A Matter of Public Decency?

18 09 2007

Cities across the country are considering outlawing excessively sagging pants. I am not making this up. In fact, Lawmakers argue that its a matter of public decency. According to the Associated Press, in a small town in Louisiana authorities can fine people whose jeans exposed too much tush or undies up to $500 and six months in jail.

Such measures seem to be popping up in Atlanta, Georgia; Stanford, Connecticut, and Trenton, New Jersey. Proponents of the law say it will promote public decency and deter younger children from emulating those who prefer jeans who sag much too generously.

Of course, the measure is likely to disproportionately affect young males, particularly those of color in urban neighborhoods. And will most likely lead to racial profiling.

Few police officers are going to head to lilly white suburbs and chase down skateboarders to mete out hefty fines. It is also doubtful that many women will be affected by the “crackdown” in the same way, if at all.

These laws or ordinances should strike people as either discriminatory or requiring more scrutinity for the following reasons:

If it is so offensive to see someone’s buttocks, then why not ban men who jog or cycle shirtless?

If the goal, is to promote public decency, why not legislate how high a woman’s skirt should be too?

And isn’t the undeterred epidemic of plumbers crack a much greater crisis?

These are urgent questions that should be thoroughly debated and deserve urgent attention, or at least as much as consideration of the ban on sagging jeans did, before policemen are sent into the streets searching for violators of the regulations created by the new self-appointed fashionistas.

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