Censorship by Idaho Alcohol Beverage Control Police Has Moviegoers Seeing Fifty Shades Of Red

fifty-shades-posterBy Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

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


Idaho Statesman

Idaho Statues 23-614

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.

139 thoughts on “Censorship by Idaho Alcohol Beverage Control Police Has Moviegoers Seeing Fifty Shades Of Red”

  1. She was a fascinating woman, but before some busy bodies start imaging that I have anything in common with her, I do not. I loved her picture, my avatar. I then did some research on her and found she was a human woman with faults, brains, beauty, independance and a unique persona.

  2. Apparently it is possible that her young son died from congenital syphilis, caught from the father. There are certainly accounts of her husband having it. When they broke up, her ex told the shops not to lend her credit because he was no longer responsible for her. That drove her to desperation, first prostitution, then dancing, and later back to prostitution, albeit high priced. Her ex was able to use all the nude pictures of her circulating throughout Europe to gain custody of their daughter. She lied about her past as the daughter of a humble Dutch shop keeper, claiming she was the daughter of an Indian temple dancer. And apparently she never learned how to control her spending, or she wouldn’t have found herself in such desperate straights. Unfortunately, she was so successful as a dancer that Paris was soon filled with younger imitators.

    It appears that men were her ultimate downfall, because the same men she’d charmed certainly didn’t trust her. It was a perfect storm – she wasn’t choosy about her lovers, she accepted vast sums of money from both sides, and there was German spy fever in France at the time, a country hard hit by the war. When the accusations came, no one was willing to risk their necks for her, so at the end, she was friendless. I imagine such a sad story would indeed make for a good documentary or movie. Hollywood loves tragedies.

    I find her life as a dancer more interesting than her personal life, which wavered from impossible highs to terrible lows.


    1. Karen and Inga

      I am going to blow a hole in your romantic fantasy

      This is not romantic. It is a horrible tragedy. Be real. Son has congenital syphilis. My God. I have to go wash out my brain.

  3. Ken – Thanks. I didn’t know that’s what began the thread. She did die with dignity, didn’t she. I heard she blew them a kiss.

    I rather think her greatest detractors were those who shot her, who were men. Her life was so incredibly sad, poor thing. I imagine she thought it was an adventure, going off to the Indies. What must she have felt when she’d slid so low that she was sleeping with men she didn’t want to get furs and cash? For some reason it brings to mind that pensive, exhausted shot of Marilyn Monroe taken candidly after a photo shoot. She was no prostitute, but Marilyn did put on a persona to appeal to male fantasies and achieve stardom. It wrung her out, and rather than make her strong, it made her unhappy, unstable, and self destructive. I always wondered what Marilyn would have accomplished if she’d thrown off all that glamour and just focused on honing her craft of acting. I know she was trying, at the end.

    Mata Hari chose her persona and her stage name because anything “Oriental” was all the rage, and burlesque enabled her to be desirable enough that men paid her bills and kept her in style. She could choose her lovers. Until, that is, she hit her 40s. And then those kinds of men preferred younger dancers. So she had to go farther to get that money.

    1. @Inga

      Mais certainement, Mademoiselle Inga. You just love her picture.

      We’d like you to come in for a few questions regarding the nature of your relationship with a certain Colonel Wolfgang Fritzgruber.

      Si vous ne avez rien à cacher, vous ne avez rien à craindre non?

      Or should we say, Wenn Sie nichts zu verbergen haben, nichts zu befürchten haben Sie, nein?

      We assure you that, as our American colleagues like to say, “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about, OK?

      Building A
      11 Rue du GENERAL DE GAULLE
      74001 PARIS

      10:00 AM Wednesday, then?

  4. All strong beautiful intelligent women have their worst detractors in other women, the green eyed monsters.

  5. Shelly – thanks for reprinting the prayer. Sounds like a wonderful sentiment. I would have enjoyed hearing it.

    For me, tolerance means viewing other people’s practice of religion, or absence thereof, saying, “How interesting,” and going on about my day.

  6. Ken:

    I don’t know how we got on Mata Hari, but hers is a truly tragic story. She answered a blind ad for a bride, became married to an angry drunk in the East Indies, her son was poisoned, her husband left with their daughter, and to support herself, she became a burlesque dancer. She would not bare her breasts, however, because she was shy about the changes childbirth wrought. At 40, she wasn’t in much demand, so she became a courtesan who slept with men for money, and she wasn’t too choosy. What is tragic is that she apparently did not sleep with all these men because she was overcome with passion for them; it was out of desperation. Unfortunately, since she slept with, and was handsomely paid by, both Germans and French, it was rather easy to paint her as a double agent in WWI. It is possible that Germany set up her to be branded a double agent, but I doubt we will ever know if she truly was one, or just sold her favors to anyone who had enough money.

    She reminds me of those young women who marry much older men for their money, and then go on through a series of relationships after their marriage breaks up, trying to look like they’re 20 when they’re 50. It was sad and self destructive then, and it’s sad now.

    I don’t view someone as sexually liberated, independent, or strong who sleeps with men for money out of desperation to support herself in a glamorous lifestyle. And I don’t know that I consider her a courtesan, because she really did not limit herself to a wealthy patron. Rather, she ended up as a very high priced prostitute with equally high spirits and a very depressing life.

    If I remember correctly, she made the “Dance of the 7 Veils” famous.


  7. The salient point would be her opinion about non-Christian faiths would have repercussions among non-Christian voters.

  8. Shelly:

    “Paraphrasing from the first video (posted at 2:33): The three senators stayed outside, refusing to be present for the Hindu prayer. They believe it shouldn’t be allowed for state business, but they had no problem with routine use of Christian prayers for state business. When asked if she felt that she was giving preferential treatment to Christianity over other religions, Senator Nuxoll: “No. We have a nation founded on freedom of religion, which means the freedom to practice [their] religion, which means that we have the freedom to not have a STATE religion.” She added at the end, “I hope this doesn’t set a precedent for any other non-Christian faiths to be in the Senate chambers to lead us.””

    If that’s all that happened, I don’t see a big deal. Atheists do this all the time when Christians pray. She left and she stated her opinion. I don’t agree with her opinion, but it’s a free country.

    Personally, I think it would have been cool to see the Hindu prayer.

  9. “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a military lawyer, is the first member of Congress to say the legislature needs to explore the possibility, however unlikely, of limiting some kinds of free speech—like Terry Jones’ Quran burning —that help America’s enemies.

    “ ‘I wish we could find a way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war,’ he told CBS’s Bob Schieffer on ‘Face the Nation.’ ”

    This is another wonderful example of Lindsey Graham’s authoritarian stupidity and exactly what James Madison warned against:

    “Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes and the opportunities of fraud growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” http://scholars-stage.blogspot.com/2010/10/james-madison-on-war-and-liberty.html

  10. Ken Rogers…..The “Nickelback/Nickel Sack” saga in Idaho is emblematic of a virtual hysteria among Idaho LE about enforcing their laws on marijuana.There is additionally an almost xenophobic concern about the possibility of motorists from other states (most of which have more lenient laws re pot)invading their turf, and that mindset is causing a lot of problems.
    Whether Idaho recognizes it or not, this kind of “overzealous” enforcement often backfires. Things like the Roseen v
    Idaho lawsuit are almost inevitable, even if they may get away with pulling this stuff 99 times out of 100. A lot of people won’t call them on it when they cross a line, but some, like Mr. Roseen, will.
    There are some genuinely humorous elements to the Nickeback/Nickel Sack incident, but these kinds of events can cause real damage.
    E.G., these young guys may have had a favorable, or neutral, view of cops before this incident. This color their views on and confidence in law enforcement.
    The public relies on law enforcement, law enforcement relies on the public, and neither benefit from the extreme and unreasonable type of enforcement Idaho is displaying.
    I will give Lt. Miller credit for his statement on the Nickel/Nickelsack incident. From the quotes I saw, he didn’t resort to the kind of self-serving garbage that the Idaho State Police routinely spit out. He hit just about the right note in not resorting to that kind of PR B.S.

  11. Ken,
    Someone is making a movie about her life. I think she was an interesting woman who was born too soon. Society wasn’t ready for her. Strong, independent, intelligent women weren’t much appreciated in those days.

  12. Shelly,
    I think that was lovely. But how insulting to have people walk out on one’s prayer because it’s not Christian. Best not to inject religion into state activity at any rate, IMO.

  13. Here is the invocation that was said by Hindu cleric Rajan Zed of Reno, Nevada on March 3, 2015 (starts at 02:22, ends at 05:16) to the Idaho legislature (I left off the Sanskrit):

    We meditate on the transcendental glory of the Deity Supreme, who is inside the heart of the earth, inside the life of the sky, and inside the soul of the Heaven. May He stimulate and illuminate our minds.

    Lead us from the unreal to the real. Lead us from darkness to light. Lead us from death to immortality.

    Fulfill all your duties. Action is better than inaction. Even to maintain your body, you are obliged to act. Selfish action imprisons the world. Act selflessly without any thought of personal profit.

    Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world. By devotion to selfless, one obtains the supreme goal of life. Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind.

    May we be protected together. May we be nourished together. May we work together with great vigor. May we ___ (?) the enlightening. May no obstacle rise between us.

    Unite with your resolve, unite with your hearts. May your spirits be at one that you may long together dwell in unity and concord.

    Peace. Peace. Peace be unto all.
    Thank you.


  14. I agree, there should be NO prayers in government meetings and offices.

  15. Paraphrasing from the first video (posted at 2:33): The three senators stayed outside, refusing to be present for the Hindu prayer. They believe it shouldn’t be allowed for state business, but they had no problem with routine use of Christian prayers for state business. When asked if she felt that she was giving preferential treatment to Christianity over other religions, Senator Nuxoll: “No. We have a nation founded on freedom of religion, which means the freedom to practice [their] religion, which means that we have the freedom to not have a STATE religion.” She added at the end, “I hope this doesn’t set a precedent for any other non-Christian faiths to be in the Senate chambers to lead us.”

  16. Since it appears that the Idaho legislative body regularly opens with a prayer and has had other religions and since Hinduism is a religion that is ancient, practiced by millions of people, I don’t see what the big deal is. It isn’t like they are having Santeria practitioners gutting chickens on the floor of the Senate. Hinduism is a well respected religion.

    If people don’t want to listen, they have every right to leave.

    If you want separation of “Church and State” then you should have ANY prayers in the governmental offices. None, Nada, Zip. No picking and choosing who gets to give the prayer. NO one does or everyone does.

    I prefer no one.

    However,…..You can’t have it both ways.

  17. Shelly – my internet is slow today, so I can’t watch the video. Did the Senator try to prevent the prayer from being heard, or just leave? Did she comment about it at the time, or later?

    My opinion on her actions depends on the above. I have absolutely no problem with anyone praying in public, if that is according to their beliefs. I have no problem with anyone leaving so they don’t have to hear it, or making their own opinion known. If the senator tried to prevent someone else from praying, I would have a problem with that.

    I am curious if the Hindu prayer was conducted by someone participating in the Senate, or was an outside official brought in to make the prayer.

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