Another Theater Mounts A Legal Battle Against Law Saying It Can't Serve Customers Beer And R-Rated Films At The Same Time

from the with-more-Deadpool-than-usual dept

In the US, you can be given a gun and a chance to catch bullets for your country at age 18. Three years after that, the US government will finally allow you to purchase your own alcohol. At 21, you can finally be the “adult” in “adult beverages.” Except in some states. Some states tie booze purchases to morality. (I mean, even more so. It’s subject everywhere to “sin taxes.”)

As we covered here earlier, the state of Idaho says adults can drink booze and watch movies meant for mature audiences, but not always simultaneously. In Idaho, state police have been busting theaters for showing certain movies while serving alcohol, thanks to statutes that say it’s illegal to serve up both booze and “simulated sexual acts.”

In Idaho, theaters are trying to get the law ruled unconstitutional — pointing out that the law is only selectively enforced (cops raid theaters showing “Fifty Shades of Gray” rather than “American Sniper,” even though both contain depictions of sexual acts) and allows the state to use liquor statutes to regulate speech.

Over in Utah, the same problem exists. The theater targeted here — Brewvies — isn’t taking the state to court. Yet. Instead, it’s fighting to stay alive. It appears a bunch of cops went to see a movie they probably wanted to see anyway while on the clock and handed the theater an ultimatum.

Brewvies is facing a fine of up to $25,000 fine and could lose its liquor license after undercover officers attended a screening of Marvel’s R-rated antihero film “Deadpool” in February.

The state says playing “Deadpool” while serving booze violates Utah law because the movie includes nudity and simulated sex, including a suggestive scene in the film’s credits involving a cartoon unicorn. The obscenity law is generally used to regulate strip clubs, which are required to have dancers wear G-strings and pasties if the club serves liquor.

It also bans showing any film with sex acts or simulated sex acts, full-frontal nudity or the “caressing” of breasts or buttocks if at businesses with liquor licenses.

In addition to seeking funds to pay the threatened fine, the theater is hoping to raise enough to seek an injunction against the statute on the same grounds as the challenge in Idaho: that liquor laws are being abused to regulate First Amendment activity.

The theater is seeking $75,000 and Deadpool himself, Ryan Reynolds, has already pitched in.

The theater has since set up a gofundme page and has raised, at the time of writing, $17,352 out of its $75,000 goal. $5,000 of that came from Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds himself.

The underlying problem is the state’s insistence on deciding what the right combination of booze and entertainment should be for a state full of adults who are legally allowed to do other things far more “adult” than having a beer while watching a movie that contains depictions of sexual activity. Why either activity is OK when enjoyed separately, but somehow a problem when combined, is something only the state pretends to comprehend. These are leftover laws meant to regulate sexually-oriented businesses like strip clubs and porn theaters, but they’re being used to extract fees from theater owners who want to treat adults like adults. Like any other badly-written law, it’s being enforced selectively with an eye on easy citations and excessive fines.

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Comments on “Another Theater Mounts A Legal Battle Against Law Saying It Can't Serve Customers Beer And R-Rated Films At The Same Time”

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John85851 (profile) says:

Small government?

How much do you want to bet these “morality” laws were passed by conservatives, who also preach about smaller government? How is it a good use of government resources (and the goal to have small government) to send police to movie theaters on a raid to see who’s drinking while watching a movie?
Don’t we have much better things to do with the police force?

AJ says:

Re: Small government?

You start your argument with a total guess, then follow up with a complaint that they should have something better to do than enforce the law. The law is stupid, I agree, but cops don’t get to pick and choose what laws they enforce… well… they aren’t SUPPOSED to anyway lol.

I’m a conservative. I think the Government is completely out of control and needs to be reigned in, reduced in size, and it’s power to walk all over the people it’s supposed to represent dialed back. How can anyone not think this way? Look at the very website your posting on!! Every other story on Techdirt, from Copyright to Government spying, from police abuse to asset forfeiture.. story after story, on this very website detailing how our government is completely out of control. I don’t care if your a Republican or Democrat, an out of control government is a non-partisan issue. It’s not doing ANYONE any good.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Small government?

