No crime in wearing baggy pants
Whether it’s a personal decision related to fashion tastes or just forgetting a belt, many young men wear pants beneath the waist line, exposing their boxer shorts underneath.
This was the topic of a Cocoa, Florida city council meeting Tuesday, where council members rightly decided to abandon efforts to ban baggy pants that expose underwear.
City Attorney Anthony Garganese presented research to the council highlighting constitutional challenges to current bans elsewhere in the U.S., one of which was overturned. Garganese expressed the enormity of the legal cost, which may ultimately be futile if and when a higher court tossed it out.
The council acted correctly in rejecting the ban – albeit for the wrong reasons.
Wearing baggy pants with underwear exposed is different than having one’s rear end exposed. In fact, no nudity is involved whatsoever; otherwise, it would violate current laws and appropriately require police attention.
It seems a cultural bias might be at work in singling out this one particular fashion. The style is not a traditional clothing option for many. However, common clothing styles that would raise the same concerns are not met with legal efforts.
Women are allowed to wear incredibly short shorts and bathing suits in public that show far more skin than someone who’s wearing baggy pants. Many Florida beachgoers wear thong bathing suits that reveal their backside.
The First Amendment allows for the freedom of expression.
As long as standing taboos and laws against nakedness are not violated, laws ruling against a specific style of wearing one’s clothes are unnecessary.
Laws against such styles could have far-reaching consequences, like the unfair targeting of a particular population by police based on what they wear and not what they’ve done. A violator of local laws against baggy pants could face jail time if multiple offenses occur.
This is especially troublesome for those who wear saggy pants because they can’t afford new cloths.
Police would waste their time and effort enforcing these bans, instead of engaging in necessary police work like responding to and preventing dangerous crimes.
Court challenges must continue to make an example of laws that criminalize those whose taste in clothing aren’t in line with local leaders – leaders who apparently feel they have the power to play fashion police.
Laws regarding clothing must be consistent and fair for all sub-populations of the U.S., no matter how unappealing one’s personal expression may be.