2018-02-22 / Viewpoint

The VIEW from here

Legislate saggy pants?

Nicholas Pugliese—Staff Writer Nicholas Pugliese—Staff Writer Right now, in 2018, there’s a bill being discussed, by actual elected lawmakers, in an actual house of government in the United States of America, to ban wearing pants below the hips.

That’s happening in South Carolina’s House of Representatives at this very moment. It’s cleverly named “House Bill 4957” if you want to look it up. The bill aims to outlaw the act of wearing one’s pants “three inches below the crest of his ileum,” or, in regular-person terms, below where the hip bones start. If skin or underwear has the audacity to be exposed to offended eyes, the wearer of the laissez-faire garment will face fines of $25 for the first offense. And if the man — and yes, this law will apparently only apply to males — decides he doesn’t want the government to make him buy a belt even after being slapped with a fine, he’ll incur the court’s wrath once again to the tune of $50 and community service for the second go-around, and $75 and more community service beyond that.

The law is cosponsored by two Democrats and one Republican, so it turns out that cooperation can indeed occur across the aisle, if the topic is saggy pants.

There’s a lot going on in the world right now, not least of which is the ongoing firearms debate. But lawmakers in South Carolina seem to have different priorities. This would-be statewide ordinance is on the heels of a similar decree made in the town of Timmonsville, South Carolina, a hamlet roughly the same size and population of Lapeer. For that one, which went into effect in

2016, the third offense costs the perpetrator hundreds of dollars.

According to those lawmakers, the matter of saggy pants is one of “respect.” The County Press and Lapeer Area View keep a watchful eye on matters of local government, but imagine for a moment waking up on a

Sunday morning and seeing in big bold letters on the County

Press a headline like those in Timmonsville surely read two summers ago. Something like this would never happen in Michigan, right?

Well, it did, 10 years ago, in Flint. According to a memo sent by Flint’s police chief at the time, saggy pants are “immoral” and “rises to the crime of indecent exposure/disorderly persons.” We aren’t talking about what the person may be doing, saying or how he might be behaving at the time. We’re talking about pants. I guess it’s true that the clothes make the man.

Often, the word “immoral” is code for “I don’t understand this and it offends me.” Regardless of the practicality of wearing saggy pants (seriously, what if there are bears? How are you going to run away with your pants so low?), there’s absolutely no reason why lawmakers should be wasting their time trying to regulate people’s waists when there’s more important work to be done. Unless, of course, they’re all in the pocket of Big Belt.

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