Louisiana panel blocks anti-droopy pants bill

April 23, 2008 4:53:31 AM PDT
A state Senate panel rejected a bill on Tuesday that would make it a crime to wear one's pants too low, even as Cajun-country towns around Louisiana have been banning saggy pants from their streets.

Sen. Derrick Shepherd's bill would have made it illegal to wear, in public, clothing that "intentionally exposes undergarments or intentionally exposes any portion of the pubic hair, cleft of the buttocks or genitals." Violators would have faced a fine of up to $175 and eight days of community service.

Exceptions included thong swim suits and clothing worn in fashion shows.

Sen. Yvonne Dorsey said she disliked the look of baggy pants but wanted to defend the public's right to wear their clothes as they wish.

"When we begin to take the freedom of speech away ... I think we're doing something that's just not right," said Dorsey, a Democrat.

Shepherd said the state should take a stand against droopy pants, which he called just one example of widespread indecency in contemporary clothing styles.

"The shorts are getting shorter, the tops are getting smaller, the cleavage is getting larger," said Shepherd, also a Democrat. "When are we going to say, 'Enough is enough'?"

With no objection, the Senate judiciary panel voted against moving the measure to the floor.

Shepherd tried and failed to pass a similar bill in 2004, but the measure died in the face of opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union.

About a dozen Louisiana towns and cities have enacted or are considering bans on saggy pants.

The style is believed to have started in prisons, where inmates are issued ill-fitting jumpsuits but no belts to prevent hangings and beatings. The look was popularized in gangster rap videos.