Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Ladies' night all right in this new book: Steve Horner, start reading!

Steve Horner, the anti-ladies night crusader, gave Denver bars fits a few years ago, then took his campaign back on the road -- most recently to Las Vegas.

The slew of complaints he's filed in Sin City against resort/casinos over special deals for bikini-clad babes are about to be featured in a Vegas sweeps week TV report. But first, a new book reveals this shocker: Steve Horner is wrong!

Slate just published an excerpt of Richard Ford's new book, Rights Gone Wrong: How Law Corrupts the Struggle for Equality, that describes "How the civil rights movement led to a ban on ladies' nights."

A well-researched look at both legal and social history, this chapter of Ford's book should be required reading, especially for Horner, who rates a mention:

In 2006 Stephen Horner sued a Denver nightclub over its ladies' night policy. Horner explained his opposition to the unfair advantages women enjoy in American society: "Women are growing up these days feeling they're entitled to favors. I believe this entitlement mentality is counterproductive to the social goals of a[n] egalitarian society." He then added, apparently without irony: "I'm going to ask for every dollar I'm owed to the letter of the law, which is $500."

Here's how Ford wraps up this chapter:

Today most people agree that sexist rules and customs that keep women down and perpetuate stereotypes of female frailty, passivity, and incompetence should be prohibited in the workplace and expunged from the public sphere. But only a handful of extremists would extend laws against sex discrimination to forbid chivalry or ban a time-honored tradition like Mother's Day or an innocent custom like ladies' night.

Of course, read literally, without the mediating influence of good judgment or common sense, the laws that prohibit truly demeaning and invidious sex discrimination apply to ladies' night promotions and the use of female sex as an expedient proxy for mothers in a Mother's Day giveaway. Rights go wrong when propelled beyond the boundaries of good sense by abstract thinking. Justice Bird's admonishment notwithstanding, legal prohibition must depend on judgments about which practices are important or harmful. Not every distinction -- even if based on race or sex -- is invidious.

Especially in Vegas.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Harold Camping to end end-of-the-world predictions?"

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun