It looks like Michigan wants nothing to do with bitchy beers. Last year we saw the ban of Dogfish Head’s Bitches Brew because of the “b” word in the title, and now Flying Dog is suing the state to allow their Raging Bitch Belgian Ale to be sold there.
Raging Bitch was first banned in 2009, when Flying Dog first applied for a license to sell this delicious ale in Michigan, because the beer’s label was deemed “detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare” by the state’s Liquor Control Commission. Flying Dog unleashed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Friday, looking to get the ban lifted.
The Commission has the ability to reject the registration of anything “deemed to promote violence, racism, sexism, intemperance or intoxication or to be detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of the general public.” They think the Raging Bitch label fits this bill, taking particular exception to the beer’s name and a passage on the beer’s label, penned by Gonzo artist and the label’s designer Ralph Steadman.
Steadman is most famous for his collaboration with Hunter S. Thompson on the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and has created many wonderful labels Flying Dog over the years. He thinks the Commission should get over themselves. “Freedom of speech and artistic expression is as fundamental to our being as the alphabet itself. I thought censorship went out with D.H. Lawrence’s ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ about 50 years ago! So if you are feeling a strong itch to drink Raging Bitch, just do it and get on with life.” Wise words indeed!
Flying Dog is suing for the state to reverse its ban based on their First Amendment rights to free speech. They are also seeking to recover damages for revenue lost because of the ban, which are likely substantial. Raging Bitch has become the brewery’s best selling beer and for good reason, namely it’s awesome.
We wish Flying Dog good luck in their pursuit of having the ban lifted. If I was in Michigan, I’d be making some noise about this – you want this beer in your state.