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Pull 'em up, in the name of the law!

G'day, friends.

Back in the saddle after a long, but waaaaay too short weekend. I had to work on a story about an elusive but fascinating musician. Here's a couple of hints. He is a talented violinist with savant-like skills. But he's homeless and battling a variety of problems from physical disabilities to addictions. He plays on street corners in a tough neighborhood, 'cause he has no other stage. In elementary school teachers predicted he'd be with some major symphony by the time he reached his 20s. I'm not quite done. But when the article's complete, trust me, it'll move you. Also, Mrs. B and I spent the weekend getting prepped for our new dog. I assume he's meeting with Rev. Jackson, right about now, because he has to have that below-the-belt snip snip before we can bring him home this evening. I'll have pics of him tomorrow, assuming all goes well today.

On to business, then.

You know I've written in the past that one of my biggest pet peeves is too-baggy clothes on young men and boys.

Well, it's back in the news. Newsweek, to be exact. The magazine has an "exclusive" story about a push by David Dicks, Flint, Michigan's new police chief to criminalize saggy pants.

Dicks has ordered his officers to start arresting "saggers," as these young men are called in the Newsweek article, because they are a national nuisance. He says their style is "immoral self expression" and deserving of jail time and/or fines.

This is a tough one for me. I love the spirit of what Dicks is doing, 'cause I think the saggy style is stupid. I'm not dissing hip-hop culture. I love elements of hip-hop culture. I'm one of the billion different faces of Gen-Xers who grew up to the tunes of Run D.M.C. and Public Enemy and MC Serch, and all the other artists whose clothes fit.

Just an aside, coincidentally, I did my occasional Q&A for today's paper with my buddy Joe Gannascoli AKA Vito Spatafore from The Sopranos. And when I asked Joe Soup to share with our readers his biggest pet peeve, he cited the saggy trousers.Hood_sag

Anyway, as much as this style annoys me, I'm bothered by it being criminalized. Unless saggers' butt cheeks are showing - not their boxers, but their actual cheeks, or their front set of naughty bits is showing - again, not their boxers, but their actual bits, then this is one "crime" that can't be enforced without, at a minimum, drawing cries of classism.

Think about it. If you criminalize baggy sagging pants and arrest guys who dress like that, then you're gonna have to start arresting young women who wear tight, low-riding pants that reveal the tops of their undies.Lowrise_chick_pants

Which is worse? As a guy who loves women, naturally I say the man shorts showing is a much worse offense. But my bias is blatant. And if I was a defense attorney in Flint, I'd have a field day with that question.

In the realm of pop culture, tasteless as it is, this is a legit style, albeit one that often has young men with perfectly straight legs walking bow-legged to help keep their pants from falling down around their ankles.

The style has caught on in the punk music culture scene, as well.Skater_sag

Regardless, it's dumb. And I'm not saying that as an old fogey. I like to think I'm a relatively stylish guy. And I know that young people often dress differently than grown folks. But there's nothing creative or interesting about that particular style.

And I seriously doubt that most of the young men who subscribe to it - from the 'hoods to the corn fields - realize that it originated in prison. Ask an old, gray inmate or former inmate who can talk about being behind bars and they'll give you two versions of the origin of saggy pants: one says that pants sag on male inmates, because often they can't have belts, for fear they'll hurt themselves or someone else with the belts; the other version says that male inmates who have been designated "girlfriends" are compelled to wear their trousers saggy, so as to indicate that their man cheeks are in play, so to speak.

I've heard people try to defend the style, saying it developed in urban communities where poor kids had to wear over-sized hand-me-downs. But that's a crock. I'm sure there are poor children in poor communities who wear hand-me-down clothes that are too big. You do what you gotta do to get by. This style isn't about poverty. If you don't believe me, check out the brand labels on the next pair of jeans you see sagging below the butt-cheeks.

Anyway, again I applaud Chief Dicks' intentions, but I don't think it's the government's place to be fashion police, unless those fashions are literally obscene.

What do you think?

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Julie B

James, I agree. Saggy pants are dumb but that's not a crime. I just discovered your blog last week and have really enjoyed it!

claudia

james, I agree with you about it...that it's not a good look, but I don't see how it can be criminalized. Seriously,"immoral self expression?" Puhleeze, more like tasteless self-expression (goes for the thongs showing too.) As for the idea that it originated in urban communities where kids had to wear hand me downs? Oh, that's classic-I'd like to know how many people really want to pass off as too poor to buy clothes that actually fit?

Edub

Big Brothers watching.
Not too far away...

mark

Great post James. Gals who wear pants low showing their thong is called "Whale tailing." I approve of whale tailing if said gal is height/weight proportionate.

Mary

There certainly are some crazy styles out there, ranging from just plain silly to borderline offensive. But to criminalize how people wear their clothing is too much government in an area it shouldn't be. Doesn't Michigan have other issues the police can tackle. The article said Flint was the 3rd most dangerous city in America last year.

