The city council of Lynwood, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, is the latest to join the crusade against sagging pants. Reports said that the new city ordinance would impose a $35 fine on anyone found to be showing more than three inches of underwear in public.
Mayor Eugene Williams referred to the idea as a "hot topic," presumably referring to the fact that, as we have seen, many other jurisdictions have introduced pant-control laws over the last couple of years, and some of those laws have actually been enacted. The current hero of the movement is probably Chief David Dicks of Flint, Michigan (left) still valiantly fighting to raise waistlines in the nation’s third most dangerous city.
When a man’s right to lower his pants is threatened, the ACLU is often there to defend it, and Lynwood is no exception. Saying that the style is one generally deployed by young men of color (though not always — see above), Ed Yohnka of the ACLU said the law discriminates against them. "This is really the worst kind of racial profiling," he said. Really? I don’t know whether this is racial profiling or not, but if it is, I’m pretty sure it isn’t "the worst kind."
An anonymous commenter on the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s website also alluded to the racial overtones of the debate. "Would the ACLU lodge a complaint if a town [banned] mullets or flannel shirts? " he wrote. "Doubtful." I emailed the Michigan ACLU to ask about this, but as far as I know right now the mullet ban is only a terrifying hypothetical.
Meanwhile, Chief Dicks has defied an ACLU ultimatum that had given him until July 20 to halt his program. "We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing," he said. "I think people are catching on and pulling up their pants." Maybe. But if it does hear from potential plaintiffs who think their rights have been violated, said the ACLU, it will take the case.