Atlanta Joins Those Bravely Fighting Low-Pants Epidemic

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The Associated Press reports today that a proposed amendment to Atlanta’s indecency ordinances would target baggy, low-riding pants that allow portions of the wearer’s underwear to be seen.  The ordinance would make "the indecent exposure of [one’s] undergarments" in a public place unlawful.

As I have stated before, I oppose what many of these people are wearing but would defend to the death their right to wear it.  (Well, not to the death, maybe, but I would be willing to suffer a slight wound.  Meaning something like a paper cut.  One of those really painful ones, though, because this is important to me.)

The sponsor of the amendment, city councilman C.T. Martin, said the law was a response to a saggy-pants "epidemic" that was becoming a "major concern" around the country, which will come as news to those of you who live in that country.  "I don’t want young people thinking that half-dressing is the way to go," he said.  "I want them to think about their future."

But the ACLU responded to defend the rights of half-dressers.  The Georgia ACLU director, Debbie Seagraves, noted that the ordinance would not only raise pant levels but would also make it illegal for a woman’s bra strap to show or even for them to wear jogging bras in public.  She went further by arguing that because extremely baggy pants are most common among young African-Americans, the law could not be enforced in a nondiscriminatory way.

Martin — who is African-American — said he understood there would be comparisons to the battle over "the value of the hip-hop culture."  He noted that the penalty would be fines (in an amount to be determined) rather than jail time, and suggested that the proposal was only a starting point.  "The purpose of the [amendment]," he said, "is to generate some conversation to see if we can find a solution."  It’ll generate conversation, at least.

This is not the first attempt to legislate people’s pants up.  A prior attempt in Louisiana (mocked here and, more importantly, on the Daily Show) failed a couple of years ago, although at least one city in that state has since passed a local ordinance of this kind.  Not to minimize the serious nature of our national half-dressing epidemic, but more extensive legislation in this area seems unlikely.

Link: CBS News