Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Saggy pants under assault"

Posted By on 08.23.11 at 02:48 PM

victoriapeckham.jpg
  • victoriapeckham
The Tribune reports today on suburban Lynwood’s ban on sagging pants, a trend described by Mayor Eugene Williams as “not right.”

“It’s ugly and stupid,” Williams told the Trib. “I wouldn't walk around my own house with my pants hanging down—why do I have to accept that out in public?”

“Ugly and stupid” seems like a pretty weak rationale for a municipal ordinance—as far as I know nobody's tried to ban these guys, for instance, though they meet those criteria for sure. And the public-private dichotomy doesn't necessarily hold up—there are plenty of things you wouldn't wear outside your home that you'd wear inside. But as the Trib reports, saggy pants have been worrying the nation for years. Here’s a roundup of a few cross-country concerns behind the prohibitions, though none really address the racial cringe factor that the bans provide:

Trenton, New Jersey:

"Are they employed? Do they have a high school diploma? It's a wonderful way to redirect at that point," said Trenton Councilwoman Annette Lartigue, who is drafting a law to outlaw saggy pants. "The message is clear: We don't want to see your backside."

Collinsville, IL:

"I've had several phone calls and emails and 75 percent of the people were for it," Tognarelli said, calling the fashion fad "gang-related."

Houston, Texas, where sagging pants were banned at Greenspoint Mall:

"The rationale is they have a lot of people coming into the mall and they have to cater to a lot of concerns, and most people are uncomfortable around people whose pants are halfway down," said Androphy.

Finally, zany Evanston, Illinois (WBBM via HuffPo):

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste proposed the ordinance in response to a trend among some youth wearing their pants too low.

Jean-Baptiste also expressed concerns about the long-term health effects of saggy pants on wearers as they walk and try to keep their pants hitched up.

In the Lynwood story, Trib reporters Steve Schmadeke and Dennis Sullivan also provide a list of similar official and unofficial bans that've been enacted, or proposed, around the country:

Chicago suburbs from Evanston to Midlothian have considered such bans. And towns in states across the country continue to pass them, including — this month — the small Georgia town of Jonesboro, which bills itself as "The Official Home of 'Gone With the Wind'" and was reportedly concerned about what sagging pants may do to its tourism industry.

Lawmakers in Virginia and Louisiana considered statewide bans.

In May, the public bus system in Fort Worth, Texas, said its drivers would start turning away passengers who refused to pull up their pants. A spokeswoman said the policy change has been welcomed by "our non-saggy-pants riders."

Florida recently enacted a "Pull Up Your Pants" bill, requiring school districts in the Sunshine State to discipline students who wear "clothing that exposes underwear." Pastors have reportedly marched the streets of Winston-Salem, N.C., urging residents to "pull them up," and a South Carolina man recently released a children's book titled "Oliver Vance Pull Up Your Pants!"

The issue even came up during Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. "I think passing a law about people wearing sagging pants is a waste of time," Obama told MTV. "Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants."

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