Shelton F’s with Beer, Art, and Commercial Speech

Way back in mid-December of 2012 I would have considered this Shelton Brothers COLA to be, perhaps, an aberration. But upon checking it again, today, I see a few more COLAs with the same word — arguably in need of the fig leafs above.

It is hard to believe that the government did not see the word at issue. On the above-linked COLA it appears no less than three times. This may signal that, as social mores liberalize and budgets shrink, the government has bigger (or fewer) fish to fry. Clearly, it signals that Daniel Shelton does not mind pushing the envelope, or many. The Amherst College magazine unabashedly explains that, after graduating from Amherst, Shelton:

went to a prestigious law school … then clerked for a judge (on a tropical Pacific isle, of all places) and finally secured a position at a venerable firm in Washington, D.C. (but convinced Shea & Gardner that he needed to spend a year bumming around Africa before starting.) … “My Amherst education has not been wasted at all. I use it more in this business than I ever did in lawyering. I never was completely comfortable with the idea of being a lawyer, anyway.”

This creaky old regulation still prohibits any beer labeling that is “obscene or indecent.” At this rate, however, it is difficult or uncomfortable to imagine something that goes too far — or too far for Dan. Many thanks to Mark for showing me these labels.

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2 Responses to “Shelton F’s with Beer, Art, and Commercial Speech”

  1. January 3rd, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Peter Egelston says:

    I think this is less an indication of shifting social standards and more an indication of how drastically reduced the TTB’s budget is. I spoke on the phone to a TTB formula specialist a few months back who confided that he was now one of only two people reviewing formulations for the entire country.

    And at some point in the last year I noticed this curious language appearing on our approved COLA’s:

    “TTB has not reviewed this label for type size, characters per inch or contrasting background. The responsible industry member must continue to ensure that the mandatory information on the actual labels is displayed in the correct type size, number of characters per inch, and on a contrasting background in accordance with the TTB labeling regulations, 27 CFR parts 4, 5, 7, and 16, as applicable.”

    Are label approvals now based on the honor system? These are the very same folks who used to reject applications based on type sized off by fractions of a pica point. I wonder sometimes if a real human reviews these applications at all any more!


  2. January 4th, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Mark says:

    I was amazed these labels were approved. I’m not offended by them but to see that the government either does not mind them or somehow overlooked all three labels sure does seem like a big change. I wonder if some states will take offense to them?

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