Can a Beer Label Be Hazardous to Your Health, Safety and Welfare?

Here's an odd story from the world of packaging. Flying Dog brewery is suing the Michigan Liquor Control Commission on First Amendment grounds after its best-selling beer, Raging Bitch, was banned by the state, which claims the label, designed by Ralph Steadman, is "detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of the general public." Steadman, of course, is known for his quite freaky illustrations, including those in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and many other works by Hunter S. Thompson. The Raging Bitch label, not surprisingly, features a raging bitch—its eyes bloodshot, mouth bloodstained, standing in an apocalyptic landscape of blood spatters and gray explosions. Partly, it's the word bitch that's the sticking point. "As words go, 'bitch' may be just about as close to the 'n'-word as descriptors for women get," state assistant attorney general Donald McGehee wrote in court records. But the drawing is a problem, too. Nida Samona, chairwoman of the liquor commission, says the board objects to the portrayal of "women as wild animals that need to be tamed." Samona also complained, under oath, that the illustration features exposed female genitalia. For its part, Flying Dog says the picture of the dog on the label and the use of "raging" Diablo yeast in the brewing process justifies the beer's name—adding that there was never an intent to offend or to promote the degradation of women. They saw no need to defend Steadman's work. Via PSFK.