BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett
It’s disappointing that some Mississippi parents have gone AWOL and there is a need for municipalities across the state to address the issue of ‘sagging’ pants. In my mind it’s a sign that our state has gone very far down a path of ‘entitlement expectations’ where nothing of significant value or moral standard is expected of anyone anymore.
Let’s face it. Very few people who are wearing their pants low–and both literally and figuratively showing their ass–are going to get a job. At least, not while dressed like that.
‘Sagging’ is more than a fashion statement for many communities. These people who live in these areas have every right to enforce standards on the young and dumb if parents refuse to.
My oldest son just left the nest a few weeks ago. What he does on his own is now up to him. But, you can bet while he slept under the Plunkett roof and parked his feet under my dinner table he followed certain standards of decorum. If he turns out anything like his old man, he’ll buck the system for a little while before growing to find that the standards he was taught make sense. Then someday, he’ll pass them on to his own children. The rules are not just my rules, they are the rules passed down from generations before. They are embedded in something greater than the right to show your rear-end, a lesson that takes some of us longer to learn than others.
There is a reason many schools find that uniforms work well in downplaying division and delinquency in education. It forces students to focus on learning. Parents and society have the responsibility to force kids to focus on what’s important, and standards of dress are in the toolbox of options that make that happen.
As much as some might like to argue that this is about enforcing style, and rejecting black culture, what we’re talking about is decency. Community standards of decency and decorum are the backbone of the way that people live and work in rural Mississippi towns, and these local governments have every right to promote that way of life, and what they expect of those who hope to reside there.
Frank Corder over at Ya’ll Politics believes this is an issue of freedom, and that conservatives should reject it as legislating morality.
While some view this as indecent exposure or relate it to a prison lifestyle come to the streets, one has to wonder if we are seeking a governmental solution to a societal fashion choice that will run its course as most questionable fads do with time.
Or perhaps what we’re seeing is another example of government gone wild under the guise of what’s perceived as right.
Frank says such laws are outside the scope of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, so conservatives in Mississippi should not support them:
Even more disturbing is that local government is increasing its reach into private lives for what many, even otherwise liberty loving conservatives, see as appropriate. In actuality, it is imposing personal preference on the general public, limiting freedom of choice, and attempting to legislate morality and good judgment, all things the Constitution and the Bill of Rights seeks to prevent
I don’t see anyone proposing a federal ban on sagging, or a mandate from the Justice Department to enforce “belt” laws. We won’t likely be seeing any federal block grants to fund supplying local communities with belts and suspenders to hand out to people who don’t make enough to purchase their own.
What I see are local communities trying to hold youngsters to a higher standard of self respect and decency. That is a task that is both within the law and commendable.
The Tenth Amendment allows that states reserve rights not specifically assigned to the federal government in the Constitution. That federal/state relationship is the bedrock of how our country operates despite regional differences. Ideally, that same relationship would be mimicked in the state government and it’s relationship with municipalities, counties and local governments. In this way community standards maintain and promote diversity.
Mississippi, like most other states, has “public indecency” laws to cover the most egregious offenses, allowing communities to ratchet down further if they so decide.
I know what to expect when I go to the French Quarter, and I know what to expect if I’m on Main Street in Flora. Standards help communities highlight what is important to experience about the place. They are a way for localities to say, “this is who we are.
Some, like Frank’s hometown of Pascagoula, may reject the passage of such protections. But, that choice is a local decision. It shouldn’t keep others from the right of self-rule.
Many communities have standards regarding building codes, architectural guidelines and zoning guidelines to promote what is permissible, to show residents the desire of the greater community, and to promote positive future growth.
Why should we be any less concerned about the future growth of our children?
About Keith: Keith Plunkett has worked on communications issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, governmental agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by going to HorizonMediaMarketing.com or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett
- No Job? Blame Your Pants (abcnews.go.com)
- Not as Good as You Think: MCPP Liberty Luncheon speaker Lance Izumi delivers a sobering message about “affluent” government school districts in Mississippi (mississippipep.wordpress.com)
- ACLU protests proposed ban on saggy pants (onlineathens.com)
- NC mayor pushes for fine, ban on sagging pants (foxnews.com)
Some, like Frank’s hometown of Pascagoula, may reject such laws. But