Bad fashion taste isn't Council issue

Sunday, September 14, 2008

OK, let's talk about saggy pants. As you have read and heard, the Sikeston City Council is having discussions on the subject of low-riding britches that expose underwear. The Council and probably the majority of residents think it's time to put an end to the public display of underwear.

As I understand it - and correct me if I am wrong - saggy pants originated in prisons where unruly inmates had their belts removed. Thus the drawers sagged and the crotch of the pants hit around the knees.

So young men - primarily within the minority community - adopted this new style of wear. And some folk are uneasy with seeing more than should be shown so a handful of communities across the country have begun banning the saggy pants.

First, I'm uncertain if there are legal grounds to impose such a ban. And more importantly, it would become an enforcement nightmare to police the policy. And I think the Council has made their point and should go on to other matters.

I also think sagging britches are dumb. Surely it cannot be comfortable to have to hold up your pants constantly. But not all fashion statements are comfortable. I think the very same way about baseball caps being worn sideways. But if that's how you want to dress, it's not my role to monitor your fashion stupidity.

The issue of saggy pants is a clash of cultures. It's not a youth vs. old issue. It's all about culture. Look back through history and you'll find countless examples where the larger society felt a small minority were dressing improperly. Well, somehow we survived the fashion mistakes of the '60s and beyond. And we'll survive saggy pants as well.

A community in New Jersey announced Friday they want to ban hooded sweatshirts. These "hoodies" comprise a major part of the youth wardrobe. The community says the "hoodies" hide the identity of the wearer. And thus they use the issue of safety in their argument. It won't fly. But it has generated some discussion.

As a society, we have some leeway to exert change for the greater public good. I don't want to see a group of young men walking along with their fannies hanging out. But in the great scheme of things, there are lots of things with which I disagree. The issue of pants just simply does not rise to the level where I think government should make dictates.

I've seen young women with thong underwear exposed above their jeans. Why have we not considered legislation to counter this fashion trend? If I have to give you the answer then you need help.

The issue of saggy pants is not a black/white issue but it's real close. There were 11 arrests in a Florida community this week for saggy pants. All charged were minorities. Granted, that's not universal but it's an issue nonetheless.

My advice is simple. If someone wants to wear some fashion statement that I personally feel is stupid, that's their stupid choice. They may find equal objection with something I wear. That is their choice. Where we run into trouble is when we impose our standards on others unless there is a compelling public issue. On this issue, nothing compels me to support a ban.

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