By Louis Avallone
A FASHION POLICE STATE
You’ve heard about this, right? Caddo Parish District 3 Commissioner Michael Williams wants to pass an ordinance in Caddo Parish to prohibit the wearing of pajama pants in public. Apparently, he was offended during a recent shopping trip to his neighborhood grocery store, wherein a group of young men, wearing pajama pants and house shoes, but apparently not any undergarments, were revealing more of themselves than Commissioner Williams, and several elderly patrons, cared to see.
And even though Caddo Parish Sherriff Steve Prator commented that such an ordinance would be “difficult to enforce as it’s described”, and despite the ordinance being blatantly unconstitutional, I’m with Commissioner Williams in saying that we ought to preserve a minimum amount of decorum in our community. From baggy pants, to wearing pants below the waist, too many folks just aren’t willing to put forth the amount of effort, or time, that is required to dress appropriately.
Some might say what Commissioner Williams is touching upon is the concept of a negative halo effect: when you look sloppy, you therefore think sloppy, feel sloppy, and act sloppy. This decline, or lowering of standards, simply makes it easier to no longer find the need to look nice, act nice, or be nice. It becomes more comfortable then, and acceptable, to simply ascribe to the lowest common denominator.
Indeed, what are folks aspiring to become when their clothing style is inspired by the beltless pants worn by prison inmates? I mean, there are countless prison inmates who would scarcely identify entering prison as one of life’s goals, or whom they themselves would not make different choices if they had the opportunity to do it all over again.
And yes, it’s disrespectful too, and in some cases, it’s indecent. It’s unconscionable that some folks are so unconcerned – so disconnected from reality – that they don’t realize how their “freedom of expression” might affect the most impressionable and vulnerable in our society – our children. As Bill Cosby commented several years ago, “Are you not paying attention people, with their hat on backwards, pants down around the crack…people putting their clothes on backwards…isn’t that a sign of something going on wrong?”
But can we legislate politeness? Or respectfulness? How about style, or manners? No, we cannot legislate the lessons that should be taught in the home – first and foremost – around a dinner table. It’s inappropriate for government, and just plain unconstitutional as well. Proposed ordinances like the pajamas prohibition are unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. There are countless U.S. Supreme Court cases that support this conclusion.
Still, there are many communities, including Shreveport, who continue to pass unconstitutional ordinances, such as prohibiting the wearing of pants below the waist (which expose the skin or undergarments). So, why pass these ordinances if they are unconstitutional?
Well, too often politicians pass laws that they know are unconstitutional (they’ll leave it up to the courts to decide). Sometimes this is done to pander to the demands of voters, or to help themselves or their cronies, or all of the above.
Sometimes their intentions are sincere, and less insidious. Nevertheless, the result is often the same: Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent defending unconstitutional laws, not to mention the enforcement cost by local law officials. Worst of all, many of these bad laws are never challenged in the courts because of the deep financial resources needed by the citizens in order to do so.
The bottom line is that the arguable decline of standards in society is merely symptomatic of decades of liberal political pandering to the virtue of tolerance. It portrays conservatives as closed-minded and judgmental, on a variety of social issues, when we ought to be having a “come to Jesus” dialogue about what’s right and working, and what’s not and broken, in our communities.
You see, maybe tolerance isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be. Here’s what I mean: John F. Kennedy said that, “Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs.” Others have written that, “Tolerance is another word for indifference.” Even Ghandi said that, “Tolerance implies a gratuitous assumption of the inferiority of other faiths to one’s own”.
Is it tolerant to ban prayer in the school, or protect abortion as a fundamental right? Of course not. You see, liberals view tolerance as less about respect, or letting people do whatever they want, and more about political correctness and control, all at the expense of common sense and liberty.
Now, we may have a generation of Americans who believe that merely having the “right” to do “something” is somehow the moral equivalent of having permission to do it. That’s just not the case.
In fact, our modern-day society is tolerant of some behavior when we should actually be condemning it. Too many take the view that no singular point of view on moral and religious issues is objectively correct for every person. That may be fair to say, but society cannot abandon its tried and true standards altogether, just for the sake of “tolerance” and nothing more.
And this bring us back to why Commissioner Williams wants to propose an ordinance to establish the very standards that parenting should have established to begin with. He agrees that the “real power is parenting power”, and that starts at home.
That’s where we’ll begin our journey, to restore the responsible society Commissioner Williams is longing for. So, let’s get dressed, packed, and get going. Just pull up your pants first, please.