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Sagging pants disgusting, but can government really do anything?

Baggy jeans file photo.    (AP)

Baggy jeans file photo. (AP)

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Updated: June 14, 2012 8:24AM

Summer is coming and with it comes sagging pants.

I think most will agree that the sight of a pants hanging off a young male’s butt, in some cases exposing dirty-looking boxers, is disgusting.

Responsible adults in several arenas have tried to address the issue. In fact, not too long ago I was on a program with V-103 DJ Ramonski Luv, and he offered to give away belts to any young man that needed one.

Now Ald. Emma Mitts is hoping to join the anti-sagging crusade by introducing the “No Sagging and Dragging Please Pull Up Your Pants” resolution.

Mitts represents a diverse area of the city that includes Austin and Belmont-Cragin. Her idea is not novel. Despite the fact that sagging pants bans have been ruled unconstitutional across the country, cities and suburbs keep trying to find ways to outlaw the practice.

“I had elderly community members who came in and they were very outspoken about when are we going to do something about sagging pants,” Mitts told me. “We are going to have saggy pants testimony from those who approve or disapprove.”

She hopes to get the issue before the next education committee, but stressed her resolution is designed to open a dialogue, not criminalize the fashion trend.

“I’m trying to get a conversation started,” she said. “This style shows how we’ve lost our dignity. Maybe we can look at an ordinance that bans the attire in a business establishment or in restaurants.”

Despite being smacked down repeatedly, municipalities and states aren’t discouraged from pursuing what amounts to a public dress code.

Unfortunately, shaming didn’t work.

Although sagging has been depicted as a jailhouse behavior used to identify an inmate too weak to fight off sexual advances, the fact rappers and hip-hop performers pushed sagging on stage trumped the shame that should be associated with such negative behavior.

Worst yet, the rougher the neighborhood, the lower the pants.

“It is affecting our youth and also a generation to come because the little children are seeing what others do,” Mitts said. “The way the kids are dressing spreads to the younger generation, and they don’t know it is something that is unacceptable.”

Lynwood and Sauk Village have banned the wearing of pants that hang more than 4 inches from the hips. Collinsville legally banned sagging after getting complaints from its residents.

Still, passing an anti-sagging ban is no easy challenge.

It took six years for a Florida lawmaker to pass a “Pull Your Pants Up” law, and State Sen. Gary Siplin of Orlando had to fight off objections from the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP. Besides violating personal freedom, the organizations claimed the ban unfairly targets minorities.

Even though I am tired of watching young men dragging around in this degrading attire, I’m conflicted about the government stepping in and declaring sagging pants illegal.

After all, where does it end?

I’m also sick of looking at young women prancing around with their thongs peeping out from low-riding jeans. Granted, most women look better walking down the street with a couple of inches of flesh showing than men do trying to hold up their pants. But you can’t go after sagging pants without going after sagging pants.

And what about young people wearing pajamas in the street?

Recently, my daughter and I went to breakfast at a popular Oak Park restaurant and I couldn’t believe how many parents let their teenagers show up in a public space wearing pajama bottoms.

One girl had on a full pajama set that looked like she had slept in it — for weeks.

Unfortunately government can’t legislate common sense, and there are already laws banning indecent exposure.

But by all means, have the conversation.

Just know the people who need to hear it won’t be the people listening.

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