Words & Deeds

Deeds: Idaho lawmakers might really fix alcohol law

Village Cinema at The Village at Meridian was targeted in 2015 by Idaho State Police for selling alcohol at the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Village Cinema at The Village at Meridian was targeted in 2015 by Idaho State Police for selling alcohol at the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey.” doswald@idahostatesman.com

Somebody in Idaho call President Trump. We’d better build a wall.

The Gem State appears to be in danger of joining the 21st century.

In the near future, Idaho movie theaters might be able to sell a glass of wine to consenting adults without fear of reprisal from Idaho State Police. A bill to eliminate ridiculous, antiquated language from state alcohol statute was introduced Feb. 26 in the Idaho House. Sponsored by Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, the legislation miraculously materialized after a lawsuit was filed against state police.

For decades, Idaho alcohol law has banned visual references to our naughty bits, including the sort of stuff you see in PG-13 flicks. Bart Simpson’s naked skateboarding scene in “The Simpsons Movie”? That’s bad in Idaho, mm-kay? State police’s Alcohol Beverage Control conducted a sting last year at the R-rated box-office hit “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Police threatened to revoke Village Cinema’s ability to sell alcohol. In response, Village Cinema operator Meridian Cinemas sued.

So now we have this long-overdue bill, which will get a full hearing as early as Tuesday.

“So this then would provide greater First Amendment protections for theaters such as the Village and The Flicks?” Rep. John McCrostie, D-Garden City, asked in front of the House State Affairs committee.

“Absolutely,” Palmer said.

But let’s not kid ourselves. The impetus for Palmer’s legislative proposal isn’t common sense. Or freedom of speech. It’s cold, hard cash. A Village at Meridian business in Palmer’s district was being bullied economically by the state.

Who cares why this bill was introduced? It just needs to pass. The revised language strikes all the unconstitutional hand wringing about nudity and sex. Instead, its standard becomes state and federal indecency, obscenity and pornography laws. Just remember: This applies only to films, still pictures, electronic reproductions or other visual reproductions. Not Chippendales stud muffins or strippers. (Sorry, Torch Lounge, but you’re stuck with your bikini dancers. On the other hand, art galleries and museums would appear to benefit from this bill.)

Theoretically, it could even make alcohol sales acceptable at NC-17 movies, which grace Boise once a decade or so and generally stir up a mini-frenzy.

Legal or not, I would not expect to see an NC-17 movie at a theater serving beer. Because I would totally expect Alcohol Beverage Control to organize another popcorn-munching field trip to the theater and challenge the legality.

We’re still living in Idaho, after all.

Miller time at Outlaw Field

If you read my column Friday, you know that Bonnie Raitt is headed to the Idaho Botanical Garden’s Outlaw Field on Sept. 13.

Another concert was announced too late to make it in the print edition of Scene: Steve Miller, who is coming to Outlaw Field on Aug. 21.

Other concerts coming to Outlaw Field include Tony Bennett (June 2) and Paul Simon (May 23, sold out).

Best of Treasure Valley

Nominations have begun for the annual Best of Treasure Valley readers poll. Go to idahostatesman.com/BOTV to nominate your favorite musician, restaurant or other business. Nominations go through March 13. Voting for the nominees begins March 24.

Tonight in ‘The Other Studio’

Interested in Boise’s concert scene? Tonight on “The Other Studio,” Tim Johnstone and I will discuss the latest news, plus spin fresh music from Bonnie Raitt, Wild Nothing, Weezer, M83 and more.

“The Other Studio” airs at 8 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.

In Scene March 11

▪  A restaurant review of Berryhill, the new two-in-one incarnation of Berryhill and Co. and Bacon.

▪  Ready for St. Patrick’s Day? We’ll have a roundup of festivities.

Michael Deeds: 208-377-6407, @michaeldeeds

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