2017-12-18 10:48:25

Commentary: Laws won't make young men cover up their Cheap Sexy Lingerie

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Last August, school trustee Ron Price failed to get Dallas City Council to pass a law that would ban sagging pants in public.

A year later, Atlanta City Councilman C.T. Martin is trying to succeed where Mr. Price could not. Mr. Martin probably has noble intentions, but he needs to find something better to do with his time and taxpayers' money.

His proposed amendment last week to the city's indecency laws would make publicly exposed Cheap Sexy Lingerie a crime punishable by a fine. Exposed thong Cheap Sexy Lingerie, jogging bras and bra straps would be prohibited in public places, but the law really is aimed at halting the prominent display of men's Cheap Sexy Lingerie that accompanies deliberate sagging of pants.

I understand why Mr. Martin, a college recruitment consultant, and some of his constituents are tired of seeing young men's skivvies in public. You may be tired of it, too. I've been sick of it for years. Pants-sagging is juvenile, corny and -- the worst thing a fashion statement can be -- blatantly contrived.

When I consider the prison origins of pants-sagging (inmates aren't allowed to wear belts and limited sizes of pants are often too big), I want to say that only losers do it. But that would be untrue because I know too many intelligent and successful young men, several with advanced degrees, who sag their pants. For some of these guys, the sag may be less about identifying with the hip-hop culture in which they grew up than an act of rebellion against a society that often seems obsessed with controlling them.

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And that's what refutes assertions that a pants-sagging ban would not be tantamount to racial profiling. In Atlanta, Dallas, Virginia, Louisiana and other places where pants-sagging has risen to the level of public discourse, the fellows flaunting their boxers and briefs are overwhelmingly young and black. Laws are about exercising control and maintaining a perceived order. That's their purpose. In this case, the objects of control would be young black men in urban settings, the demographic that began and almost exclusively engages in pants-sagging as a style statement.

Of course, some young white guys also sag their pants in public. Like many cultural expressions that originate in minority communities, it's usually not long before the wider society adopts or co-opts it.

Case in point: I was headed to work one morning last week when I passed a young white man who was adjusting a baby in a stroller on a Downtown sidewalk. His sag revealed dirty tighty whities, a cardinal sin among the pants-sagging cohort.

Was it gross? Definitely. Did the fellow have a right to wear his clothes that way? Undoubtedly.

If municipal officials want to spend time introducing and debating unenforceable laws aimed at behavior that displeases some, why not ban other unpleasant public displays? Prohibit spitting and cursing. Better yet, do everybody a favor and ban the public use of tobacco products. What's more unpleasant and offensive than cancer-causing cigarette smoke?

If we're going to mine personal appearance and upkeep for sources of offense, why overlook bad breath, body odor and big bellies that pop buttons on wrinkled, food-stained shirts? One can argue that these situations have become 'epidemic,' a word in the proposed Atlanta ordinance that is used to describe Cheap Sexy Lingerie ie-revealing pants-sagging.

All of us have our personal preferences and peccadilloes. We're allowed. But it's poor stewardship of public office and taxpayer dollars to try to police a fashion statement. Unless you're a hermit, there are some unpleasant things that you just have to cope with as you encounter other human beings in a free society.

Mr. Martin and those of like mind can be content that they have put a spotlight on an issue that is important to some people. Although the ordinance is unlikely to pass and would probably never survive a court challenge, their point has been made and consciousness has been raised.

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