Steve Horner sues to stop ladies' night

Horner's been on a quest to criminalize ladies' night for 20 years

Horner finally took the bait. The next day he brought a tape recorder to Hooters in Mall of America and asked for details on the ladies' night special. After the hostess explained that he indeed would not be eligible for ladies' night drink specials, Horner tried to file another discrimination complaint.

This time the Human Rights Department didn't give him the response he wanted.

Instead of dropping the issue, Horner called Dolores Fridge, then the human rights deputy commissioner, every day in an effort to get her attention. After 13 weeks of calls, he succeeded.

Horner was charged with four counts of harassment and had to pay a $100 fine, according to court records, which pretty much canceled out the money he'd won from his previous complaint. He also had to serve a month in the Hennepin County Workhouse—a point he now claims will add to his legacy as a civil rights hero.

"It gives me some testicles," Horner explains. "I didn't bow out, didn't whimper, didn't cop out. I stood, took the medicine, and the medicine tasted awful. And it was for an illness that I wasn't inflicted with. I shouldn't have gone. I was a hero for standing up to the maliciousness of that court. I suppose it's like a lot of freedom fighters who chain themselves to street posts."

After serving his time, Horner brought his crusade to a national audience. He has filed more than 30 complaints against bars all over America, he says, and has won nearly $10,000 in settlements. He also began writing a book on the subject, titled Can't Understand Normal Thinking—or C.U.N.T.

Fighting ladies' night drink specials has become his life's work.

Horner filed five complaints against bars offering ladies' nights in Minneapolis earlier this year. In June, the Human Rights Department released a statement affirming his argument.

"It is the Department of Human Rights' position that ladies' night is illegal," Commissioner James Kirkpatrick said in a statement. "Gender-based pricing violates the Human Rights Act."

So does that mean that Horner has a legitimate point?

Yes, according to Velma Korbel, who was Minnesota's Human Rights Commissioner until earlier this year.

The ruling is a correct reading of the law, Korbel explains, though she notes that, in her decades of human rights work, it's a point no one else has ever cared to make.

"You could say that as soon as a person starts to go lax on even the smallest area of discrimination, it's just a slippery slope," offers Korbel. "But I'm a realist, and I've been doing this work a long time, and if ladies' night is the worst it ever got, we'd all be out of jobs."

Now that his Sally's petition has been rejected, Horner's only standing complaint is against the Blue Martini in Las Vegas. The general manager of the Blue Martini didn't return a request for comment. "I don't even know what we would say about that," groaned an employee who answered the phone at the bar.

In the meantime, Horner will continue his quest for the rights of the bald white man in hopes that, in the context of history, he will be remembered as a true American hero.

"I believe this is patriotic," Horner says of his quest. "I believe to see the rocks coming is pragmatic, you see. That's a man's position. The frickin' rocks are coming, take a left! The women might say, let's not turn too fast, because we've got babies sleeping." 

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