American Cities Say No to Crack

More saggy pants bills are sweeping the country. As noted here previously, one town in Louisiana now imposes a $500 fine and up to six months in jail if police can see boxers peeking above the trousers.

A city official in New Jersey thinks low-slung drawers merit a personality audit:

And in Trenton, getting caught with your pants down may soon result in not only a fine, but a city worker assessing where your life is headed.

"Are they employed? Do they have a high school diploma? It's a wonderful way to redirect at that point," said Trenton Councilwoman Annette Lartigue, who is drafting a law to outlaw saggy pants. "The message is clear: We don't want to see your backside."

I could almost stomach these laws if the saggy pants trend was resulting in massive public ass exposure. Indecent exposure is at least an arguably legitimate offense. But saggy pants are generally worn over boxers. Which means these laws are really just reflections of lawmakers' disdain for the types of people who droop their drawers. Which I doubt would pass constitutional muster. You can't just start banning clothing because you don't like the message it sends.

And as the hip-hop shop owner points out in the article, what about the plumbers?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • The Artist Formerly Known as T||

    "And in Trenton, getting caught with your pants down may soon result in not only a fine, but a city worker assessing where your life is headed.

    "Are they employed? Do they have a high school diploma? It's a wonderful way to redirect at that point," said Trenton Councilwoman Annette Lartigue...""

    May I see your papers Comrade.

  • thoreau||

    This law should be selectively enforced based on Body Mass Index.

    Yes, I realize that BMI isn't necessarily a great medical prognosticator, but it will serve as a good enough rule of thumb for the purposes here.

  • K.||

    How ridiculous. I wonder how much that legislative process and the enforcement of it will cost taxpayers.

  • Episiarch||

    And in Trenton, getting caught with your pants down may soon result in not only a fine, but a city worker assessing where your life is headed.

    This is pretty fucked up right here. Maybe some re-education camps will be needed?

  • ||

    I've got to move to one of these jurisdictions that have all the tough problems solved, thus having time to worry about this.

  • Senator Craig||

    May I see your papers Comrade.


    I dropped them on the floor, I tell ya!

  • ||

    Another problem with these types of bans is that the whole point of wearing your pants like that is as a sign of rebellion. Outlaw sagging pants, and it just means that kids will come up with some other form of dress that annoys adults, so nothing is accomplished except for affirming to young people that society is worth rebelling against in the first place.

    That having been said, Trenton is free to govern their town in such a manner if they like.

  • ||

    We are becoming a nation of idiots.

    That the idiots proposing these laws do not see their acts as obvious points of ridicule says bad things about the general state of public accountability for office holders.

    I wonder if there will ever be day again when 'I just don't like it" is seen as a stupid and UN-AMERICAN justification for a law.

  • The Artist Formerly Know as Tr||

    ""This law should be selectively enforced based on Body Mass Index""

    This will be a new program under "HillaryCare" If police determine upon visual inspection your BMI is not within limits, it would be a great time for : a city worker assessing where your life is headed.

    Because we all know that "city workers" have really got their shit together. Right ?

  • Billy Awesome||

    I suffer from Old Man Pants syndrome and always pull my pants halfway up my torso (It's actually quite comfortable... Urkel was a genius after all). But I also pull up my underwear awful high and, like, sometimes the underwear peaks out overtop of the pants. Now yes, the shirt is usually untucked and covers the whole mess. But what if there's a problem? What if I'm wearing a button shirt and a few buttons get pulled off? What if a shirt rips? What am I to do? Do the laws still apply if you can see boxers above your pants but your boxers are only 4 inches below your nipples while your pants are 6 inches below?

    Oh well.... I guess that's what lawyers are for!!

  • ||

    There was a great article in the Wall Street Journal a few months ago about how this style has been a boon to cops. Normally, you fat, doughnut eating middle aged cop has no chance on foot of catching some lean 18 year old running for his freedom. Ah, but when dumb ass 18 year old is wearing baggy pants to up street creed, he doesn't run so well and even the fatest and slowest cops nail him every time. The article was hysterical. You would think if you were hitting the streets to sell drugs or pull a liquer store hold up you would pull your pants up, but alas not these guys.

