"It is strangely absurd to suppose that a million of human beings, collected together, are not under the same moral laws which bind each of them separately." ~ Thomas Jefferson
Ladies Night of the Living Dead
Ladies Night. It's the queen of bar and nightclub promotions, and it's popular nationwide. At the Coastline in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, for example, ladies get in without a cover charge -- and pay less for drinks -- one night a week. It's a good way to get girls to come and enjoy the establishment, and a good way to get guys to come and enjoy the girls.
But at least one man hasn't enjoyed this promotion at all. His name is David Gillespie, and he's mad he's been paying full price. Last week, the state's Division of Civil Rights agreed with his claim that Coastline discriminates against men. It thus banned Ladies Night statewide.
Now, it's hard to deny that Ladies Night is a discriminatory practice. That is, after all, the idea. But is it really a bane upon the progress of... well, mankind? Probably not.
I spoke with a few men and women to get a sense of what I was up against in writing this article. Both sexes noted how Ladies Night brings girls out in droves, and both had one word to describe Mr. Gillespie: "Gay." Not that there's anything wrong with it. But this goes deeper than his relative sexuality, or even his frugality. It's a symptom of the spirit that's sweeping our country -- the belief that, goddammit, everyone owes us something.
Bars can charge what they want to charge, with or without special offers. The same Miller Lite that costs $2.50 across the street will cost ten bucks in the Big Apple. And in many bars, big tippers get all sorts of discounts -- including free drinks -- at the bartender's discretion. Are these discriminatory practices, or examples of good business sense?
And how about when drunk folks are cut off from alcohol altogether? Is that discriminatory, too?
Lost in all this is the fact that human beings discriminate every day. You do it, and I do it. And it doesn't mean we're close-minded. It means we care about the situations we put ourselves into.
We choose our friends carefully, for example. For whatever reason -- be it the way they're dressed, the way they smell, the way they walk, or whatever -- we choose not to befriend a large majority of the people we meet. That's discrimination. Maybe they should sue?
We're also selective about our mechanics. A guy could be the reigning and defending Dad of the Year, but if he's greasy and grimy, and he twitches a lot, you might not trust him with your car. It would be your loss, but it would also be your right. Experience shows the best mechanics look dirty. Are you willing to take a chance? It's up to you.
Discrimination is inescapable. We discriminate all day long. If we don't like Chinese food, we don't eat Chinese food. If we don't like Italian, we don't eat Italian. There's nothing wrong with this.
And the same goes for nightlife. Some people prefer Irish pubs. Others go to gay bars. Some folks wouldn't enter either place no matter the discount. God forbid they should have an opinion!
But Mr. Gillespie doesn't seem to get this. Ladies Night irks him, and it's his right not to like it, but it's also his right to get up and go somewhere else. He doesn't have to hang out at Coastline. There are plenty of bars in the Cherry Hill area. But instead, he sticks around and whines about fairness, and recruits the Division of Civil Rights to set a silly precedent.
Here's an example: Here in the Garden State, there's a Six Flags theme park. About 15 years ago, the ride to ride was a rollercoaster called the Great American Scream Machine. Everyone was riding it that summer, and I wanted to ride it, too. A sign at the start of the line said passengers should be "this tall" to get on. I was a little kid. I wasn't tall enough, and I knew it, but I stood on my toes and convinced myself that I was. I got on line with my friends, and I waited for three full hours. When I got to the platform, the workers took one look at me and told me to scram.
Now, I'm man enough to admit this little boy walked away crying like a little girl that day. But what if I'd cried "height discrimination" instead? In this day and age, it could've worked. I could've gotten on the ride. And I could've fallen out of my seat while going through one of the Scream Machine's many loops and corkscrews.
I could've cracked my skull open in the interests of equal treatment. Lucky me.
We're awfully concerned with discrimination in this country. That's fine when it means we take the feelings of others into account. The world is a better place when people are nice to each other. But let's be realistic. If an HR director decides not to hire you because of your color, your hair, or what have you, you shouldn't want to work with that HR director, much less the company that hired him. And likewise, if you don't like the way a store treats you, you shouldn't want to shop there. And the fact is, you don't have to.
These are the things we concern ourselves with when we concern ourselves with discrimination. These are the things we sue over. Yet the authority to which we appeal is the greatest discriminator of all: The Government.
It's true. Someone, somewhere, is always asking the government for something. And if, or when, their wishes are granted, it always comes at someone else's expense.
Years ago, black kids were deprived due to segregation in publicly funded schools. Now, white kids are deprived due to affirmative action in -- you guessed it -- publicly funded schools. On and on it goes. And that's just one example of many. We can rationalize it, of course, but we can also rationalize discrimination against the Coastline's owners in favor of Mr. Gillespie. That doesn't make it right. And it doesn't change the fact that some people see discrimination as the government's most crucial role.
But there's a reason why governments shouldn't be allowed to discriminate. Governments kill people. And they use various forms of discrimination -- ethnic, economic, etc. -- to justify what they do. Hitler had his Holocaust, Stalin his gulags, Pol Pot his killing fields. All were government programs. All were rooted in sick, twisted visions of perfect societies.
Against this record, Ladies Night looks tame. And make no mistake: It is. But even if we say it's wrong on principle, the fact remains that the Coastline is a private business, and Mr. Gillespie is a free individual. He doesn't have to go there, and they don't have to serve him.
Though to tell you the truth, if I were him, I wouldn't try getting served there any time soon.