Notes on Dallas' Attempt to Outlaw Saggin'

Some residents of Dallas, Texas are sick and tired of the low-hanging pants look called "saggin'." In fact, the city's Deputy Mayor Pro Tem, Dwaine Caraway, proposed to outlaw saggin' pants. Weekend Edition essayist Diane Roberts ponders the mysteries of saggin' and muses on attempts to control people's dress.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Some residents of Dallas, Texas are sick and tired of the low-hanging-pants look called saggin'. In fact, the city's deputy mayor pro tem, Dwaine Caraway, proposed to outlaw saggin' pants. That idea ran into some freedom of expression issues. But the effort continues. A local hip-hop artist has even recorded a song that raps on the uncoolness of saggin'.

WEEKEND EDITION essayist Diane Roberts considers the problem.

DIANE ROBERTS: It's flat-out shocking - I mean, young men wearing their breeches down around their knees. It's anti-American. It's anti-gravity. Actually, I guess it's pro-gravity, but that's beside the point. And it's not as if we don't have anything else to worry about. What - with terrorism, global warming, economic cooling, the national debt, Jenna's engagement, Brad splitting up with Angelina, and the revelation that Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore is gay - why should citizens be subjected to unsolicited views of a person's boxers or unwelcomed manifestations of booty?

We've seen this kind of disrespect before. In the 1790s, young men called Incroyable ran around Paris, frightening decent people with their tight pants and their weird haircuts. Their favorite do was la victime, as in victim of the guillotine. It was short in back and long on the sides, sort of anti-mullet.

The girlfriends were the Merveilleuse, which is French for totally hot babes. The future empress, Josephine, ran with this bunch, which tells you a lot about France. The Merveilleuse sported diaphanous dresses slid up to here and cut down to wherever. The Merveilleuse would dampen the fabric so the muslin would cling to their new-bow(ph) bodies. Even worse, they'd go commando, without so much as a petticoat under their - and you all thought Brittney was bad.

In 1795, the Jacobins arrested Incroyable for sartorial affronts to the French people. Under Queen Elizabeth I, you could get busted for wearing the wrong kind of rough.

In the 19th century, certain American states made it a crime for women to wear trousers. I say we take a stand, here and now, against the scourge of saggin'. I'm all for the soon-to-be hip-hop classic "Pull Yo' Pants Up" by Mr. Dooney Da' Priest.

But let's get Washington involved. The U.S. government spends all that time and money spying on people when they're making overseas phone call just because they use phrases like suicide bomb, the mall, and Dick Cheney. Why not create a CIA, FBI, Psi-ops, fashion police special unit? Or if they're all too busy, I hear Blackwater will soon be looking for a new gig.

HANSEN: Diane Roberts issues fashion citations in Tallahassee, Florida.

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