  • SPD||

    I'd propose a similar ban on polo shirts with popped collars, "mandals" and golf pants in more than one color.

    Take that, Squaresville!

  • Guy Montag||

    I like to call the "saggers" String Bean fans. Sadly, there are not enough Hee Haw fans amoung them to escape an explaination.

  • SPD||

    Also, jorts.

  • ||

    "That having been said, Trenton is free to govern their town in such a manner if they like."

    No, they are not. While perhaps entirely aware of it, the elected officials of Trenton are still subject to the limitations on governmental power imposed by the Constitution. Someone will weary baggy pants, get arrested and this ordinance will go up in flames... after the taxpayers have paid a pretty penny for attorneys to argue a losing cause. This is the type of law passed to satisfy some small but vocal group of citizens.

  • SPD||

    Jose,

    The Ninth Amendment may allow for rights not mentioned specifically by the Constitution, but wouldn't that conflict with the Tenth Amendment's allowance of remaining powers to the states or its people?

  • ||

    Think of the plumbers! Won't someone puh-leez think of the plumbers!

  • Pat Robertson||

    "That having been said, Trenton is free to govern their town in such a manner if they like."

    Thanks Dan T!!! I now have the rationalization needed to ban those queers from kissing in my town!

    Love, Pat

  • SPD||

    Pat,

    Aren't you dead?

    Oh, sorry, that's Jerry Falwell. Well, don't let us keep you from following him.

  • ||

    That having been said, Trenton is free to govern their town in such a manner if they like.

    We agree. Dan T. We wish you would have been with us on segregation now, segregation forever. The people of the south should be able to govern as they like.

  • ||

    Just what we need. Fashion police handing out tickets.

  • Pat Robertson||

    SPD.....don't make me send a hurricane your way.

  • SPD||

  • ||

    "Just what we need. Fashion police handing out tickets."

    Exactly. Where does this all lead? Making hippies bathe? Objectivists get rid of their pocket protectors? Cities can't stop bad fashion.

  • Ska||

    Maybe New Jersey should come up with some sort of Pinky Ring legislation. With the saggy pants and the pinky rings in prison, New Jersey will be virtually crime free!

  • gbuckles||

    Say one were to expose a pair of boxers with said ordinance written out on the backside. Would that constitute political speech?

  • robc||

    Lester Maddox,

    You may be a racist scumbag, but I defend your right to serve or not serve whoever you want in your restaurant.

  • ||

    No, they are not. While perhaps entirely aware of it, the elected officials of Trenton are still subject to the limitations on governmental power imposed by the Constitution. Someone will weary baggy pants, get arrested and this ordinance will go up in flames... after the taxpayers have paid a pretty penny for attorneys to argue a losing cause. This is the type of law passed to satisfy some small but vocal group of citizens.

    Yes, you are correct that local governments cannot pass laws that violate the Constitution. But it's not clear to me that you have a constitutional right to dress literally any way you want to - otherwise why wouldn't every indecent exposure law on the books have been overturned by now?

    I'm not a lawyer so perhaps someone who is could help me out on this one.

  • SPD||

    Dan T.,

    I'm thinking this probably falls under local standards established by a community in regard to obscenity, noise/air pollution, abortion, etc. The Ninth Amendment should protect saggy-pants wearers, but if the majority of their community decides it doesn't want its elderly and children exposed to ass cracks, they might take their chances in court.

  • ||

    Is it against the rules to go out in a man-thong in these cities? Because you show your underwear when you do that... also, how about walking around in boxers/boxer-briefs? No good?

  • ||

    Is it against the rules to go out in a man-thong in these cities? Because you show your underwear when you do that... also, how about walking around in boxers/boxer-briefs? No good?

    No. But it should be permissable to use a baseball bat on anyone who does so with a waist circumfrence greater than their chest or hip circumfrence. Or at least barf bags should be made available to all who have such sights inflicted on them.

