Brewery, which produces Raging Bitch, managed to win damages from the officials who blocked its beer:
This month Flying Dog Brewery is launching a 1st Amendment Society, funded by the damages the Maryland company won from Michigan officials who tried to ban its Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA. The new organization, which will sponsor a journalism scholarship and talks on freedom of speech, is the product of a six-year legal battle that began in 2009, when members of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission took offense at the Raging Bitch label, which the agency had to approve before the beer could legally be sold in that state. The episode, one of many pitting bold brewers against bluenosed bureaucrats, shows how readily alcohol regulation becomes a cover for censorship and how easily petty tyrants conflate their personal tastes with the public interest.