Tennessee Considers Low-Pants Bill

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Maybe the economy has recovered faster than we all thought, because otherwise it seems odd that legislatures would still be spending time on low-pants legislation.

Tennessee is the most recent jurisdiction to devote energy to this vital issue.  House Bill 2099, referred to as the "Saggy Pants Bill," was approved by a subcommittee on Wednesday.  The bill would make it a misdemeanor to "knowingly wear pants below the waistline, in a public place, in a manner that exposes the person's underwear or bare buttocks."  As usual with these sorts of things, problems of interpretation arise almost immediately.  For example, the bill defines "underwear," but not "buttocks," nor does it address situations involving single or partial-buttock exposure – rare but still of concern.  I guess these issues will be left up to the courts.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Joe Towns (D-Memphis), referred to it as "the crack bill."  "I think any respectable citizen would be against crack," he chortled.  But Rep. Karen Camper (also D-Memphis) rose to speak against the bill, though she insisted she was not pro-crack.  "We may not agree with the fashion statement they're making — I don't like it," she said.  But she argued that parents, not the government, should be the first line of defense against unregulated gluteal display.

The bill's next stop will be before the House Judiciary Committee, and coincidentally – or not – it will be taken up there on April Fool's Day.