“Raid in the shade: Men with guns are cracking down on brand-name bar umbrellas” says the Times-Picayune headline. Strange but true.
Armed officers of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) have been demanding that cafes remove all their outdoor umbrellas that show any alcohol brand name. The umbrellas may be the international symbol of the café experience from the boulevards of Paris to the bistros of Buenos Aires to the beaches of Miami --- but they’re illegal in Louisiana. Seeing them will make people drink, at least that’s the view of Louisiana’s 1930s temperance-era law.
And alcohol-branded umbrellas aren’t the only prohibited contraband. Louisiana law specifically prohibits bars and restaurants from displaying the brand name of any alcoholic beverage outside their establishments. That includes any such display that are at all visible anywhere from outside the premises. They must be completely shielded from the eyes of innocents.
Observes one restaurant operator, “Here’s the stupid thing: I could put an umbrella out there that says ‘Kiss My A _ _ and that wouldn’t be illegal… But because it says ‘Bud,’ we gotta get rid of it.”
He doesn’t understand -- just doesn’t get it. Seeing “Kiss My A _ _” wouldn’t make anyone drink alcohol so it doesn’t corrupt or harm society.
We can all sleep better now, at least in Louisiana.