Bobby Cramer

I don't think this is what they had in mind when they were talking about "America's Crack Problem."

Fashion comes and goes, and as someone who as a teenager in the 1960's, did the fashion of the day (long hair, tie-dyed shirts, the whole schmeer), I thought it was funny when cops would rail on us "long-haired hippie-types," which is probably the reaction that these kids are looking for.

It's not supposed to be smart, but then fashion never is.

michelle502

7/21/08

To me, its another case of gov't sticking their noses where they've got NO BUSINESS sticking their noses into!!! BEFORE they start dictating what young men can and can't wear, they NEED TO GET THEIR OWN D** HOUSE IN ORDER!!! When they stop ALL THE STEALING FROM TAXPAYING CITIZENS, they they've got a right to open their mouths and tell the rest of us working people how we can and can't live!! Also, if this "great" gov't is going to make it harder on young men(black, white, Latino, etc)with droopy pants, they need to get on the young(and old!) ladies who wear their shorts up their crack, their jeans too low, and their shirts too revealing. Its discrimination against mostly black men again, plain and simple(as if they don't make black people's lives hard enough as it is!!!)WHEN THE HEAD HONCHOS IN GOV'T(all branches of gov't, from the head honchos in Washington DC to the corrupt gov't of Miami) CAN DO THE FOLLOWING: 1. GET THEIR OWN HOUSE IN ORDER!!
2. STOP STEALING FROM LEGAL, TAXPAYING CITIZENS.
3. ACTUALLY ENFORCE THAT STATEMENT OF 'JUSTICE FOR ALL' AS STATED IN OUR PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE. IN OTHER WORDS, PEOPLE OF COLOR SHOULDN'T GET LONGER SENTENCES THAN WHITE PEOPLE DO FOR THE EXACT SAME CRIME!!!
When--AND ONLY WHEN--gov't can do those things, then they've got a right to open their money-grubbing mouths. Until then--LEAVE THE YOUNG PEOPLE, AND ALL PEOPLE ALONE!!!

P.S.: I personally don't like the style, but until gov't stops being hypocritical, they need to shut the heck up!!

Wavemancali

James I'm a Canadian green card holder living in Los Angeles and I swear the legal decisions coming down in the past few years have me seriously questioning my immigration plans.

I don't want to live in a country where my house can be stolen by eminent domain and given to a rich developer. I don't want to live in a country where just because the call comes from Canada the government can listen in on it. I don't want to live in a country where it is illegal to express yourself through fashion, no matter how stupid that fashion is.

The perils of obtaining my US citizenship are starting to outweigh the benefits.

Young people are stupid. Legislation won't change this fact. It will only show the legislators are equally moronic.

Wavemancali

James I'm a Canadian green card holder living in Los Angeles and I swear the legal decisions coming down in the past few years have me seriously questioning my immigration plans.

I don't want to live in a country where my house can be stolen by eminent domain and given to a rich developer. I don't want to live in a country where just because the call comes from Canada the government can listen in on it. I don't want to live in a country where it is illegal to express yourself through fashion, no matter how stupid that fashion is.

The perils of obtaining my US citizenship are starting to outweigh the benefits.

Young people are stupid. Legislation won't change this fact. It will only show the legislators are equally moronic.

insomniac

maybe they need to take a leaf out of the prison manual, and make the implication that saggers are into a bit of "brotherly love". it might make some of the more macho saggers pull their pants up so as not to turn away the girls.
in australia we have a speeding campaign where ads, billboards etc show a person holding out their pinky finger to a speeding driver to link their speed to the size of their front bits, and it has had some effect.

Pamela

If you're going to crack down (get it? crack down) .. on guys wearing that stuff, you better hold females to the same standards.

I prefer butts covered.

Walking behind a low rider gives me the giggles. A little woman with horns on my shoulder cries out, "grab them and yank them down!!" Fortunately, the other shoulders halo'd guest has saved me from disasster. (O:

The CEO

We demonstrated that we couldn't legislate morality with the Volcker Act of 1919. Why do we think we can legislate taste? I'd like it if my wife would agree with me half the time, and probability says I should get that. She's not so sure of that. I have found it's all in the presentation, but that's a different issue.

Monty

BobG

"Anyway, as much as this style annoys me, I'm bothered by it being criminalized."

100% with you there. If being a tasteless jackass was a crime, half of Hollywood would be locked up.

Kwesi

Plumbers beware! Ladies, high riders only and I predict cleavage citations next! blah ha ha

tom

If that is all you worry about. Congratulations, you have a simple life.

You should probably worry more about how you dress, than how other boys dress. Live your life the way you want, but let others do thir thing.

No one is forcing you to sag your pants. No one.

I think it looks cool, it is very comfortable and keeps well the parts well ventilated.

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