The Mayor of Wildwood, New Jersey has had it up to here with the youths who parade around wearing trousers that sag far below their hips, exposing their undergarments to innocent families en route to the beach. And so he's decided to banish them from his boardwalk entirely and unleash the fashion police to enforce sartorial order.
"When you have good families who call you up and say, 'I've been coming here 20 years, 30 years, 40 years and I'm not going to any longer because I'm not going to subject my children or my parents or grandparents to seeing some kid walk down the boardwalk with their butt hanging out,' you have to do something," mayor Ernest Troiano Jr. tells the AP. "I'm not one of the Fruit of the Loom underwear inspectors; I'm not one of the grapes. I don't want to see it."
The law, which is expected to pass tomorrow, would also require men to wear shirts and everyone to wear shoes on the boardwalk. But the sagging pants ordinance has gotten most of the attention. It would set fines at $25-$100 for the first offense for anyone with pants sagging more than 3 inches below the hips. A second offense would result in a $200 fine. After strike three, offenders are given government-issued unitards to solve the pants problem altogether. (Kidding, but that sounds like utopia.)
Of course, we've staggered down this road before. In 2009, a Bronx man was issued a disorderly conduct summons because he was wearing "his pants down below his buttocks exposing underwear [and] potentially showing private parts." But a judge ultimately threw out the charges, ruling that as long as no private parts are exposed, no crime is committed. "The Constitution still leaves some opportunity for people to be foolish if they so desire," ruled slacktivist judge Ruben Franco. An ad campaign against sagging hasn't seemed very effective either.
Ruthann Robson, a City University of New York law professor and author of the upcoming book "Dressing Constitutionally," tells the AP that the Wildwood law is unconstitutional. "As for municipalities requiring men to wear shirts, at least one federal appellate court has said that is 'irrational,'" she Robson says. And potential targets of the new law don't seem to be concerned. One man in sagging pants approached by a reporter was wearing his pants low enough that half his navy blue briefs were exposed. "That's not low, compared to some of the others," he explained.