Last updated: August 12. 2014 4:20PM - 728 Views
Lucas Vance Staff Writer

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There are times when society, families and organizations fail to govern themselves, which then opens the door for “Big Brother” to step in and do what is “right.”

In the case of Winnsboro’s Town Council recently passing an ordinance outlawing sagging pants (see the Aug. 8 edition of The Herald Independent), the town’s municipal government decided it had seen enough.

Families, churches and other community organizations have failed — in the eyes of the local government — to teach the youth how to appropriately wear pants.

But in this case, I don’t believe the youth are wearing their pants low to be necessarily inappropriate, but rather because it is a fashion statement.

Albeit a style that most do not agree with or indulge in, it is still a fashion trend of the times.

Am I glad that residents will be forced to wear their pants correctly? Yes, I am. Am I glad that this jurisdiction fell into the laps of government? No, I am not.

What’s next? No backward hats? No sandals? What about mini-skirts or poodle skirts or bell-bottom jeans? Will government be given the authority to outlaw each fashion trend for the next generation?

What if governments in the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s had outlawed poodle skirts and bell-bottom jeans?

As long as a person’s dress is not depicting vulgar words/pictures or indecently exposing skin, a person’s dress should be considered a form of free expression.

After all, that is one of the perks of living in a free society, isn’t it?

Do I fully understand that our government has been forced to step in to ban the practice in the interest of common decency? Yes, I do. However, it is unfortunate that our ability to govern our own moral standards has been pulled down right along with our pants.

Winnsboro is not alone in the effort to enforce laws against sagging pants. Towns in the New Jersey beach areas have passed similar ordinances along with suburban cities outside Atlanta, Detroit, New Orleans, Miami and Jacksonville.

Winnsboro’s Town Council — I assure you — has nothing but good intentions behind the writing of such a law. Economic development has been and will continue to be an issue in Winnsboro with the empty storefronts throughout the downtown area.

And with the population’s sagging pants, what business would consider moving to the area?

A prospective employer might be wary hiring any applicant who doesn’t seem to have the sense to wear his/her pants normally.

Do I believe a person should wear their pants around their waist? Yes, I do. Do I believe the government should be enforcing fashion? No, I do not.

Perhaps lost in all this scuffle is the fact that this law passed without a single public comment during the public hearing. Not one single resident stood up and expressed either support or opposition to the ordinance.

And yet, since its passing, the new law has been the talk of the town. Whether it be through social media or merely conversation on the street, many people have had an opinion.

However, my question is why citizens decided to forgo their opportunity to express that opinion through a public forum.

It is perhaps more sad that no one showed up to the public hearing, rather than the government deciding fashion laws for its residents. The public should always show up when its government is making new laws.

And now since the public was not heard on this issue, the government has told its residents to pull up your pants or the law will do it for you.

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