Saggy pants have been banned in the Louisiana town of Terrebonne Parish and linked to prison sex. The Parrish Council voted on the measure last Wednesday night, according to The Houma Courier.
The newspaper noted that under the ordinance, offenders wearing their pants below the waist would receive a fine for each offense, escalating in overall damages.
First offenses result in a $50 fine and bump up another $50 for second and third offenses. In addition to the $100 fine, third and subsequent offenses would also come with 16 hours of community service attached.
(The punishments don’t go quite as far as those mentioned in a recent Massachusetts PSA, but it’s still a hefty fee for saggy drawers.)
The actual text of the Terrebonne ordinance reads: “Appearing in public view while exposing one’s skin or undergarments below the waist is contrary to safety, health, peace and good order of the parish and the general welfare.”
The ordinance won support of more than just the Parish Council.
“There is nothing positive about people wearing saggy pants … This is not a black issue, this is not a white issue, this is a people issue,” said Jerome Boykin, president of the town’s chapter of the NAACP.
Boykin also linked the wearing of saggy pants to prison sex. “Young men who were in prison who wanted to have sex with other men would send a signal to another man with his pants below his waist,” he said.
Other townspeople spoke out against the ordinance, but it was not enough to convince chairwoman Beryl Amedee, who stood alone as the sole vote against the ordinance.
Amedee claimed that it violated the US Constitution’s provisions for freedom of expression. A letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana agreed.
“To ban a particular clothing style would violate a liberty interest guaranteed under the 14th Amendment,” the letter stated. “The government does not belong in the business of telling people what to wear. Nor does it have the right to use clothing as a pretext to engage in otherwise unlawful stops of innocent people.”
Saggy pants certainly have a long history of disapproval, especially among adults, and cases of criminalizing the behavior are common. A bit on the debate:
Furthermore, two Mississippi students were recently handcuffed for their fashion statement, and the Terrebonne neighbor of Lafourche enacted its own ban in 2007.
According to a recent report from Houma Today, the Lafourche law isn’t often enforced with just 45 tickets being issued in the five years since approval, and Lindel Toups, the councilman who introduced the ordinance, isn’t pleased.
“That’s a low number. I could get 45 in one hour if I wanted … It’s everywhere. You go out there with your grandkids and you see people with their pants hanging past their drawers, showing their butt,” Toups said.
Responding to the lax enforcement, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said, “We do not have a baggy-pants task force that spends its time looking for that particular violation.”
Do you agree with the baggy pants ban, or do town councils have too much time on their hands?
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]