The DABC is threatening to fine Brewvies Cinema Pub and suspend its liquor license for showing an R-rated film (Deadpool). Utah Code forbids an establishment serving alcohol from showing a film or visual reproduction of asexual act or even heavy petting.
Brewvies hired Anderson as their lawyer and filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the state.
DABC Chairman Jeff Wright made it clear at the beginning of the meeting that the commission would have “no dialog with the public” about Brewvies while the suit was pending. He also made it clear that the commission “did not create, did not write, but must enforce” the state’s liquor laws. (See our blog about the folks behind the DABC curtain.) In other words, yelling at the DABC about the state’s stupid liquor laws is the equivalent of screaming at the busboy because your soup is cold.
Two citizens did speak, anyway. Jon V. Harper, the Democratic candidate for state Attorney General, used the opportunity to slam the Republican AG’s office for taking on another expensive lawsuit that they are destined to lose. The section of liquor law applying to Brewvies is flat-out unconstitutional he said, and similar laws have been struck down in other states. Harper referred to a U.S. Supremes case:
The U.S. Supreme Court clearly ruled in 1996, in 44 Liquormart, Inc. v. Rhode Island, that liquor regulations cannot be used to restrict speech that would otherwise be prohibited under the First Amendment. In other words, the State cannot restrict the showing of Deadpool at any location simply because alcohol is involved.
He said the AG’s office should have held off on any action until the Legislature had a chance to eliminate the unconstitutional bits. (As if.)
Zachary Zundel, a citizen not running for anything yet, attempted to engage the commission in a Q & A that bordered on stand-up comedy (not entirely inappropriate at a DABC meeting), but was stopped short.
Zundel’s point was that the law against serving up alcohol along with sexually suggestive images could put some churches (which must have DABC licenses to offer wine with communion) in legal jeopardy if they display explicit images of Christ’s Passion, such as Bouguereau The Flagellation of Christ. (Frankly, this seems unlikely.)
Zundel also pointed out that the labels on some wine bottles in DABC stores are sexually suggestive and probably in violation.