by Emily Norton
Special to iVoryTowerz
The information seemed too absurd. I had to sit back for at least 20 minutes before I could begin writing this.
Though certainly not the first time such ludicrousness has emerged from the South, within the past month, Tenn. Rep. Joe Towns introduced a "decency" bill that "proposes a fine of up to $1,000 for publicly wearing pants 'below the person’s waistline... in a manner that exposes the person’s underwear or bare buttocks.' "
Playfully deemed the "anti-crack bill" (although I prefer to call it the Butt Crack Bill; it has a nicer flow), this legislation swept the House Criminal Practice and Procedure subcommittee with little opposition. Towns said "people are tired of seeing the crack of folks' butts."
As entertaining and dialectically adorable as that may sound, the ramifications and implications of the bill are fairly involved. This saggy pants propaganda is steeped in discrimination. It is outdated, unfair, unrealistic, and targets a demographic that deserves a better image than the one this bill purports. To mark people as indecent in this fashion is demoralizing, unforgiving, and narrow-minded. Marking this expression of fashion as a correlative of crime is a superficial and reprehensible method of coding people as criminals.
Hedy Weinberg of American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee agrees: "We cannot criminalize a style of dress just because we find it distasteful," she said. "Banning saggy pants violates freedom of expression and promotes racial profiling."
If you value your right to privacy, your cute little g-string, or your freedom of expression, please raise your voice if a similar bill comes to your town. Surely there are more important things to focus our money and attention on. Bills like this not only indicate stagnancy and immaturity but also build walls of frightening and bigoted intolerance in other areas. They grin towards repressions already imposed and forecast little positive change in the future.
If a state government can enforce a dress code, what will come next? Ban the Butt Crack Bill!
(Photo by Jesse757 of Norfolk, VA via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license.)
Tennessee House of Representatives
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