Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Ladies' night opponent Steve Horner gets slapped down: Drink up, women!

Steve Horner, go back to your corner.

This week, Westword received a packet that contained copies of a dozen letters sent to Horner, the anti-ladies' night crusader, from Steven Chavez, director of the Colorado Division of Civil Rights, all dated March 11 and all starting this way: "This letter is to inform you that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission has reviewed your appeal. The Commission has determined that there is insufficient basis to warrant further action and has affirmed the director's decision of No Probable Cause."

No probable cause to believe that Westword had discriminated against Horner by publishing advertisements that included references to ladies' nights. No probable cause to believe that I had discriminated against Horner by writing about his campaign against ladies' nights.

Yes, on its face, it does seem unfair for a woman to be able to get a drink for free when a man cannot -- although in a world filled with injustices, this slight hardly rises to the level where it should occupy hours of a strapped state agency's time, or take up a courtroom, or suck up thousands of dollars in legal fees. Particularly when you realize that the businesses that offer such ladies' night deals do so only because more women in bars will mean that more men will come to the bars.

Horner's complaints against Westword, though, were a step or more removed from the basic issue of a free drink. We weren't a place of "public accommodation" pouring the drinks; we were just publishing the advertisements -- and that did not violate state law.

As for writing about Horner? He'd invited that himself. (You can read his initial letter to Westword here.)

This may not be the last we hear from Steve Horner; he has ninety days to file an action in district court if he wants to pursue his claim.

But still, tonight I'll be raising a glass in celebration. I plan to pay for it.

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