New York State Senator Eric Adams is fed up with seeing male youths walking around with low slung or sagging pants that exposes their underwear. Consequently, Adams is currently lobbying for a resolution to adopt a ban against wearing droopy pants in New York City public school classrooms, reports the New York Post.
Senator Adams, who says his Brooklyn district is the “ground zero for sagging,” says the style that many find offensive represents much more than a teenage stand against authority.
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“It is symbolic of the erosion of basic, normal decency,” he writes. “People shouldn’t be displaying their pubic hairs. That is not normal, acceptable behavior in young people that we are grooming to be in a professional environment. You can’t dress the same on the corner as you can in corporate America — you’ll be unemployed.”
The good senator also started the “Stop the Sag” campaign last year against the “epidemic” trend, which is a title that befits his motto, “If we raise our pants, we raise our image.”
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Last year at a social event, Senator Adams, a former New York City policeman, approached School Chancellor Dennis Walcott to discuss the saggy pants issue and how a school dress code should be enforced among city youth. Walcott informed Senator Adams that he would delve into the legalities of the disturbing style to determine if a ban can in fact be imposed.
The city’s controversial Mayor Michael Bloomberg, however, has made mention of the fact that he is not in favor of policing dress codes. Senator Adams, on the other hand, thinks that the mayor just doesn’t care to get it. “In the society he hangs out in, they don’t sag. They laugh at people that sag. And they just say, ‘Those are the people we’ll never hire, who will never date our children.’ In the universe that he lives in, sagging is not an issue. Would he hire someone that comes in the building sagging? Would he employ them to run his corporation? Would he bring them into City Hall? It’s tolerable to him because he’s removed from that universe.”
Pants sagging actually hit the scene in the 1990’s. The fashion trend got its roots in prison, where inmates were not allowed to wear belts because of the risk of suicide from hangings and the straps could also be used as weapons. The belt ban resulted in sagging pants. The droopy trend was then picked up by rappers, whose thuggish swagger influenced countless mainstream youths.
There are many lawmakers across the country who either have or want to criminalize this “badge of delinquency.” In Delcambre, Louisiana, wearing saggy pants in public carries a fine of up to $500 or up to six months in jail. In Mansfield, Louisiana, droopy pants offenders will be slapped with a fine as much as $150 plus court costs or up to 15 days of jail time. African-American Florida State Senator Gary Siplin of Orlando pushed for six years for the so-called Pull Your Pants Up law and finally got his wish last spring.
The Florida legislature voted overwhelmingly to enact the ban at the start of the 2011-12 school year, making Florida and Arkansas the only two states with such a widespread prohibition against saggy pants for students. As a matter of fact, the senator handed out dozens of belts at local high schools at the start of the school year to kids who showed up at school with saggy pants.
There are those groups who contend that the saggy pants bans are unconstitutional and an infringement of personal liberty. Groups, such as the NAACP, argue that the criminalization of saggy pants unfairly target our Black youth. Many municipalities have tried to draw on indecency laws to create the prohibitions, but their efforts have failed because opponents bring up the self-expression card, which seems to trump all arguments.
Senator Edwards, in the meantime, will not let his opponents thwart his die-hard mission to ban saggy pants in schools. “Young people have always established themselves in an anti-establishment way — I don’t care if it’s wearing long hair, wearing bell bottoms, wearing miniskirts. But there was always an adult that said, ‘Cut your hair, make that skirt longer.’ There was always a way to correct it, and that’s the role of our schools.”