Florida city moves to repeal law against sagging pants (op-ed)

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OPA-LOCKA, FL – So after 13 years of a strange law in Opa-Locka, Florida that could fine people for sagging their pants, the law is now on it’s way to getting quashed. While it may seem strange, back in 2007, Opa-Locka had banned people from “housing” their pants (as was the term in the 1990s) in certain areas – such as parks, city buildings and the ilk.

What comes to mind in all this, is why was there a ban on sagging pants in 2007 – years divorced from when that was a…fashionable…thing to do? Why was this even a law? Furthermore, why repeal it now?

Anyone that had a degree of cognizance in the 1990s likely remembers the rise of people sagging their pants. Outside of those adorning the strange fashion statement, most people looked upon the exposing of one’s unmentionables and thought it to be tacky at the least.

People often think that sagging one’s pants started in prison to display one’s availability to other men for homosexual relations.

That’s a half truth.

The sagging of pants does have roots in prison – but it was because most prisons didn’t allow belts and offered state-issue clothing that often didn’t fit. The reason why prisons weren’t giving inmates belts for decades was because it was a common tool used for hanging one’s self.

It later infiltrated pop culture as a sort of dog whistle (or inside joke) in the music industry within rap music, signaling prison culture.

But apparently exposed undies caused some localities to get some legislation in the works. Among those localities was Opa-Locka.

In 2007, after passing local legislation against sagging pants, people within the confines of Opa-Locka could find signs in the park that cleverly stated:

“No ifs, ands or butts…It’s the city law!”

Florida city moves to repeal law against sagging pants (op-ed)
Opa-Locka sign noting that sagging pants in public areas is against the law – City of Opa-Locka

So why was this a law passed in 2007? Well, frankly that’s hard to say. Most people might remember the trend starting to gain momentum and hit an all-time high around some point in the 1990s.

Yet, numerous jeans manufacturers responded by the mid-to-late 90s and started selling baggy pants (JNCO jeans was huge around that period).

But if someone was caught wearing some saggy pants in Op-Locka post-2007, they could have been looking at a $500 fine, according to how the law was drafted. But it wasn’t just saggy pants either that could land someone a fine – women showing a little too much cleavage could get fined too:

“It shall be unlawful for an individual (male or female) to wear saggy pants or slacks apparel wherein underwear or under garments are exposed in city buildings and parks. Females, as well, shall also be banned from wearing saggy shirt or blouse apparel.

Neither males nor females shall wear saggy apparel such as to constitute indecent exposure…Any person found by the special master to have committed a violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00).”

If fines weren’t enough, folks deciding to wear their pants below their waist could also have to do up to 25 hours of community service in concurrence with the fine.

So, the next question would be, why was this even a law in the first place?

This type of decency law would make a little more sense having been a relic from scores of years ago, but it’s unclear why the city would ban sagging pants and a little bit of cleavage. Keep in mind, this is in Dade County where there are six beaches just 15 miles or less away from Opa-Locka.

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If folks in Opa-Locka are clutching their pearls at someone’s Hanes or Fruit of the Loom undies being visible, wait until they swing by a beach and see what constitutes as swimwear that doesn’t violate indecent exposure.

Spoiler alert – imagine a garment a few millimeters thicker than dental floss being used to cover a woman’s anatomy below. That’s pretty much the standard in Dade County beaches for the ladies toting the beach-bods.

Of course, the final question would be: why address this now?

The Opa-locka City Commission voted on September 9th in a 4-1 vote to repeal the 2007 legislation.

I’d really like to know who that one holdout was and if they still live in a world still romanticizing The Hays Code that forbade married on-screen TV couples from being depicted as sleeping in the same bed on television.

Well, apparently the impetus for tackling this silly law now is because some thinks it’s a racist law. Vice Mayor Chris Davis sponsored the repeal and stated the following about the effort:

“I was never in support of it, even as a resident. I felt it disproportionately affected a certain segment of our population, which is young, African-American men.”

Basically, Vice Mayor Davis thinks that young black men have an affinity for droopy trousers and to have a law of this nature on the books seems discriminatory. That’s a little bit of a silly stretch to be honest, and if anyone were to pose the question of why the law should be done with is because it’s just kind of a silly law.

Now of course, I’m certain that some folks might clamor about not “wanting to see someone’s underwear”.

That’s a fair statement to a degree, but someone’s pants riding below the waist showcases (more often than not) a mere variation of fabric. Unless someone is wearing a thong underneath their pants or shorts, it’s simply a layer of cotton fabric versus a layer of denim or other various threading.

Now another argument against a reversal of the law might be “well, I don’t want my kids to see someone’s underwear!”

Well, be prepared to start protesting interstate billboards for underwear advertisements, not taking your kids to the beach, never turning on pretty much any TV channel in your home again and not exiting your bedroom in your boxers or undies ever again for fear the children will be scarred.

Honestly, sagging pants these days is on an extreme decline versus what it was 25-30 years ago anyway. If someone wants to dress like an idiot, well, it’s a free country – and damn good country at that.

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