Rev. Creech gives passionate speech to Commission against the profane label
By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
March 12, 2021
Late last year, Charlotte-based Sycamore Brewing tried unsuccessfully to get approval to feature the F-word on the label of its BUBS lemon lime hard seltzer, a beverage they referred to in social media posts as a “cheeky celebration of the end of 2020.” On Wednesday, they tried again.
But the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, which had nixed the plan in mid-December, voted to deny an appeal filed by the brewers, confirming its commitment to prohibiting designs “deemed undignified, immodest or in bad taste.”
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, thanked the Commission for preventing the use of the label, which he said would only contribute to “a more coarse society.”
“It is not the quality of the product that will be the focus, but instead, its title, which I argue is egregiously offensive to many, if not most, who would prefer such language not to be prominent in the public domain,” Creech asserted.
During the online meeting, the Commission heard from Michael Boyer, an attorney for Sycamore owners Justin and Sarah Brigham. He said ABC regulations are unclear and unfair.
Boyer said the rule that ABC staff cited in denying the label shouldn’t apply to the proposed can design because it references depictions of people consuming alcohol, while the F— 2020 can doesn’t portray drinkers. He said other brewers had been allowed to use labels portraying the middle finger or to use partial spellings of the F-word and that F— 2020 is a popular sentiment and thus acceptable in the marketplace.
Creech was quick to point out that while it is true that the F-word has become quite prevalent in use today, it is still “bleeped” on radio or television and generally rejected in most advertising.
“Whenever we hear a single letter followed by the word ‘word,’ whether it’s the N-word, the P-word, or the F-word, we take that word as the most offensive of its kind in most settings. The N-word is considered so offensive that it’s painful even to use it as an example. But we should also be quite aware that sexually offensive words such as the C-word, or the P-word, and the F-word are also an assault on many citizens’ hearing,” Creech said.
He shared the words of longtime columnist Bob Greene, who proclaimed that “words are vehicles; they convey messages. And to some people, the use of profanity is a message of ugliness and aggressiveness, and a disrespect for civil behavior.”
This week was not the first time that Sycamore Brewing, open since 2014, has run afoul of ABC regulations while trying to market a new product. The company was fined $1,000 and had its 2019 Christmas Cookie Winter Ale pulled from shelves following a complaint about the labels, which featured reindeer in sexual positions. The design had not been approved by ABC.
The following is Rev. Mark Creech’s full speech to the ABC Commission:
Chairman Guy and other Commission members, my name is Rev. Mark Creech, and I am the executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina.
First, I want to express my appreciation for the opportunity to speak with you today. Moreover, on behalf of the thousands of churches with which the Christian Action League networks, I thank you for the excellent job you’re doing to protect public health and safety from alcohol abuse by the Commissions’ regulation efforts.
I have been aware of Sycamore Brewing’s proposition to name one of their products with a vulgar expletive for some time now. The F-word is unquestionably one of the more robust uses of profanity in society. Whenever we hear a single letter followed by the word “word,” whether it’s the N-word, the P-word, or the F-word, we take that word as the most offensive of its kind in most settings. The N-word is considered so offensive that it’s painful even to use it as an example. But we should also be quite aware that sexually offensive words such as the C-word, or the P-word, and the F-word are also an assault on many citizens’ hearing.
Let’s not fool ourselves; we know how objectionable the word is because it’s often replaced with substitutes such as “freaking,” “frigging,” and “fricking.” But I suggest that the F-word is so repulsive even its substitutes conjure up the word itself and only make the use of it slightly less than full use of the word.
It is true the F-word has become quite prevalent in use today. Even some governing bodies may have approved its use. Nevertheless, it is still not entirely acceptable because radio and television still bleep or edit the word whenever purposely or inadvertently used on most public airwaves. I think it is also generally rejected in most advertising.
Some may point out in defense of the word that studies argue using expletives can be a good thing. But the research demonstrates the science is mixed. For instance, one study says that using such words can help with pain, while another says it essentially does nothing for pain. Some research says it can help facilitate bonding and morale among employees. Still, other studies say its use can keep you from climbing the corporate ladder and makes a person look unprofessional and incompetent. One study claims politicians who pepper their sentences with swearwords can seem more persuasive to a friendly audience. Simultaneously, it is also true that it has just the opposite effect on a skeptical audience. So there is no definitive research to show such words are actually necessary or in the best interest of the general welfare.
Let me conclude with a quote from Bob Greene of the Field Newspaper Syndicate, who once wrote about swearing in our society. He said:
“Obscenity, the open use of which used to be a mark of lower social strata, has somehow become acceptable…And yet, I am offended – not out of a sense of morality or prudishness – but because foul language use casually in public comes close to the idea of a violation of privacy. I know that there are some around who feel assaulted by it…certain language is an assault on the senses. Those who disagree are probably saying, ‘after all, it’s only words.’ But words are vehicles; they convey messages. And to some people, the use of profanity is a message of ugliness and aggressiveness, and a disrespect for civil behavior. This practice is usually defended under the name of ‘freedom.’ But whose freedom is it? If the language of ugliness becomes so much a part of our society that it is impossible to escape no matter where one turns, then who is really free and who isn’t?”
Commission members, the Christian Action League, would thank you to deny this proposal, which will only contribute to a more coarse society. It is not the quality of the product that will be the focus, but instead, its title, which I argue is egregiously offensive to many, if not most, who would prefer such language not to be prominent in the public domain.