According to a recent article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta City Council is considering an amendment to the city's indecency laws that would make certain currently popular fashion trends illegal and thus punishable by fine. The common denominator among targeted styles is the revealing of the wearer's underwear: specific practices mentioned are excessively baggy pants (intended to reveal the boxer shorts or thongs underneath), sport bras worn as tops, and the showing of one's bra straps.
As one who often cringes at the sight of all the trends mentioned in the article (as well as some that are not), I find myself applauding this proposal and watching with interest to see if it succeeds in passing. (I would, however, encourage the proposal's sponsor to add ridiculously low-cut pants and excessive midriff-baring to his list of infractions.) But not surprisingly, opponents are already lining up to fight the measure. Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, has stated that the law will not withstand a court challenge. If you're thinking that such a challenge would hinge on freedom of speech (expressed through one's clothing), think again. Instead, Seagraves says that the primary basis for fighting the law would be that it is discriminatory because it unfairly targets black youth.
Huh? I understand that overly baggy pants can be traced to rap culture, but I'm not sure the other styles being targeted share that origin. And even if they do, the time when rap culture was limited to the black population has long since passed. I live, work, and attend church in a predominately white, affluent Chicago suburb, and I commonly see people of all ethnicities and ages wearing many of the offending styles. (Truth be told, I don't see a lot of males in my age group wearing baggy pants, but I do see a surprising number of women my age & older wearing outfits that in my opinion they in particular have no business wearing.)
I'm curious to hear what others think of this attempt by members of the Atlanta City Council to legislate some decency and modesty among the residents of their city. Does it have any hope of succeeding? If the measure passes, it is enforceable? Or is the whole thing a waste of time? Certainly it is reasonable for our government to make laws requiring decency in dress and behavior--we have all kinds of rules against nudity, indecent exposure, public intoxication and disturbing of the peace--but is it realistic to start specifying what types of dress are acceptable?
I tend to think that to a certain extent the answer is yes. Underwear is underwear--it is not meant to be revealed, and I don't think I should have to avert my gaze to avoid seeing that of another person. But I am more conservative than most people. So I would be interested to hear what you think.