Wit Caught in a Wringer

Port Brewing LLC recently got its wit caught in a wringer. The beer label depicts a witch being burned at the stake. Various wiccans, pagans, shamans and others were not amused and The New York Times was there to cover it. About a week before Halloween, the Times article quoted an offended person thusly:

“Can you imagine them showing a black person being lynched or a Jewish person going to the oven?” she wrote. “Such images are simply not tolerated in our society anymore (thank the Goddess) and this one should not be, either.”

To witch which the brewer responded:

We have been accused of inspiring violence against women, and we have been compared to the violence in Darfur. … It has run the gamut from people saying politely, ‘This is offensive to pagans,’ to people saying we are responsible for all that is wrong in the world.

Port seems to be in the process of changing the label. Port’s co-founder said he was “‘totally in favor’ of changing the label and that he and his co-workers had been ‘ignorantly unaware of the mistake’ they had made.”

The brewery explained that, far from being an attack on women:

Witch’s Wit is in a line of Catholic-themed beers, like Inferno Ale and Judgment Day, conceived in the spirit of gentle satire by Tomme Arthur, another of the brewery’s owners. Mr. Arthur says he is “a recovering Catholic.” … [The company also said it] “would really like to have some kind of contest for a great label.”

It sounds like the system worked pretty well, without a lot of extra governmental intervention. The label got approved way back in 2008 and there was little fanfare. Eventually, a bunch of people got offended, spoke up, and Port quickly decided to change the label. Beernews has a lot more good information about this controversy. For those who did not get enough witch-action on Halloween, here is a squished witch and here is a burning one.

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