by Ari Armstrong
The following article originally appeared at Boulder Weekly on January 18, 2007.
Yet again the state of Colorado has outlawed free association. This time, the Division of Civil Rights for the Department of Regulatory Agencies ruled that a bar that hosted "ladies night" illegally discriminated against an alleged man, Steve Horner.
Obviously Horner is not a real man, because no real man would use the guns of the state to shut down Ladies Night. And obviously the Division of Civil Rights is not really concerned about civil rights, because in this case the bureaucracy violated rights of property and association. How much did this sick joke of a ruling cost taxpayers?
Katie Kerwin McCrimmon described the case for a Jan. 6 article for the Rocky Mountain News. She writes that Horner, a "self-proclaimed 'agitator' against feminism," won "the first stage of a civil rights complaint against the Proof Nightclub in southeast Denver." He complained "that men were unfairly having to pay cover charges and higher drink prices than women at the Proof's ladies nights."
Horner gloated to McCrimmon: "Ladies night is now illegal... This is now a violation of law. I will now make it a point to visit as many ladies nights as I can every week. I'll have my rights violated, then I'll sue them in county court and collect my $500 [the maximum penalty in county court for each incident of discrimination]... I feel it could net me $3,000 to $4,000 a week easy, and I'm going to do it... It takes me five minutes to be discriminated against."
If Horner thinks this is an example of agitating against feminism, he's delusional. Ladies Night is an example of women rebelling against variants of feminism that encourage prudishness or downplay gender. Ladies Night is all about relishing the differences between men and women. It's about women looking and acting sexy, teasing drooling men.
Yes, ladies often get free entry and free or cheap drinks. Why do bars do this? Obviously, it's to bring in men, too. Bars make more money when they serve as "meat markets" rather than "sausage fests." And obviously plenty of women and men enjoy the setting. And it's their right to participate, as it is the right of the bar to set such a policy. The ones most harmed by Horner are men and the bars, not women.
Discrimination against women is immoral when they deserve equal treatment. For example, if a woman is willing and able to do the same job as a man, and is better qualified, it is wrong to overlook her just because of her gender. (We'll leave aside the question of whether this particular sort of immorality should be illegal.) But Ladies Night is not immoral discrimination -- it is reasonable discrimination. Even those who argue that Ladies Night is crass or debauched cannot reasonably denounce it as discriminatory.
I suspect that Horner, too, discriminates on the basis of gender. Or has he had sex with equal numbers of men and women? Most women discriminate against women and in favor of men when choosing romantic partners. Homosexuals discriminate against people of the opposite sex for romance. This is perfectly moral.
If Ladies Night is to be banned, what of the widespread practice of men buying women drinks? Will Horner insist that men buy him drinks, too? Anything less would be discriminatory, by his own standards.
If Horner is going to prevent others from practicing reasonable discrimination, then he should be forbidden from discriminating. For example, he should not be able to enter or avoid a bar on the basis of who else is there.
Nor should Horner be able to discriminate in favor of certain romantic partners. Instead, he should suffer the fate of the young man in Aristophanes's play, Assembly of Women. Though the youth wishes to accompany the beautiful girl, three hags drag him away, because all are by law equal in outcome. One hag tells the lad, "It's not I but the law that drags you" (using Robert Mayhew's translation). The youth laments, "I am heavy fated... an unlucky man who will be shut up with these beasts."
The difference is that the youth recognizes the injustice of the circumstances, while Horner richly deserves it. If Horner wishes to violate freedom of association based on ridiculous claims of discrimination, then he should forfeit his own freedom of association and ability to discriminate.
A Jan. 8 editorial by the Daily Camera points out that Boulder prohibited Ladies Night in 1984 -- a fitting year -- and "[l]ast June, the European Union banned ladies nights." The paper (known as the "Daily Comrade" to some) endorses this nonsense.
McCrimmon closes, "Karen Parker, one of the owners of the Proof, said the business 'might have to change the way we do things.'" Yeah, it might have to make concessions to prissy, embittered jerks like Horner who have nothing better to do with their time than whine to worthless but powerful bureaucrats about Ladies Night.