Posted by: Lister | June 15, 2007

Time to tighten those belts

Pull your trousers up or go to jail, warns Louisiana mayor

Call it the battle of the drooping drawers. Across the American South, a cry has gone out to ban sagging trousers that show the wearer’s underwear. Bemused violators of the proposed law will be fined or end up in jail.

Deep in Cajun country, the mayor of the Louisiana town of Delcambre is about to sign into law a proposal that will make it a crime to wear trousers that show underwear. “If you expose your private parts, you’ll get a fine [of up to $500 (£250)],” Mayor Carol Broussard said. Repeat offenders could land themselves a six-month stretch in jail.

From Baptist church halls to town halls, calls are being made for tough laws and regulations which populist politicians and god-fearing citizens say will restore dignity to their streets and shopping malls. Opponents say the measures are designed to harass young black males and other followers of hip-hop fashion. Civil liberties groups say they follow a long tradition of laws – many of them unenforceable – which are aimed squarely at the poor.

[…] It is not only small-town Louisiana that is outraged by the sight of male underwear. In Dallas, an ambitious politician, Ron Price, backed by several city councillors will move to ban sagging pants within the city limits. He says he is fed up with people who walk the streets “with their pants below their buttocks and their underwear exposed.”

But a spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union is puzzled. “Why can’t people just look away?” she asks, pointing out that the laws have to apply equally to males and females. In recent years, Louisiana and Virginia have tried to ban sagging pants, but the efforts went nowhere.

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