2011-06-01 23:03 Sagging pants, cleavage and tatoos - oh the humanity
Post date: Jul 25, 2011 1:29:31 AM
So Fort Worth public buses have a new policy they're enforcing: no more sagging pants.
It isn't a law, there are indecency laws that aren't infringed on by sagging pants, but they have a policy about shirts and shoes and now sagging pants. It seems that the common consensus is that it is a good thing since sagging pants are rude that the buses should be able to prohibit them.
I am of mixed emotions about this. I'm firmly for the right for an independent business to create and enforce a dress code, but I think there is a lot of public funding for public transportation and that makes it different in my mind. I believe that public policy should be determined by a public forum and I haven't seen any indication that is the case here.
It almost sounds like "if we the few people who have management of a public service don't like something, we have the right to operate on the public's behalf without the public's input to enforce our opinion of what is proper." Visible tattoos are considered by many to be offensive as are nose and eyebrow piercing. Weird hair is obviously offensive to many. I have trouble seeing why sagging jeans are the only thing that they should be allowed to ban if they can decide this one.
Several people have expressed disgust that they might be subjected to the sight of an uncovered rump. I must confess, I too prefer not to see such a sight but we have laws for indecency that cover that the same as we have laws that distinguish between cleavage and uncovered breasts. I find it hard to believe that a policy against women wearing tops that expose cleavage, bra straps or might possibly result in accidental breast exposure would find the same public support.
Lest you think I'm exaggerating, consider this proposed law (not Fort Worth):
"The proposed ordinance would also bar women from showing the strap of a thong beneath their pants. They would also be prohibited from wearing jogging bras in public or show a bra strap, Seagraves said." (source:http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,294269,00.html)
Really it boils down to a question not of what we consider rude or obscene, but who gets to make the rules. I think I'm okay with the legislative process handling the question when it comes to public funded organisations. I really don't think it is a stretch to imagine that the next rule could be against uncovered tattoos. We have such a policy where I work and I support the right of my workplace to determine that policy. Their business is their business. No sagging pants, no uncovered tattoos, no unconventional hair, no unconventional piercings: our policy and our business and my employers make the rules. I abide by them and support their right to make the rules.
Public transport is the business of the public and I'm a little concerned that the the process for public decisions was ignored in this case.
The courts can and are handling this question in other places: