What’s legal might not be what’s attractive, but sagging pants are lawful fashion in Lafayette.
The City-Parish Council Public Safety Committee opted against any effort to regulate low-riding pants that expose skin or underwear.
“I can only imagine someone calling 911 and saying, ‘Someone is walking by my house sagging,’ ” Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux said.
Boudreaux said he brought up the topic because he has received increasing complaints about sagging from community members who find low-riding pants distasteful and disrespectful.
We are sympathetic to the complainers. Standards slip, and pretty soon it is underwear or more on view, whether fellow residents want to see them or not.
The councilman and police expressed uneasiness about any effort to regulate low-riding pants.
Other cities and parishes in the state have made wearing sagging pants in public a criminal offense — laws passed despite concerns raises by the American Civil Liberties Union and others about racial profiling and freedom of expression.
Interim Police Chief Reginald Thomas shared those concerns with the Lafayette council. “This basically would hurt us,” Thomas said. “To me, you have to be careful because it could be profiling.”
Laws against sagging pants were a trend a few years ago, when a string of cities and parishes passed anti-sagging measures, including Crowley, Ville Platte, Iberville Parish and Terrebonne Parish. Fines can rise as high as $1,000 for a third offense.
The state Legislature twice considered but ultimately rejected state laws to ban sagging pants.
As Thomas pointed out, decency in dress might be addressed by business owners, who are free to develop their own dress codes. “That can easily be enforced by their security,” the chief said.
Moral suasion is going to go only so far in dealing with the tasteless, and we have no great hopes that there will be an easy solution to this problem. But given the more pressing challenges facing governments everywhere, a new and difficult-to-enforce ordinance would seem to be majoring on the minors by local politicos.
Earnestly, we do hope and devoutly we do pray that this fashion trend will pass away, one day. But the council made the right call on the idea of an ordinance.