Thursday, August 30, 2007

You Know What This Is Like?

Yesterday The New York Times reported that a small town in Louisiana has banned sagging pants, not citing possible gang or drug associations, which has had the ACLU predictably screaming about freedom of self expression, but citing indecency due to exposure of underwear.

I guess this means that the next time I see the top of a girl's thong above her jeans I can make a citizen's arrest. But something tells me, in my incisive and keenly muckraking Professional Critic way, that this law was not meant to crack down (sorry) on girls and their thongs. If that were the case, Britney and her in-the-public-eye vagina would have gone to the hoosegow long ago.

Don't get me wrong--as a fashion statement I am totally against sagging pants on the grounds that they simply look ridiculous, a straight jacket for the lower body. So if they must be banned, at least do it for the right reason--that we cannot, in good conscience allow the citizens of our country to look that stupid. And while we're at it we're going to go ahead and ban the permed mullet, too. But I digress.

The Times quotes Benjamin Chavis, former director of the NAACP, “The focus should be on cleaning up the social conditions that the sagging pants comes out of,” he said. “That they wear their pants the way they do is a statement of the reality that they’re struggling with on a day-to-day basis.”

And that's when it hit me--I know what this is like. Banning saggy pants is like banning full-size toiletries on the airplane. It doesn't really make sense, but the TSA has to take public action of some kind, so taking away your bottled water and toenail clippers will do. This doesn't change the conditions that help breed terrorism, nor does it change our woeful lack of undercover agents or our dearth of Arabic speaking intelligence monitors since they were all fired for being gay, but by making us jump through enough hoops before we board an airplane, we might feel safer and that goes a long way at election time.

The social and economic conditions that help make terrorism possible and those that compel a person to wear their pants real baggy are big, not easy to fix and don't make for good sound bites. They require years of tedious things like education, economic opportunities and equality, which as we all know are un-American. On the other hand, it is a snap to make travelers hand over their lethal shampoo and belt buckles. That makes a great photo op, too, the grim-faced TSA agent displaying piles of confiscated contraband--sippy cups of juice, nail files, sunscreen, hummus, gallon-size Ziploc bags--you know, the dangerous stuff. And even better--when you change out of your disturbingly crotch grabbing fighter pilot suit, throw a thumbs up and declare "mission accomplished"-- I don't know about you, but when I look at this picture, I couldn't feel any safer.

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