What do you think of Silver Bay’s vote to remove a local beer from a municipal liquor store?

“The Silver Bay City Council voted 3-2 to remove Bent Paddle beer from the municipal liquor store in response to the brewery’s stance on proposed copper mining in the region,” reports Jamey Malcomb of the Duluth News Tribune.

The vote went against a city Liquor Commission recommendation to allow customers to make a choice about whether to purchase the products, and allow the market to determine if there is a reason to remove Bent Paddle from shelves.

The City Council vote was spurred by a strongly worded email from a Silver Bay resident who objected to products made by Duluth-based Bent Paddle Brewing Co. being sold in the city’s municipal liquor store because of the brewery’s membership in the Downstream Business Coalition. The coalition is a group of 68 businesses who oppose proposed copper mining projects in Northeastern Minnesota — such as the PolyMet project near Hoyt Lakes. They say the potential environmental damage from mine waste could do greater harm to the region’s economy than added mining jobs will help.

Today’s Question: What do you think of Silver Bay’s vote to remove a local beer from a municipal liquor store?

  • kevins

    No better way to vote than with your debit card! Now this is government intrusion.

  • blindeke

    have you ever been to silver bay? p sure nobody much uses that liquor store anyway.

  • PaulJ

    Squeaky wheel getting the grease: that’s story of – that’s the glory of- beer.

  • MrE85

    It is their store, so they can sell what they want. They look petty and foolish, though.

  • KTN

    Pretty sure if Bent Paddle wanted to fight it they could on 1st A grounds. The City of Silver Bay cannot stifle speech they might find objectionable, at least not without breaking the law.
    I wonder if the city will make us sell our vacation home in Silver Bay too, since I’m against the mine.
    Usually buy Castle Danger beer when we’re there, but from now on it’s Bent Paddle from the Green Door.

    • MrE85

      This is not a matter of free speech. It’s a commercial and political matter. Now if Bent Paddle was located in Silver Bay, and the city began a series of unfair actions against the brewer, it would be another matter. Refusing to sell your beer does not rise to the level of a constitutional rights battle, even after Citizen’s United.

      • KTN

        I disagree. The store is operated by the city government, and as such, they cannot deny Bent Paddle because of how the owners of Bent Paddle think (regardless of the message, unless it violates community standards). If Bent Paddle was selling a product that was dangerous or a threat to the community they might have a case, but in this instance its the city government telling a brewer “we don’t like how you think, therefore we are going to deny you the right to sell your beer in our city run store. Nope, can’t do that.

        • MrE85

          I’m no lawyer, so maybe you are right. It seems silly on the city’s part, in any case, so I stand with you.

          Your comment on the sale of “…a product that was dangerous or a threat to the community.” reminded me that the last time I was in my local muni liquor store, I noted they sold tobacco products, too.


          • KTN

            Beer should be chilled, but speech, not so much.

          • MrE85

            HA! Well said.

  • reggie

    I have a great deal of respect and sympathy for workers whose jobs have been reduced or eliminated due to changes in technology, changes in markets, changes in corporate commitments to the communities in which they exist, etc., etc. But for local government to get as deep in the weeds as specifying what beers are stocked in the local muni… well, I think maybe these folks have missed the big picture. If they think that their income from outdoor recreation (a sustainable industry, unlike mining) won’t suffer if these new proposed mines go through, then they are more than just backward-looking and petty.

  • Dave

    The first ammendment and protected speech does not apply in Silver Bay? Maybe they could ban products made by businesses who associate with other people they don’t like, too. Absolute vodka supports the supreme court overturning the defense of marriage act and Miller-Coors supports gun control. Maybe the city council could ban those as well? (That is sarcasm, BTW)

  • Gary F

    The people of Silver Bay could show their displeasure by not shopping there too.

  • John Dilligaf

    The government’s responsibility is to allow and protect free individual expression that differs from their own, especially when those expressions are unpopular. We don’t punish unpopular speech through the government. We protect the speech of the KKK, flag burners, the artist who produced pissChrist, both sides of the global warming debate (at least until Loretta Lynch decides whether or not it’s a crime to hold an opposing view).

    When it’s a city-owned establishment, they cannot decide to stop carrying a product because they disagree with the political views of the producer.

  • lindblomeagles

    I agree with the 68 businesses that oppose copper mining. The problem is Duluth residents are too worried about job loss, allowing their fear and anger to trump common sense. Banning a beer because the owners are environmentalists is just stupid. That’s like saying I won’t watch Sesame Street because Cookie Monster promotes cookies for a snack. It’s that childish. Silver Bay should have stood up to the residents, reminding them how much America embraces the First Amendment, while acknowledging the public’s legitimate concern about job growth.

    • Gordon near Two Harbors

      Sometimes you have to move away from mommy and daddy to find work…and that’s OK.

  • Starr Marshall

    I think this is ridiculous because ONE Silver Bay resident sent a letter, and now the government has their hands in it because of a political issue. You can be sure that myself and my friends that USED to visit Silver Bay on our motorcycle rides up the Shore will no longer be doing so. I will also be urging my 2400 friends on FB to NOT stop in Silver Bay on their trips up the shore. Bent Paddle is not a political system, they make beer! Very Hitleresque of these businesses to boycott other local products. It does present a great opportunity though for the general public to BOYCOTT SILVER BAY!