According to the Canadian National Post (sent in by an alert reader — thanks Brian S.), the LCBO — the Liquor Control Board of Ontario — has banned the Christmas beer Samichlaus, from Schloss Eggenberg. Here’s the reason, if you can even call it that.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has decided the beer’s label contravenes rules against advertising to children. It features the name of the beer, Samichlaus, a Swiss-German nickname for the saint behind the Santa Claus legend, and a small black-and-white bearded figure.
It’s apparently a violation of “section 1(4) of the commission’s advertising guidelines, which prohibits liquor packaging aimed at children.”
But the notion that Santa Claus, and by extension Christmas itself, is exclusively the domain of children is absurd on its face. But set that aside for a moment, and look at the label. Have you ever seen a less kid-friendly label? Nothing pulls in kids like a brown label, almost devoid of holiday colors. And the image of Santa Claus they believe puts children at risk? As the article suggests, the label’s image looks more like an “old fisherman [o]r a weather-beaten hobo.” I just see an old man with a beard and a nondescript hat; anything but someone kids would be drawn to the dark side over. How could any reasonable person look at that label and conclude it’s “aimed” at marketing to children?
Of course, Santa Claus — or St. Nicholas — is also the patron saint of brewers and the brewery only makes Samichlaus once a year, on December 6, which is his saint’s feast day.
I’m not sure why this issue keeps coming up, apart from some people seem to have some very strange ideas about who Christmas is for and who gets to decide. And that brings us back to this idea that Santa Claus somehow only appeals to children and is not for adults. I don’t know who the adults are who feel this way, but they must be some of the least empathetic, most stingy, unfeeling curmudgeonly people on the planet because for me the spirit of Santa Claus is about giving, regardless of age. I’m 51, a devout non-believer, and I love Christmas and especially the idea of Santa Claus. And I know I’m not alone on this one.
What’s perhaps most unsettling, is that the entire province has been mobilized to eradicate this scourge of Samichlaus based on a “single complaint from a private person.” Yes, that’s right. One person didn’t like the label and now the rest of the people in the province will be deprived this great beer. Nice going, jackass. This seems to keep happening — in the UK, Philly, San Diego and elsewhere — where the opinion of one person seems to matter more than the collective sensibilities of a whole community or society.
In an earlier post, I referred to this as the “tyranny of the minority,” but perhaps the better question is why government agencies spring into action over just one complaint? With a large population and just a single (or even just a few complaints) shouldn’t the silence of the many be taken into account, too? Ontario has an estimated population of just over 13 million people (as of last year) yet access to a (very good) product has been removed from the entire population because one guy didn’t like it. This is not how decisions should be made in a democracy or even in a “federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy.”