LUCAS L. JOHNSON II • Associated Press Writer • The Tennessean, March 26, 2009
She’s no fan of saggy pants, but state Rep. Karen Camper says she questions the constitutionality of a colleague’s bill making the low-slung legwear a misdemeanor.
Camper, a Memphis Democrat, said Thursday she opposes the bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Towns, also of Memphis, that passed the House Criminal Practice and Procedure Subcommittee one day before. [full article]
While this bill will not pass this year, since it has no companion bill in the Senate, I am amazed that it passed a House Committee.
It only takes one legislature to introduce a bill, so when I first read of this I dismissed it as one legislator probably introducing a bill at the behest of a influential supporter. A lot of bills get introduced that never see the light of day. I figured this bill would die in committee and that would be in the end of it. But, this thing may have legs. It passed a committee. It will probably be back next year.
I am no fan of saggy pants. They look ridiculous. I have watched kids, usually early-teen black kids, have to constantly pull at their pants to keep them form falling off. I have seen the pants down around the widest part of the hips. They are offensive to my sense of taste, but I have never witnessed any obscene body parts as a result of this fashion. Most of the time the kid with the saggy pants down around their hips are wearing boxer shorts that are at the waist where they ought to be.
The reason for banning these clothing cannot be due to a concern with indecency. If you go to any outdoor event in the summer you will see young girls exposing a lot more skin than is exposed by baggy pants. Also, if the law bans showing underwear, some of the silky tops girls wear as outerwear looks like lingerie. I wouldn’t want to ban those. We do not need to be in the business of defining when underwear is underwear.
The only reason for banning saggy pants it that they are ugly and people find them offensive. There are a lot of things I find offensive, such as clothing featuring the peace sign or images of Che Guevara, but because I find this offensive they should not be illegal. I don’t even want to ban the swastika if some nut wants to wear it.
As far as fashion, I find it offensive that people would pay $300 for a pair of new jeans that are paint spattered, frayed and stained to look dirty and look like Goodwill rejects, but I don’t want to ban them. There is a certain look that I find more ugly and more offensive than saggy pants. The look I am speaking of features tattoos, black clothing, hair either spiked or dyed weird colors, and multiple piercing of lips, eyebrows, the tongue, and ears. That is a very ugly look, yet I don't want to pass a law against it.
We need to get over the idea that because something offends us it should be illegal. People in a free society need a large degree of toleration for being offended. I think a lot of what is behind the war on tobacco is not a health concern but a desire to ban a habit that others find offensive. Part of the reason we can’t get wine in the grocery stores is because a segment of the community would be offended by its presence.
I find this effort to ban saggy pants more offensive than the saggy pants. We don’t need to make the police the fashion police.