Over at the Smoking Gun, they have reported on an MTV interview with Barack Obama about the new ordinance in Riviera Beach, FL banning the “sagging” of pants, a style popular amongst the youth, the skate/surf crowd, and of course, the cause of all of the world’s problems: the hip hop culture.
The big questions for me: is the law against wearing your pants/shorts below what the government determines is your waist, or is the law against the exposure of underwear? If it’s all about the waist, who gets to decide where a 2008 American waistline should be? What if you were wearing gym shorts under your underwear, and just the shorts were seen or exposed? Are underwear really that offensive? Are seeing exposed, multi-colored boxers any different than seeing someone at the beach in board shorts? Don’t we see advertisements with people in their underwear on tv, magazines, billboards, newspapers, and in the mail everyday?
What if you were wearing shorts with extra big and long pockets that could be worn at the waist but are baggy enough they appear you are wearing them 3 inches below the waist? Is seeing underwear worse than seeing someone without a shirt on? What if you were trying to be a good citizen and your belt broke, and you were on your way to the store to purchase a new one? Would you get leniency? I’m not sure of their motives, but I’ve seen women’s attire be far more borderline indecent; I’ve seen people wearing bandanas look far more menacing; and I’ve seen t-shirts with words and sentiments are far more obscene. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t I allowed to wear a shirt that says “F*ck You”?
I’m curious how the statute reads. As a rule, all vague laws should be deemed unconstitutional. As a part of our due process in this country derived from the 5th and 14th Amendments:
If a person of ordinary intelligence cannot determine what persons are regulated, what conduct is prohibited, or what punishment may be imposed under a particular law, then the law will be deemed unconstitutionally vague. The U.S. Supreme Court has said that no one may be required at peril of life, liberty, or property to speculate as to the meaning of a penal law. Everyone is entitled to know what the government commands or forbids.
It’s fairly easy to pinpoint laws created to attack particular groups of people whether it’s the youth or black people. I feel everyone has the right to be comfortable in how they dress and choose their own appearance, as long as it isn’t causing harm to another citizen, or violates rules of private businesses or certain places because of the distracting nature (i.e. school, church, etc.) I remember when I was in high school, our administration actually voted and placed a ban on any t-shirts soliciting any association, promotion, or related imagery with Marilyn Manson. At the time, I remember thinking how ridiculous and insane that seemed to me, even as a 16-year old kid who knew very little about life and discrimination – but not caring because it wasn’t an injustice directed towards me. This was also around the same time when my mind started developing realizations that adults were not superheroes – they were just older versions of myself, capable of making the same stupid mistakes, having the same poor judgment, but clouded by preconceived perceptions, outside influences, and how their “neighbors” thought about them.
It’s not the president’s responsibility though to enter in and intervene in municipal politics. That’s what local politicians are for. Those people who oppose such gross misuses of power and government resources should be using their local voice to influence local politicians. Politicians that want to stay in office, do what the people nag them for – and if they know that the spectrum of people who decide if they get re-elected has ballooned, and more people are a part of the political process, then they will be more likely to cater to those groups. I hope people of all color and age, take their involvement in getting Barack Obama elected as a sign that we need to be more involved with politics on every level of government across the whole country.
Hopefully, people will see that for the most part, the things they did to support the presidential election and candidate, were not all that complicated or time-consuming. I’m glad that this election motivated and inspired people to register and join the political process, no matter what they’re reasons for doing so. More voices = more opinions = more chances of finding solutions. If you feel that strongly about it, the great thing about our country is that you can travel down to Riviera Beach, FL and do something about it.