With every new generation, there’s some outrage that compels mature adults to get up out of their recliners and shout the current equivalent of, “You kids get off my lawn,” at the teen-aged weirdos. The current outrage to public decency is saggy pants.
When I was a teen-ager, the issue had been longer hair for a couple of decades already. Older people didn’t seem to want to trust kids with hair over their ears, but they slowly adjusted. Eventually, it went out of style. Then came back. Again and again. Fashions are stupid and unpredictable, but they always change.
For some unknown reason, the current craze among a certain segment of youth is wearing pants in such a way that they hang way down. When I see kids dressed like that, I laugh. I laugh even harder when I notice the pretentious looks on their faces that tell me just how hard they’re trying to be cool by trying not to look as though they’re trying to be cool. (Follow that?) But some adults aren’t just laughing. These bozos are in positions of power, so they’re passing laws to do something about the irritation at having to see such idiocy. Sadly, I’m not sure which generation is ultimately acting the silliest about the matter.
I was reminded of this again today because I noticed a small city in north Alabama just passed a ban on saggy pants — which is vaguely defined as wearing pants three inches lower than the hip. For his part, the city police chief didn’t sound too excited about trying to enforce the ban. “Our guys aren’t going to be real crazy about running a ruler up and down someone’s backside, but we will do what we can,” the chief said. It’s sad when the police chief makes more sense at a small city council meeting than the people passing the laws.
The councilman who introduced the ordinance swore he had no intentions of telling people how to dress. Instead, he said, it was all about making sure that underwear doesn’t show. (I wonder how he would feel if people started wearing saggy pants with no underwear at all, but that’s another matter.)
The crazy thing is that if these people were wearing underwear on the beach, they’d fit right in. Why is it legal to show a little bit of something in one instance, but showing a lot of it in another instance is illegal? Why would a woman’s bikini be legal, but her underwear wouldn’t be? What’s the difference?
We create artificial differences in our heads — and then we expect other people to obey the arbitrary rules we set up. Personally, I’d rather not look at people’s underwear or their saggy pants or dozens of other things that people routinely wear. But if we’re going to live together in a one-size-fits-all society, we can’t allow the whims of a few to make arbitrary rules for the rest of us. In a society that insists on making rules for everyone, I have to argue that these goofy teens have the right to dress this way — if their parents are foolish enough to allow it.
Most of the people who wore ridiculously long hair years ago grew up, got haircuts and got real jobs and became responsible adults. There’s no reason to think the same thing won’t happen to most of the idiots of this generation who dress like this. Sending police officers armed with rulers to arrest them doesn’t help anyone. Some of the adults need to grow up.