Monday, August 27, 2007

Evidently, These Guys Didn't Learn from Dallas

On this, the first day of school (i.e. the day I have to start wearing long pants and real shoes again), it's only appropriate that my post is one that tweaks somebody for trying to impose a dress code where it probably doesn't belong.

At this time last year (one year ago yesterday, to be precise), I blogged a story about a Dallas school board member who tried to get the City Council to ban saggy pants. That's right--not just in school, but in the city at large. Efforts like this (as well as a more recent effort by a small-town mayor in Louisiana) never seem to actually be made into law--and they tend to get splattered all over the Internet, making a laughingstock out of its originator in the process--but that never stops people from trying the same thing somewhere else.

This time, it's happening in Atlanta, and the City Council is behind the effort. It's pretty much the same old song and dance:
Baggy pants that show boxer shorts or thongs would be illegal under a proposed amendment to Atlanta's indecency laws.

The amendment, sponsored by city councilman C.T. Martin, states that sagging pants are an "epidemic" that is becoming a "major concern" around the country.

"Little children see it and want to adopt it, thinking it's the in thing," Martin said Wednesday. "I don't want young people thinking that half-dressing is the way to go. I want them to think about their future."

The proposed ordinance would also bar women from showing the strap of a thong beneath their pants. They would also be prohibited from wearing jogging bras in public or show a bra strap, said Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.

The proposed ordinance states that "the indecent exposure of his or her undergarments" would be unlawful in a public place. It would go in the same portion of the city code that outlaws sex in public and the exposure or fondling of genitals.
The penalty would be a fine in an amount to be determined, Martin said.
I only have two points in response to this. First, as the ACLU's Seagraves points out later in the story, such a dress code would be unlikely to survive a court challenge, because it targets a style that comes from black youth culture. (Whether I agree with this logic or not is immaterial, but that's probably how it would go in court.)

Also, let me repeat something I said in the earlier post:
Is this style of dress annoying? Sure. But do we really need to get the police involved in enforcing it? Surely not. The time when the council should be devoting the city's resources to something like this would be when crime levels are nonexistent, when all the potholes are fixed, there's not a homeless problem downtown, the police and firefighters are paid the same as their suburban other words, not anytime soon.
I may not know firsthand whether Atlanta has all of the above issues, but you get my point: This is a waste of city time and resources to be talking about this when so many truly serious problems are out there.

More dress code cluelessness: In an effort to tweak administrators who had instituted a new "business casual" polo-and-khakis dress code at a Florida high school, one student, Austin Perkins, decided to go "above and beyond" the code by wearing a coat and tie to class. The principal suspended him. (Check out the comments at that post--especially the ones by a commenter named "PrisonPlanet" from yesterday at 11:40 and 11:41 a.m. They offer some historic reinforcement of what I've been saying all along--dress codes in schools have very little to do with safety and a lot to do with control. Hat tip--Dave Barry's Blog, where there are also some good comments, including an appearance by yours truly.)

Better saggy pants than none at all: Last Thursday, for no apparent reason, a guy decided to get naked in the Dallas County Courthouse.

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