As a centrist with some conservative leanings, he is not wrong in that guess. The problem here is really the problem of blaming one side for doing something that the other does as well. Hypocrisy is a terrible thing.

The conservatives try to push their morality on society while the liberals try to push theirs. Both using hypocritically bankrupt arguments to support their agendas and acting like their shit does not stink!

Government is indeed out of control, and while you are correct that these issues transcend the party’s, you are incorrect that this is a non-partisan issue. “Partisan politics” is exactly what got us into this boat to begin with as foretold by President George Washington.

The moment we decided to sign up for a political party is the moment we handed over control of the government and fell into the ranks of sheeple serving one side or the the other.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Small government?

Fair enough, but politicians caucus into groups such as “Liberal” and “Conservative” anyway. Both the Dems and the Reps have historically had a mix of both. So getting rid of party politics won’t stop them caucusing and it won’t put an end to identity politics. The culture wars will continue where they left off and the identities will take over where the parties left off.

To end the whole “big government” problem we’ve got to take more of an interest in what the critters are doing day to day and be more willing to call them out. Corporations may pay for their campaign funds but ultimately it’s the people who vote for them that get them into office.

Democracy only works as intended when we exercise our democratic duty to hold politicians to account. Sad to say, most of us can’t be bothered to do that.

Ted W. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Small government?

Exactly what I thought. Let’s not just blame one side or the other, because, let’s be honest here, these laws were put into place by the people of Idaho! Before voting on such issues think about the big picture, and consider all options. This may not just be applicable to some video joint that shows porn in private booths, but could also apply to regular movies. Didn’t think of that, did ya? Our government has become a sensational race for drama (for lack of better words) where politicians push their agenda and will fit them into the local agenda, covering up any traces of tge true agenda, complete and utter control.

It’ll be interesting to see how Trump plays out. As a person born and raised in Germany, I can only say, don’t make it this easy, America. Don’t consider the promises and don’t listen to what condidates will it will not do. Always look at what they’ve done so far. Obama surely is one of the biggest liars with his Gitmo agenda, and, most certainly, the extension of the Patriot Act! Think for yourself America, stop following like blind sheep…

And to those of you that will attack me here: Suck my balls, I could care less whether the people of Idaho have booze while they are jerking off to some naked soldiers…haha…it’s what Idaho wanted, and voted for! Don’t care what you have to say, I know the truth!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Small government?

How much do you want to bet these “morality” laws were passed by conservatives, who also preach about smaller government?

While you are right, did you miss all of the other “Morality” laws the liberals like to pass and then also preach about freedom?

The issue of Liberty is a universal one, picking on just one side reveals how bankrupt your integrity is!

Both sides are assaulting our liberty with equal determination, just at different ends of the spectrum!

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Baron von Robber

Your name reminds me of a very relevant quote from CS Lewis:
He thought that you were the lesser evil:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. “

Baron von Robber says:

Re: Re: Baron von Robber

Well I only picked the name when thinking about the book, “The Robber Barons” by Matthew Josephson and just a play on how there were lots of Baron von Whomever’s in Germany. But I pondered what Robber Barons are out there today?

No doubt, some in the banking and finance of the 2008 crisis.
Copyright maximalists.
Patent trolls like Prenda (well, they try to make it the level of Robber Barron).
Those backing super-PACs to write laws via brought politians (IE ALEC).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

yes, the problem is both! Terrible Laws and Terrible policing.

This would be solved if citizens would understand their roles as a jury and refuse to convict citizens being charged with bullshit laws! Especially with laws being wrangled to prosecute people for things those laws were not even intended to address!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

These are probably the same police that Obama got to close down open air memorials, kick an old couple out of their home on federal lands, close down privately run businesses on federal land, usher tourists into Yellowstone lodge every hour so they couldn’t see Old Faithful. All because he was mad at the Republicans. If police can do petty things like this, then they can really do justify about anything no matter how heinous.

Anonymous Coward says:

Want zero population growth? Put an absolute ban on any combination of alcohol and social interaction. The addition of booze to the equation is the only thing that allows 99% of sexual activity to occur. Honestly, poor judgment and lowered standards are a necessity when it comes to putting up with each other, and it’s cheaper & easier to get drunk than it is to get a lobotomy.

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