Idaho Liquor Licensees who show movies have been served with notice demanding that they not show the blockbuster Hollywood hit “Fifty Shades of Grey” while serving alcoholic beverages. The agency claims that doing so violates Idaho law prohibiting the display of sexually explicit movies while serving alcohol.
Many are wondering why the ABC singled out Fifty Shades of Grey and not various other R-Rated movies having sexual situations that dominate the movie industry.
We previously wrote of past prudishness by the Idaho ABC. In 2012 we covered how the ABC prohibited Utah based Ogden’s Own Distillery from selling their Five Wives Vodka in the state–alleging that it was “Offensive to Mormons” (Click HERE, HERE, and HERE. for further reading.) Note for full disclosure, in reaction to this censorship your author assisted Ogden’s Own move into Washington State and sold their products)
In an interview with the Idaho Statesman, Michele Williams stated:
I was not drinking or wanting to drink. I just found it odd that this movie was singled out. I just thought, ‘what year am I living in here? Women can’t control themselves when they drink during this movie’ I don’t know what the message was.
Last month the State Police’s Alcohol Beverage Control agency contacted the Village Cinema and informed them that if the theater shows Fifty Shades of Grey, they would be breaking state law if they also served alcohol.
Theresa Baker, the ABC’s spokeswoman said they began their investigation when they received a complaint of the showing of Fifty Shades by Village Cinema. Other theaters reportedly were then given notice to censor this movie if they intend to serve alcohol. One complaint and the entire state is affected. So much for discretion in the eyes of enforcement bureaucrats.
Here is the statute cited by the ABC:
23-614. Prohibited acts — Misdemeanors — Penalties. (1) No person, partnership, association or corporation shall conduct, permit, or encourage any of the following acts or activities in or upon premises licensed pursuant to title 23, Idaho Code:
(a) Employment or use of any person, including allowing any person on the premises, while such person is unclothed or in such attire, costume or clothing as to expose to view any portion of the female breast below the top of the areola or of any portion of the pubic hair, anus, cleft of the buttocks, vulva or genitals.
(b) Employment or use of any person who touches, caresses or fondles the breast, buttocks, anus or genitals of any other person, or who is so touched, caressed or fondled by another person.
(c) Employment or use of any person to wear or use any device or covering, exposed to view, which simulates the breast, genitals, anus, pubic hair or any portion thereof.
(d) Employment or use of any person to perform acts of or acts which simulate sexual intercourse, masturbation, sodomy, bestiality, oral copulation, flagellation or any sexual acts which are prohibited by law.
(e) The showing of films, still pictures, electronic reproductions, or other visual reproductions depicting:
(i) Acts or simulated acts of sexual intercourse, masturbation, sodomy, bestiality, oral copulation, flagellation or any sexual acts which are prohibited by law.
(ii) Any person being touched, caressed or fondled on the breast, buttocks, anus or genitals.
(iii) Scenes wherein a person displays the vulva or the anus or the genitals.
(iv) Scenes wherein artificial devices or inanimate objects are employed to portray any of the prohibited activities described in this section.
(2) A violation of any of the provisions of this section by any agent, employee, or other person in any way acting on behalf of a licensee shall constitute a misdemeanor, and upon conviction such person shall be fined not less than the sum of one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than the sum of three hundred dollars ($300), or be imprisoned in the county jail for not less than thirty (30) days nor more than six (6) months, or both such fine and imprisonment. Any court in which a judgment of conviction is entered shall certify a copy thereof to the director, and the director shall thereupon commence administrative proceedings. The director shall review the circumstances and may take action he considers appropriate against the licensee including suspension of the license for not to exceed six (6) months, a fine, or both such suspension and fine or may revoke the license.
(3) In addition to misdemeanor violations or other criminal proceedings instituted under this section, upon sufficient proof to the director, the director shall take administrative action as provided in subsection (2) of this section against any licensee in the event any person is found to have committed any of the above proscribed acts. The proceedings shall be in accordance with provisions of the administrative procedure act.
One has to question why all PG-13 and above rated movies are not in violation of this statute or at least it is certainly odd that a seventeen-year-old may go into a theater and watch Fifty Shades of Grey but a senior citizen may not when shown this in a movie bar.
It probably goes that the state legislature wanted to curtail nude dancing and peep shows of XXX rated type of displays in furtherance of selling alcoholic beverages. British Columbia on Idaho’s northern border allows this and does not however seem to have descended into debauchery as a result. Nevertheless while the state can argue its ability to regulate explicit displays for commercial purposes. (as overseen by the courts) But, it could prove a difficult case to win in the case of Fifty Shades since this movie is ubiquitous in open society in general.
By Darren Smith
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.