Ladies' Plight

Rosa Parks didn't surrender to discrimination and take a different bus. So why should Steve Horner go to a different bar?

Steve Horner leans in for a hug.

But I do not hug on a first interview. Not even if the subject of the interview has already left me a lengthy voice-mail warning that I, and this newspaper, "have been totally insensitive to the needs of this egalitarian society" -- not to mention breaking the law by aiding and abetting criminal actions -- and that, just as he might tackle a burglar whom he saw breaking the law, he might "tackle a bad girl, too."

So no, I do not hug Steve Horner. Instead, I buy him a beer.

It seems like the least I can do. After all, he's accused me of promulgating one of society's most heinous inequities: ladies' nights, at which women get special favors in the forms of no cover and free or reduced-price drinks. By his count, Westwordhas tacitly endorsed such horrors at least fourteen times in recent weeks, and if he wants to take me to court -- and he's done his homework, he's promised me that -- I can be fined $500 for each violation. Women may say they don't want special favors, but they are getting them, he insists.

And they are not hugging their benefactors in gratitude, either.

In fact, the women of Colorado have a problem with hugging, Horner tells me. "The majority are cold as fish and angry," he says. "When I go dancing, I'm trying to spark the laughter of some lady who'll cherish my wackiness. I haven't found her."

Shocking. I buy another beer, and Horner spills his story.

In the early '90s, he was a single father back in Apple Valley, Minnesota, raising two boys -- by then, one was thirteen and one was ten, and we really don't need to get into the horrors of what went on after their mother split, but feel free to use your imagination about how the whole social-services system treated Horner -- and "I needed to get out of the house," he remembers. So he went to the newly opened Mall of America with ten bucks in his pocket, and noticed a long line outside of an august establishment known as Gators. When he arrived at the front of the line, he discovered that it was ladies' night -- and while women were being allowed in free, he'd have to part with half of his cash to get in the door.

That didn't seem fair, and he said so. Failing to get satisfaction from the doorman, he complained to the Minnesota Department of Civil Rights. He complained to that office for two years, until it determined that Horner had "probable cause" for his complaint. He asked the office to issue a press release, but it declined -- even though it had issued more than 200 the year before, 198 of them involving cases where a woman's rights had been violated. Horner contacted the press, but the media ignored this outrage. Finally, the state restaurant association ran a story in its newsletter, and the issue "ignited like a prairie fire on a hot afternoon," he remembers. "The more vengeful people got, the deeper I dug my heels in. It made me stronger. It led to the writing of my first book."

He's written several more books since then -- a couple on single parenting (find details at www.stevehornerbooks.com), a treatise whose title is C.U.N.T., which stands for "Can't Understand Normal Thinking," and "a pretty ballsy" novel that traces feminism's parallels to Marxism. Because, as Horner states very carefully, "Feminism is Marxism which creates terrorism through its inherent double standards, creating anger, confusion, resentment, feelings of betrayal, and ultimately, revenge and violence." We see that in families, we see it in business, we see it in the Middle East, he says. Feminism is responsible for Columbine. For illegal immigration.

And for Steve Horner.

In the late '90s, Horner, who's long worked in one aspect or another of radio, moved to Phoenix for a Sunday talk gig. When that didn't quite work out, he moved on through California up to Bend, Oregon, for another job that went sideways. From there he moved to Boise, where he worked in radio sales until he lost his job after being spotted at a pro-life rally -- feminism being responsible for abortion, too. "People are so enamored with money, they'll choose to walk the green path rather than the right path," Horner says. He moved on to San Antonio and then, last July, he came to Denver.

He didn't know then that Colorado women were cold, that "they'd rather sleep with their dog than a man." He just knew that he liked the mountains, and that Denver had some similarities to his home town of Minneapolis.

Those similarities now include Horner's campaign against ladies' nights.

It started August 3 at the Proof Nightclub. Horner, who also does work and life coaching, was going to meet a contact at that southeast Denver institution, and when he scouted the bar in advance, he discovered that it was ladies' night. So he stopped by another bar, had a couple of brewskis, started chatting with some big guys -- graduates of Columbine High School, the first place Horner visited after he moved into his Denver apartment. Turned out the big guys were bartenders at LoDo establishments that had ladies' nights, where the ladies never tipped. So when Horner asked the big guys if he should take on the Proof, the big guys said yes -- and a few hours later, there Horner was, telling the Proof's doorman that he was violating Horner's constitutional rights. Violating the rights of all men.

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