Saggy-pants laws: Red herring to control kids

Marc Lamont Hill, Daily News | June 8, 2011

EARLIER THIS WEEK, the Fort Worth Transportation Authority in Texas announced that it will “get tough” on enforcing a dress code that bans sagging pants from the city’s public transportation.

The Texas decision is nothing new. Over the past several years, cities around the country have made similar decisions regarding the hip-hop-inspired fashion trend. A year ago, New York state Sen. Eric Adams drew national headlines by unveiling the “Stop Sagging” campaign, a series of billboards and viral Web videos that decry the practice of wearing pants below the waist.

In Michigan, Louisiana, Texas and Florida, politicians have taken the anti-sagging movement even further by passing laws that outlaw the fashion trend through the creation of public-decency ordinances.

Do we really have nothing better to do?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a huge fan of sagging pants. The older I get, the more absurd and unattractive I find the practice. Still, the fact that legislators around the country can devote serious time, energy and political muscle to the sartorial predilections of teenagers means that we have seriously misplaced priorities.

Much of the outrage over sagging pants is rooted in the belief that the trend is an outgrowth of prison culture in which inmates are forced to sag their pants because they aren’t permitted to wear belts. Others argue it’s a sign of prison homosexuality, as gay inmates expose their buttocks to let others know that they are sexually available.  (Read more)