Laws against saggy pants are
over the top
November 7, 2008 | It's time to crack down on serious
issues like drugs, underage drinking and, of course,
sagging pants. In February 2008, lawmakers in Riviera
Beach, Fla., passed a law banning baggy pants. They
are just one of many cities across the southern United
States trying to prevent the horrific crime of young
men exposing their underwear in public.
Orlando Sen. Gary Siplin, who sponsored the bill,
claims the sagging pants trend was made popular by rap
artists after being used by prison inmates as a signal
they were looking for sex.
Fair enough, seeing as how fashion stemming from inmates
has often been the subject of law enforcement scrutiny
and for a good reason. However, trouble arises when
the gender card is thrown out there. If a man wearing
baggy pants sends the message "I'm looking for sex,"
what does a woman wearing a low-cut shirt or ultra short
skirt signify? If the government is going to start regulating
fashion trends for having crude underlying messages,
how can they possibly draw the line at baggy pants?
These questions arise as the decision about how far,
exactly, the government can go concerning cracking down
on clothing choices without completely ignoring the
rights of U.S. citizens.
In some cases, baggy pants are being outlawed simply
because the community does not like the look. According
to a news article by Lis Wiehl, three towns in Louisiana
have banned sagging pants because of "complaints from
'decent families and communities' that believe these
belt-less boys are disrespecting their elders, and furthermore,
that this behavior represents a lack of parental supervision."
If a presumed lack of parental supervision is cause
for the state to step in and play baby-sitter, then
I would also like them to patrol the obnoxious teenagers
who skate past me at the mall with their wheelie shoes,
and the little children in the grocery store who punch
bags of chips while their parent is nowhere to be found.
Patrolling who is and is not wearing a belt might
sound like a silly story, but it is one with underlying
connotations and various repercussions. For instance,
the maximum penalty in Riviera Beach for repeat "baggy
pant" offenders is 60 days in jail. In Louisiana, violators
can face up to six months in jail coupled with a $500
fine for sagging waistlines. This begs the question,
don't law enforcement officials have better things to
do with their time? Utah rebels better pray that officials
don't catch wind of this new rule, or else I know a
few middle-schoolers who will be continuing their education
in juvenile detention.
The solution for this problem is simple. Let people
wear what they want to wear, as long as it does not
violate reasonable laws concerning public decency. I
know I would much rather see a strip of fabric covering
a gap between someone's pants and shirt then the flash
of a sparkley thong or butt crack as I walk down the
street. So, if lawmakers are itching for some crack-coverage
maybe they should first target the overwhelming amount
of women who commit this fashion faux pas.
Finally, leave parenting up to parents. The city of
Riviera Beach claims that the recent law is aimed at
teenagers, but if that is the case, perhaps they should
leave it to school districts and parents to decide what
children are wearing. Schools have dress codes for a
reason, and until it becomes a serious problem, what
is wrong with simply handing out detentions for breaking
rules inside an educational area, rather than imposing
fines and sending offenders to jail.