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How low is too low?

Sunday Sound-off: Should MPS ban sagging pants?

Since before the introduction of blue suede shoes, it has been the job of teenagers to cross fashion boundaries. And why shouldn't they? Without the limitations of a professional dress code and the intense desire to visually separate from the older and squarer, teens are the ideal candidates to make fashion statements.

Most of us made at least one fashion statement as teenagers, whether it was a spiky mohawk, facial piercing or something more subtle like safety-pinning the cuffs of our jeans. But when, if ever, do the fashion police need to step in?

Take sagging pants, for instance. Many adults cannot fathom why a person -- usually a teenaged male -- would choose to walk around with pants cinched around their thighs and boxers or briefs exposed.

It's believed that sagging started in prisons, where inmates were issued ill-fitting uniforms without belts (because of the risk of suicide) and the trend traveled beyond the Big House via hip-hop.

Recently in Louisiana, Shreveport and Alexandria city councils banned sagging pants in public schools. Under the ordinance, a Shreveport student with sagging pants would face community service or a $100 fine for a first offense, and in Alexandria, some sagging is tolerated, but pants exposing more than three inches results in a $200 fine.

In the Milwaukee Public Schools, sagging rules vary from school to school. Few schools tolerate super-low pants. But do you think MPS should ban sagging altogether?

Yes. MPS should ban sagging pants because, in short, sagging pants are ridiculous. They are overtly sexually suggestive and a distraction to other students. Plus, teens shouldn't practice a trend that originated in prison, but most of all, sagging looks stupid.

No. MPS has no right to enforce such a rule because sagging pants don't expose any "private parts." The right to fashion is a freedom we enjoy in this country along with all the others. Adults will always question the fashion of the younger folk, and forbiddance is never the answer.

Talkbacks

isthisamerica | Nov. 10, 2008 at 10:01 a.m. (report)

Is no one else deeply concerned by this? Yes, of course I agree that sagging pants looks ridiculous. But you have to remember, this is America were talking about, where everyone has the right to express themselves in any way that they want to. It is our first amendment right. These kids are expressing themselves just like those kids in bell bottoms were expressing themselves. You cant ban it simply because the message has changed. Its simply unconstitutional. This ordinance wouldnt stand up 5 days in a wealthy white neighborhood. The courts would throw it right out. These harmful ordinances are thought up by crotchety old people who are completely out of touch, not only with our youth, but with our constitutional rights. Pretty soon you'll have old miss sanders down the street saying shes offended by backwards baseball caps. Then senile Mr. Wolsworth will try to impose a law that all women must wear knee length dresses in public. And honestly, do you think changing their clothes is going to change the crime rate? Thats like saying banning the confederate flag would stop racism. Whats next? Force all the youth to wear uniforms in public? Hitler tried that - straightened those NAZI youths right out

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CityMom | Sept. 6, 2007 at 8:19 a.m. (report)

Instead of banning bagging pants, can't some creative agency come up with a TV ad that shows what these kids really look like from a distance: physically disabled teens? I can't tell you how many times I thought someone was disabled 'cuz they were walking slow & awkward until I got up close. Maybe I could have my 6 yr. old tap them on the shoulder & try to get them to run fast without tripping. GAWD, I didn't realize how OLD I sound until now.... I'm just waiting for super-tight pants to come back in vogue. Then we'll be missing those bagging pants!

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mitchgat | Sept. 4, 2007 at 8:25 a.m. (report)

Parents should ban sagging pants. MPS is blamed for far too many of the problems it faces. Without parents, whose job it is to instill self worth and common sense into their child, MPS will continue to have problems, the least of which are sagging pants.

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kman8900 | Sept. 3, 2007 at 5:05 p.m. (report)

If we are concerned about baggy pants and what to do with them, are we missing all the murders and shootings going on (in select parts of our city)? What is ANYBODY saying about this complete neighborhood breakdown? Where is your article on this? Oh, that's right, we don't talk about such "delicate" topics around here. I'll turn the other way too....

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rikitiki | Sept. 3, 2007 at 10:10 a.m. (report)

It is important to keep in mind that schools are learning institutions first and social outlets second. I think that this is often lost in the never ending argument of student "rights". The schools are funded by tax payers dollars with the idea that this enormous investment in a childs education will benefit us all llater on. To that end, any distraction in the classroom that would deter a students ability to learn the required course material should be banned. It has been shown that schools that require uniforms have higher achieving students. I have heard students comment that they would welcome the requiremnt of uniforms because of this very reason. The sagging pants issue is most likely a problem a small minority and should be dealt as such. I do not think that this would squash the abundance of individualism so prevalent in America's teens. Students can easliy express this part of their personality outside the classroom and in the company of others that except it. This is not unique - I graduated from high school in 1970 and we were not allowed to wear jeans to school for the same reasons.

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