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‘Ladies night’ controversy asking the wrong question

So called “Ladies drink free” promotions are quite common. Customers as well as businesses have grown accustomed to such offers. Some claim, though, they are an infringement on equality, and states such as New Jersey have even passed laws to make such practices illegal. Yet, the whole controversy does not address the important point that such promotions are essentially an invitation to binge drinking.

New Jersey saw reason enough to pass a law on June 1 that made such promotions illegal, citing sexual discrimination as their basis. After passing the law, however, Gov. James E. McGreevey denounced it as “bureaucratic nonsense,” according to the Associated Press, and the law was revoked Friday.

Local owners of establishments agreed with the governor’s assessment. “The girls do all the buying,” Chris Mourtos, the owner of a NJ restaurant, told The Washington Times.

He argued what several students will find familiar: While some nights as much as 70 percent of the clientele is male, the females purchase most of the drinks. Therefore, he argues, nobody is put at a disadvantage as far as pricing is concerned.

This may all be true, but establishments that charge a cover and give out free drinks to females or hand out free drinks up to a certain time of the night, invite females to drink more and faster in order for them to feel they got their money’s worth.

The argument that the practice is sexist is therefore moot. A better question to ask would be if promotions designed to attract college students and drink an addictive substance — alcohol — more than they probably would if it was priced regularly are a good thing to begin with.