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