Flying Dog Wins Freedom of Speech Case
A six-year battle over Flying Dog Brewery’s Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA label ended when a United States Court of Appeals ruled that the Michigan Liquor Control Commission can be held accountable for violating Flying Dog’s First Amendment rights. In 2009, the commission banned the sale of the beer in state, citing it as “detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of the general public.”
The beer features a female dog on its label, designed by Ralph Steadman, who also illustrated Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
“Let this be another lesson to the politically correct crowd. There’s no free ride for violating Americans’ free speech rights,” said Flying Dog attorney Alan Gura, of Washington, D.C,-based Gura & Possessky PLLC. “In 21st Century America, officials cannot ban words, artwork and poetry they dislike. Illegal censorship causes real harm, and Michigan’s liquor commissioners will now be made to pay real money for the damage they’ve done.”
Flying Dog will be able to recover damages from the loss of sales during the ban, which Flying Dog CEO Jim Caruso plans to use to establish a freedom of speech society in the brewery’s hometown of Frederick, Maryland.