Simon Says: Pull Your Pants Up!

Pants on the ground
Pants on the ground
Lookin’ like a fool with yo pants on the ground
With yo gold in yo mouth
Hat turned sideways, pants hit the ground
Call yourself a cool cat, lookin like a fool
Walkin’ downtown with your pants on the ground
Get it up, hey, get your pants off the ground
Walkin’, talkin’ with your pants on the ground
Get it up, hey, get your pants on the ground
Lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground
Gold in your mouth
Hat turned sideways
Call yourself a cool cat, yeah, lookin’ like a fool
Walkin’, talkin’ with your pants on the ground
Boom, boom, pants on the ground
Lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground
With your gold in your mouth
Hat turned sideways, pants hit the ground
Call yourself a cool cat
—  General Larry Platt, American Idol auditions 2010






It is a sad, sad statement about our society that a city government actually has to resort to passing  a law REQUIRING people to pull their pants up in public:

The City Council is proceeding with an ordinance to ban saggy pants in Dunn.

The council Tuesday night unanimously directed City Attorney Tilghman Pope to create an ordinance for the council to consider. The decision came despite public criticism of the proposed ordinance and a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

If the ordinance is ready, it could be discussed at the council’s next scheduled meeting Sept. 11.

Tuesday’s vote came after a public hearing in which several residents spoke against any such ban. The city also received a letter from Sarah Preston, policy director for the state ACLU, expressing reservations that such an ordinance could be enforced. The letter suggested any such ban would be unconstitutional and too vague to be enforced.

The Dunn proposal isn’t the first time the state’s ACLU has voiced an opinion on matters of fashion and law. In 2010, the town of East Laurinburg in Scotland County attempted to pass a similar ordinance but was warned by the ACLU that such a law was “an unconstitutional abridgement of freedom of expression.”

The Dunn ordinance was proposed by Carnell Robinson, the mayor pro tem.

Robinson’s proposal would amend the city code to outlaw pants worn more than 3 inches below the waist. As of August, cities in three states – Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida – have laws against wearing saggy pants in schools. In addition, cities across the country have attempted to ban the fashion statement on the grounds of public indecency.

Robinson proposed an ordinance that focused on disorderly conduct rather than indecency. It’s a model that has thus far avoided legal challenge in other cities.

Robinson, the past director of the North Carolina Black Leadership Caucus, has repeatedly denied any criticism that the ordinance could be considered racist.

“There is no racist overtone in this ordinance,” he said in July. “It is not aimed at one particular community. It addresses a universal issue: the need to establish universal community standards.

“There is nothing positive in this style of dress. Nothing. Young people may call it fashion, but it only indicates that they are more concerned about image than they are about education, about preparing for life, about being productive members of society.”

Robinson could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

I dare ANYONE to come out and call this a slap at black people.  I know PLENTY of black people with enough sense to keep their pants up in public.  

I have mixed emotions about this ordinance.  The libertarian in me sees this as another aggregious example of the out-of-control nanny state:  No sugary drinks! Watch your calories! No smoking! Pull your pants up — or get fined.

Everyone is familiar with the term “plumber’s crack.”  Will Dunn be fining the overweight contractor bent over, working on fixing busted pipes? Is it actually a serious enough problem in the City of Dunn to require this kind of action?  Will cops be holding up tape measures against your waist during traffic stops?  

On the other hand, I do believe communities do have a right to set reasonable standards of public decency.  No one should have to look at your private parts or your gluteus maximus.  No one should have to see your Spider-Man underwear.

It sounds like the ACLU and Dunn will be getting quite cozy shortly. Hopefully, there is some middle ground here.