Opelousas, La. – In a striking example of authoritarian overreach, a Louisiana Police Chief, Donald Thompson asked the city council to enact an ordinance banning sagging pants on men and women.
"It's something that I think that's very disrespectful here in this city for the citizens of the city of Opelousas. It's inappropriate, and it's time that some city ordinance is put in place to enforce that," Thompson told KATC.
Thompson claims he is ready to take on any legal challenges to the proposed ordinance, with the Mayor and city legal advisor stating they will look into the legalities of the ordinance, according to Daily World.
“I’m not afraid of the ACLU,” Thompson said. “I’m ready to go to court. It’s disrespectful to the city for this type of attire to be worn in public buildings, stores and whatnot.”
The ACLU takes a very different position on the legality of the ordinance. The Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana, Marjorie R. Esman, said sagging is protected under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as “a form of expression.”
“The government must demonstrate a rational basis for its ban — and Opelousas has no legitimate rational basis for regulating the attire of its residents,” Esman wrote.
The racial undertones of the ordinance are clear, as sagging will simply give police another excuse to make contact and interrogate otherwise innocent young black citizens.
Esman went on to say that the ordinance would make people who are unintentionally sagging, targets and would encourage racial profiling.
“It’s not the government’s job to be the fashion police,” said Esman.
Thompson claims that it’s not simply about fashion but about cultivating confidence and respect.
“It’s my responsibility as a citizen that wants to help these young men to be productive citizens,” he said. “It’s just disrespectful. Let’s leave the chief of police out of this. As a citizen, it’s about respect.”
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Esman responded that the job of police isn’t to create confidence in young people by forcing them to wear attire that isn’t “disrespectful.”
“There’s much more important issues that the police need to handle,” she said. “I can assure that wearing pants below the waist does not make the value of a person. He’s making that up, and it’s not his place to.”
At the council meeting Tuesday, councilman Tyrone Glover stated that the ordinance should extend to women wearing “Daisy Dukes,” short shorts, popularized by the Dukes of Hazard television show in the 70’s.
This goes to show the ridiculous nature of the ordinance, as “Daisy Dukes” have nothing whatsoever to do with sagging pants! It seems as though this municipality is simply deciding what styles they dislike and willy-nilly outlawing them; Constitution be damned!
An unidentified man at the council meeting stated, “I don’t want to see the police harassing young men because of their clothes,” adding that he saw sagging as “an expression of culture.”
What is truly disrespectful is not a person wearing their pants hanging off their hips, but rather the fact that an agent of the state would attempt to regulate how people wear their clothes.
Will the government next start regulating styles of haircuts we can wear or perhaps what color car we allowed to drive? Perhaps all citizens should be issued orange jumpsuits with white sneakers, that way everyone would be in accordance when we go to the mandatory Two Minutes of Hate rallies each night.
Or, perhaps Thompson should learn some RESPECT for individual liberty and the freedom of expression.
According to KATC, the penalty for this alleged fashion faux pas would include up to a $200 fine and 30 days in jail.
Read the ACLU letter to the Opelousas city council:
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay's work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.