Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fentiman's on the Colbert Report

Maine was back in the national media spotlight last week after the Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report” did a segment on the Fentiman’s Victorian Lemonade “incident” in Houlton, ME last November.

What the “Colbert Report” glosses over is what we wrote about when the incident first came to light – it is simply against Maine law to sell imitation liquor to a minor, and according to the law, Fentiman’s qualifies.

As the Bangor Daily News mentions (“'Colbert' nails fermented lemonade”, 4/9/10), though, the satirical show highlights that Attorney General Janet Mills and Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin can both have a good sense of humor--while still sticking to the decision they made. Chief Asselin standing in the middle of the road, glaring at the camera, pouring out a lemonade bottle? Pretty funny. AG Janet Mills staring down a bottle of the lemonade in her office? Comedy gold.

Yes, to those who may not have known about Maine’s laws beforehand, the situation probably seems ludicrous. And did we laugh at the Colbert Report skit? Absolutely.

What bears repeating is that the actual alcohol content alone was never the problem with imitation liquor of any kind – it’s pretty easy to see that getting drunk off something with less than 0.5% ABV is extremely unlikely. But the sale of imitation liquor is illegal for minors in Maine for good reason: imitation liquor can be confusing for law enforcement officials looking for kids drinking, and—more importantly—it teaches youngsters to enjoy the taste and habit of alcohol consumption.

Nailed ‘em, Colbert? Sure, but so did we.

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