  • ||

    We don't need a law. All we need is a squad of hot sexy babes who go around and laugh mercilessly at anyone with droopy drawers.

  • ||

    There are few areas of the law more slippery than that related to "indecency." I guess if you want to invoke Cohen v. California, just make sure you wear boxers with "Fuck the Draft" exposed.

    The issue here is not the Ninth Amendment, but the First. One does have the right to dress as one wishes. If the State wishes to curtail this right, it must show a compelling public interest that outweighs this individual right. Even a casual reading on the case law of student dress codes should inform one as the difficulty of creating legal standards for members of the general public (as oppposed to cloistered public school students).

    This is no different than an ordinance in the 1950s to fine people wearing black leather jackets and white t-shirts... or an ordinance in the 70s outlawing hip-huggers and halter tops.

  • ||

    If only these brave legislators had been around in 1962 they could have nipped the hippie fad in the bud.

  • ||

    Caption Contest!

    "PFFFFFFFT"

    Better hurry, dude.

  • ||

    "No. But it should be permissable to use a baseball bat on anyone who does so with a waist circumfrence greater than their chest or hip circumfrence."

    Not much on the "live and let live" concept, are we?

  • dhex||

    I guess if you want to invoke Cohen v. California, just make sure you wear boxers with "Fuck the Draft" exposed.

    this is an intriguing idea, actually. just make sure the waistband has some kind of explicitly political message on it and see where that road takes us.

  • ||

    someone needs to make a pair of "bong hits 4 jesus" boxers.

    Judicial branch esplodin!

  • ||

    Not much on the "live and let live" concept, are we?

    Just trying to keep my lunch down, that's all.

  • ||

    What a coincidence. I have the same problem with your writing.

  • ||

    Don't press me with your mighty legs!

    Liked the link. Kinda like this one.

  • ||

    "The issue here is not the Ninth Amendment, but the First."

    I suspect that it is not your first or ninth ammendment rights they wish to violate, but your fourth. Just another reason to search an individual without probable cause.

  • ||

    Why not a ban on Blue Colored haired seniors driving their V8 Buicks with only the top of their forehead showing, swerving across the road with the left blinker turned on.

    You can't outlaw "bad taste" or "stupidity".

  • ||

    You can't outlaw "bad taste" or "stupidity".

    Nor can you outlaw local governments passing stupid laws.

  • ||

    Hiro Moonbat is conflicted!! While Hiro Moonbat believes in freedom, Hiro Moonbat thinks all these whippersnappers should be lowered into a pit full of ill-tempered chihuahuas while the Moonbat reads appropriate selections from Bastiat's The Law through a megaphone!!!!!

  • ||

    Local juridiscations have been passing these types of loony laws since the dawn of the Republic. In a few short years they will become nothing more than a historical curiousity.

  • Nick M.||

    So, what if I wear tighty whiteys or boxer briefs under my boxer shorts? Then technically, my boxer shorts aren't my underwear. They are an intermediate layer.

  • Jennifer Emick||

    Just make pants that look like they have boxers peeking oput...problem solved. The city council will just knaw their ties in frustration.

  • bill||

    What if you wear just boxers?

  • USCitizen||

  • ||

    So basically they want to pass a law that allows cops to stop and harass young black men whenever they feel like it?

  • ||

    they can have my baggy, droopy pants when they pry it out of my cold, dead ass... hmmmm....
    I guess droopy pants arn't actually wedged up my ass... needs some work - I'll get back (ha ha, pun intended) to you.

  • ||

    Atlanta City Council is considering the same ordinance IN CLOSED DOOR SESSIONS, by the way.

    Repeat comment: Why not just require all women to wear burquas and all men to wear caftans?

    CB

  • ||

    I don't have any problem at all with the active encouragement of public opinion against this crass celebration of personal sloppiness. It's not any kind of high-minded fashion statement. All it is is giving the finger to society.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement