Sagging Pants Turn Georgia Towns Into Fashion Police

Fashion fads have come and gone, causing dismay in each generation of parents. In the past, students had the hem of skirts measured from their knee, later students were sent home for short-shorts or inappropriate t-shirt slogans, yet none were ever considered “criminals.”

In the last few years, cities around the country have been dealing with the perceived “epidemic” of teens and young adults that wear their pants below the hips, low enough to show their underwear.

The trend has its roots in the prison system, but has spread into the so-called “hip-hop” culture and, as usual, impressionable kids have picked up on what their favorite artists are doing and are imitating it. Unfortunately, the reaction to this perceived problem is elected officials turning themselves into the fashion police by criminalizing dress.

The City of Hampton, a small town in South Metro Atlanta, recently received attention after passing a ban on “sagging pants.” The reason is behind their action, according the Henry Daily Herald, is the number of complaints coming from citizens. Hampton Police Chief Rad Porter says, “I felt we needed to do something about this conduct.”

Now someone caught wearing their pants more than three inches below the hips can be cited for “disorderly conduct” and could end up paying a fine ranging from $50 to $200.

The City of Jonesboro, not far from Hampton, is considering a similar ban on sagging pants even though Mayor Luther Maddox admits that “[i]t really hasn’t gotten out of hand yet.”

This may be a rude and undesirable trend, but looking like a fool in public is not illegal. Moreover, we have become a society so easily offended by some of the silliest things that we believe that governments should ban certain behavior even though it does not infringe upon our rights.

Whether the residents of these towns and their elected officials like it or not, the freedom of expression – which can come in many variations, including how someone dresses – is a protected form of speech under the First Amendment.

There are no doubt other more serious issues and problems in Hampton and Jonesboro that are in need of attention from their elected officials than how teenagers wear their pants.

by Bob Barr — The Barr Code

76 comments Add your comment

DeborahinAthens

August 5th, 2011
7:02 am

I remember some of the horrid things I wore when I was young. I actually had a mini skirt (1969) that was eighteen inches long. I thought I was hot stuff (gag a maggot). I eventually found classic role models and learned to dress appropriately. One hopes these young men will also find their way. Markey Mark (of underwear fame) is now Mark Wahlberg, a very respected actor and producer. However, somewhere inside of me Cher lives! It is a free country, no one should have the right to
tell you what to wear.What is up with this proclivity to pass a law for every thing that might bug a
particular group? It’s insane.

caslosgvv

August 5th, 2011
7:52 am

If people out there are being beaten, raped, robbed and murdered, the police can do something about it. Or, they can go after people who aren’t dressed properly. Taking the easy way out usually wins every time.

TayThomp

August 5th, 2011
8:45 am

I believe you meant to say ‘wear’ not ‘where’ in the last sentence. Also, did you mean that this ban DOES infringe on our rights.

Just wanted some clearity.

gman

August 5th, 2011
9:10 am

he meant to say “where teens wear their pants” in a reference to the area of the body the pants do or dont cover.

Pants on the Ground.

Dr. Pangloss

August 5th, 2011
9:14 am

Deborah, you probably were hot stuff in that miniskirt. It would be a shame if the young ‘uns ever quit thinking of outrageous ways to dress and wear their hair.

Mr. Neutral

August 5th, 2011
9:44 am

I understand that people should have a certain freedom to what they say or where or do. However wearing your clothes in such a way is also indecent exposure. No one wants to see someones nasty underwear while they’re eating in a restaurant or walking through a park. They are called UNDERwear for a reason.

Jack

August 5th, 2011
9:56 am

I reckon Barr hasn’t been doing a lilttle high dining in a Waffle House and have someone come in and sit close by with his pants half off. It’s hard to explain that to my little girls.

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CFillmore

August 5th, 2011
10:01 am

You are all missing the real issue here. I encourage you to get on your knees and look as if you are a young child. Young children have these uncovered rear ends right in their faces all day long. I see young men sagging their pants so low that not only are there butts uncovered but the fronts too. This is an indecent act, willfully exposing yourself by lowering your pants can be considered child molestation. Georgia law provides that a person commits the offense of child molestation when he or she does any immoral or indecent act to or in the presence of or with any child under the age of 16 years with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the person. Now I know most young men are not intending to be indecent but there are a lot of individuals that are using this trend as an excuse and to cover up to what they are intending. Working in the security field I have personally seen this in action. I see on public transportation children standing two to three inches from an unknown male with his junk right in their face. Children are the ones that need protection from any form of indecent activity, yet there are not even being thought of in this debate.

MikeB

August 5th, 2011
10:02 am

“looking like a fool in public is not illegal.” Right you are Mr. Barr! Hey that rhymes! Does this qualify as Hip-Hop? j/k :)

Whats funny is the convergence that happens from time to time when real thugs intersect with people “playin the role”. That usually cures the wannabe’s, of which there are considerably more of……..

Kinda like a motorcycle rider wearing a 1% patch without the credibility/authorization to do so…….. Its gonna be painful in either scenario for the imposter.

Just a suggestion to those that desire a specific reputation……. Go earn it vs. acting as if………. If ya got the stones for that sorta thing(Tongue firmly in cheek with this suggestion btw)……. This way our boys in blue can lock you up for something real rather than these idiot ordinances.

amy

August 5th, 2011
10:07 am

Cfillmore
So are the girls wearing mini skirts offensive? I personally hate the low jeans but they will grow out of it.

Davo

August 5th, 2011
10:17 am

I’m just curious…has BB ever responded to a comment on this blog? I can’t recall any, which makes me wonder if his submissions even deserve to be called a blog as most I’m familar with are an exchange of opinions rather than ‘talk amongst yourselves’.

Toby

August 5th, 2011
10:19 am

That sagging trousers law is a thinly-veiled excuse to lock up black males (potential Dem voters).

CFillmore

August 5th, 2011
10:23 am

In the areas I work, men in their thirties are still saggng. I don’t find any of it personally offensive. I’m not 3 feet tall. But when you see children being put into situations where people have their private areas placed in their faces that bothers me. I guess I am more aware of it because I deal with the after math of child abuse in low income communities. And to know sex offenders are walking around sagging under the claim of fashion is offensive. I am not trying to attack anyone just giving some food for thought about what is seen by the children. Someone needs to speak for the little people.

itamazesme

August 5th, 2011
10:34 am

I don’t care to see anyone’s fruit of the loom, or their tighties. It is still a fashion statement, a HORRIBLE fashion statement, yet it is one. However, it is no different than seeing someone with plumber’s butt (men and women). I’ve had the misfortune of eating out, looking up and looking straight into the crack of someone’s society. Still there are other items people wear that are offensive to some. Such as half tops and you look to be pregnant, or the fact that you have on a tigh dress or short shorts and you can see the cottage cheese (cellulite) in your legs and rump, or the fact that you have on a tube top and you wear a tripple D and they are barely covered or you wear same said top and your back needs a bra. Or the fad where female celebrities started wearing tight dresses and t-shirts during their pregnancies and next thing you know – that is all you see some women wearing. In other words, we have all been guilty of wearing unflattering items that some may find offensive. If these men (which is even more ridiculous) and the young men want to present themselves as if they need a diaper. If the women want to continue to think just because they made it in my size means I can wear it – then to each his own. We have all at one point or another been in violation of invading someone else’s eye space.

David B.

August 5th, 2011
10:55 am

Seeing cracks in public is indecent exposure. No special pants laws needed, just ticket them for that.

rooster

August 5th, 2011
11:06 am

What about plumbers?

hank

August 5th, 2011
11:22 am

We are not offended by anything. If we were then sagging pants would not be an issue. Kill a dog, cat, or call the warden a horse, and it is jail time; leave a child in a hot car asleep to die and it’s probation. We are much more easily offended when it comes to speach and hypersensitivity or our warped opinions than any real moral posisiton. Say anything about the political left, right, homosexuality, discipline in schools or why little johnny needs to be kicked out of school and the outcry is overwhelming. I agree we need less laws and not more. Repeal the laws against corporal punishment and I bet little johnny will not expose that part of his anatomy long. But, no, it is better to let him slide than correct inappropriate behavior. A long time ago we forgot the difference between right and wrong and Bob you are wrong, it is the little foxes that ruin the vinyard.

Shaye

August 5th, 2011
11:42 am

While I agree that there are more important things to worry about and passing laws against dress is ridiculous… the super-low “pants” drives me absolutely batsh*t. I frequently see people walking around with the entirety of their buttocks exposed. Seeing other people’s underwear does indeed offend me to a degree. *shrug* Maybe I’m becoming an old lady early. :P

Allen

August 5th, 2011
11:50 am

Mr. Barr – you missed the bar this time. Spend one day in a Metro middle school. This “fashion” is not only offensive and disgusting, but it is totally disruptive to the learning environment. It is a distraction in our community and speaks volumes about the kind of people who sport that so-called fashion. You should be more supportive to the REAL tax paying and law abiding citizens. Those who dress in that manner generally are not voters nor are they tax payers – they live off the tax payers!

jo yo

August 5th, 2011
12:00 pm

I don’t like tatoos or piecings so can we pass a law against those too? Let’s outlaw combovers and tight pants on overwieght people while we are at it.

Boss

August 5th, 2011
12:22 pm

I see a lot of morbidly obeese people in this town that can’t pull their pants up over their fat butts. I would like to see them issued tickets as well. In fact, the police forces staking out the local Golden Corral could help curb this obnoxious behavior.

Ray Pugh

August 5th, 2011
12:24 pm

Allen @ 11:50,

He’s not talking about in schools you buffoon. Apparently you should have paid more attention in the one you went to. Also, just because someone doesn’t vote means they shouldn’t have Constitutional rights?

Father Murphy

August 5th, 2011
12:26 pm

I dont always wear pants.

Mitzymy

August 5th, 2011
12:30 pm

It’s ironic that teens and young adults would adopt a fad started in prison, of all places. It seems that if you are wearing your pants down to your knees in prison, it would be easy to get raped. There were many fads in apparel in the past that went away, but this fad is even progressing into 10 & 12 year olds. Our schools have dress codes and uniforms. They also have teachers and administrators standing at the school doors and the buses checking children as they exit the bus, enter the school building, and all day long in the halls. They are sent to the principal’s office if they are not in compliance and their parents are called to pick them up. This results in the children missing a school day and the parents missing a day of work. It is not cute to wear your pants low, but I’m afraid other than at school, there is nothing that can be done about it.

bob

August 5th, 2011
12:44 pm

The solution is simple, at least for the children. Instead of making it a crime this should be a launching board for a school uniform issue.

Scott

August 5th, 2011
12:52 pm

Well,one good thing about those folks wearing their pants like that is they can’t steal much.
It’s hard to steal much when you have to run and hold up your pants at the same time.

teacher

August 5th, 2011
1:18 pm

When will this prison trend end?
It looks awful and I am sick of it.

oldguy

August 5th, 2011
1:34 pm

I always wonder who they are, so if it offends (they) tell them not look. I admit it’s stupid but you are allowed to be stupid as long as you don’t harm someone else!

Ivan Cohen

August 5th, 2011
1:45 pm

The prison trend will end when someone comes up with tailor made prison attire. Inmates must have been hanging themselves with their belts so they were taken away. Ditto with the shoelaces. Now if the small towns want to discourage this fashion fad, they could encourage their pastors, police chiefs and bank presidents to wear their pants below the hips. Young folks will pick up another fashion trend real fast.

Rafe Hollister

August 5th, 2011
1:47 pm

I did crazy things that I thought was cool and offended older people, but was never so crazy to do twice things that hindered me. This sagging pants thing is self destructive. No one will hire one of these morons. They have to work twice as hard to accomplish any task, their movement is restricted, and they are the object of ridicule. I just don’t get it.

We bleached our hair with peroxide and wore tight clothes and long hair, but I could still do daily activities as well as anyone.

It Is What It Is

August 5th, 2011
1:51 pm

Obviously Mr. Barr hasn’t seen been in an area where this is such an issue. These little punks that wear their pants below their wast are a disgrace. Its not freedom of expression!!!! Its HEY EVERYONE, LOOK AT ME. I don’t want to see a black kid’s underwear when I’m in public. While I agree this is somewhat of a waste of resources because police shouldn’t have to deal with this.

This is a problem that parents should take care of. But since this happens in a one parent home, and there is no daddy around, it goes on.

Sherry

August 5th, 2011
2:09 pm

A few years ago, my husband took our son to be fitted for a prom tux. In the tux shop, there was a mom with her teenage son also looking for prom wear. The boy came out of the dressing room with trousers sitting low and said, These pants don’t fit right. The well dressed, dignified looking mom shot back with “That’s because you have them around your a** and not your waist.”

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ND

August 5th, 2011
2:17 pm

Bob Barr is sadly one of the few voices of reason on this issue. Who decides what fashions should be criminalized anyway? Why is a fashion choice preferred predominantly by black men being singled out when any number of undesirable “white” fashion choices — gaping holes in the knees of jeans, faces full of black piercings, etc. — are not under legal attack?

Sad that the majority seem to support this in a supposedly small government favoring red state. This is the exact same mentality, in less extreme form, that causes Islamic countries to deploy fashion police to ensure that women are wearing burqas. I guess as long as government is only intruding in other people’s lives other than your own it is fine with some of you.

Greg Camp

August 5th, 2011
2:25 pm

As with many fashion faux pas, the correct response is to ignore the offender or to laugh, if something more seems necessary. That being said, I’m sure that what I wear and do is seen as wrong by someone. The question here is whether anyone is being harmed, and in this case, the answer is no. (Please don’t sing the “think of the children” line…)

Believing in liberty means believing that we each have the right to our own harmless foolishness. Otherwise, I have a long list of things that I want to ban, including some things that each person here may enjoy.

Chuck

August 5th, 2011
2:43 pm

If they want to dress like criminals, I say we accommodate them.

mike

August 5th, 2011
2:53 pm

Somebody will eventaully sue these two cities. Neither has any money for defense. Maybe Jonesboro does. They can step up that ticket trap at Hwy 54 and US 19/41. And they can sit next to the alternative school across from the park and ride and give out tickets to the black males going to and from the school. Hampton can give out tickets in the Walmart parking lot. That seems to be a hangout on the weekends. What’s next? Tickets for wearing a baseball hat backwards?

E

August 5th, 2011
3:13 pm

“Won’t somebody please think of the children?” Seriously it’s 2011. If you don’t like it, move. There are places where people don’t wear their pants low. Live there.

JF McNamara

August 5th, 2011
3:15 pm

As long as there is not nudity, who cares? Do you explain a Bikini to your kids on the beach? How about cheerleaders? How about Beer commercials with half naked women?

This is just a harrasment law. There is not nudity. Just bad taste.

athletic

August 5th, 2011
3:15 pm

anyone has the right to look like a fool, that is a personal choice. this stuff is beyond foolish. it is dirty, filthy, trashy. hands in pants, masturbating while walking, hair not combed, mouth dripping saliva. no education, no employment, no goals… life was not intended to be lived as such. can’t these folk do any better? it doesn’t require alot of effort…

speaking of rights:

i don’t hate gays, that is their right choice, i pray for everyones best. i hated when a homosexual approached me at the gym with an uncontrollable erotic, passionate desire to engage in a perverse, unimaginable, unthinkable, animalistic deed. keeping a handle on my intent which would have put me in jail for quite sometime, i asked myself, “don’t i have a right as a dues paying member not to be approached like this?” i didn’t behave to warrant that and don’t want to be approached like that nor want that in my face, it’s my right. my personal choices dont offend and cause people grief. rights should benefit and build up, not contribute to the demise of culture.

this ‘right to do whatever i want’ is wiping humanity off the planet.

itamazesme

August 5th, 2011
3:55 pm

@it is what it is – it isn’t just black kids – it is heavier among the blacks but i’ve observed men of different races doing it. it doesn’t make them thugs – it just so happens that they got the STUPID idea from thugs. it is no more than watching a woman who has no business with a bikini on flaunting around-or that woman that has on a tank style top with a bra that shows her straps. a bra is underwear as well-it is not different than people having plumbers butt and you are forced to look at their cracks in society-it is no different than the woman who has on a tight dress or short shorts and you can see her cottage cheese (cellulite)-it is no different than the female celebrities who started wearing tight dresses and t-shirts during their pregnancies and now you see alot of it-it is no different than a woman in a tube top who needs a bra for her back-or the woman in a mid-driff top and she looks as if she is expecting. It isn’t any different then the “skater boy” look with the tight jeans-different colored hair, etc. I could go on about “looks” that offend. In other words-the fashion police would be writing tickets to alot of people all day-at one point or another, we all have been guilty of invading someone’s eye space.

It is JUST A fashion statement – a HORRIBLE one, but it is. If these dummies want to walk around looking foolish-then it is their right to do so. I hope that it goes away soon, but until then – jonesboro and hampton have bigger fish to fry than keeping tabs on someone with their tighties or fruit of the looms showing.

also to the person that says uniforms – believe it or not – the schools in those two cities have been in unifrom for a couple of years now!

Bernie Lomax

August 5th, 2011
3:55 pm

What about ascots? Should they be banned as well Mr. Barr?

Jack Meehoff

August 5th, 2011
3:58 pm

If you don’t like it, move outta the ghetto!

Destin Dawg

August 5th, 2011
4:08 pm

they wonder why they can’t get a job. ??? come to think of it I never saw baggy pants… really working hard.. military .. sports.. etc… tattoos.. piercings.. maybe I’m just old… but older people do most of hiring right ???

MrLiberty

August 5th, 2011
4:16 pm

In the next 5 years we are going to be seeing a massive number of town bankruptcies. While pensions, prosecution of victimless crimes and the like are going to be the cause, these clowns are worried about a bit of butt crack and underwear showing. What is showing is the complete incompetence of local government leaders.

Sweet Chuck

August 5th, 2011
4:18 pm

Can’t we all just get along?

MrLiberty

August 5th, 2011
4:20 pm

Makes me think of the great song by Madness “Baggy Trousers.” Now that was some fun music (British SKA from the 80’s).

Man our society is doomed.

Richard D

August 5th, 2011
4:24 pm

In what way is this worse than Lady Gaga parading around half naked?

CJ

August 5th, 2011
4:52 pm

Sagging is a fad, I wish would go away and stay! @it is what it is.. It is not just a black thing, this fad is one that reaches across all racial lines, and I have seen some 30 and 40 year old guys doing the same thing.