Friday, November 16, 2007

Out of the car, long hair!

by Capt. Fogg

That phrase still makes me cringe. Although my hair is short and gray, I still remember when hair not much longer than President Carter later wore in the White House could get you into trouble and sometimes big trouble. In the day of H.R. Haldeman style brush cuts, hair was the enemy of the state and righteous right wing Republicans for social conformity were all for establishing legal limits for male hair length. Even Disney refused entry into fantasy parks to anyone whose hair suggested psychedelic subversiveness. It wasn't even an infrequent thing for a young business executive in a brand new 1969 Brooks Brothers suit and neatly trimmed moustache to be sneered and snickered at and told to "get a job" while walking down Chicago's LaSalle Street.

That was then. Today it's about young slackers wearing enormous clown pants so low their butt cracks and boxer shorts peek nauseatingly at anyone following in their wake. Of course such sartorial protests against conformity are in themselves an equal and opposite conformity and yet advocates of each polarity never seem to understand the futility. Yes, this affectation has already lasted longer than hippie hair or tail fins or Nehru shirts or shoulder pads and seems to be associated more with sociopathic criminality than with hallucinatory enlightenment and world peace, but the US is moving inexorably toward a rabble-driven culture. Language, music and clothing are all part of it. Wearing your hat backwards or exposing your ass to sunburn above a tent of baggy cloth bigger than a central Asiatic Yurt is a social statement as impenetrable to me as M theory or support for George Bush, but legislating against it as a way to make society "the way it used to be" is equally as stupid and contemptuous of freedom.

Riviera Beach, Florida Mayor Thomas Masters is old enough but not smart enough to know better. He wants to make baggy pants illegal and he wants to do it by putting a referendum on the ballot next year. Although the courts have regularly shot down efforts by city councils to legislate clothing and hair length, Masters thinks he can get away with it if the law results from"the will of the voters." The ACLU thinks otherwise. "A referendum doesn't trump the Constitution," says James Green, attorney from the Palm Beach chapter.

Masters (who's also a preacher) and his committee think it's about bringing morality back to the community, although like the Republicans, he thinks morality is another word for the nostalgic authoritarian fantasies of bible pounders. Morality, under this adventure, would be served by jail sentences of up to 60 days for fashion crimes, just as morality undoubtedly has been served by the swing back to shorter hair.

Sorry Tom, what would be served is gang membership, as the folks the young baggy pants offenders will meet in jail aren't going to steer them toward careers in investment banking even if the prison environment does lead them to pull their pants up a little higher.

"what you in for kid?" "Um . . . baggy pants."

I expect that any such exchange is not going to lead toward the prissy church lady morality Masters has in mind, but if there's any point to this at all, it's that nobody ever learns and fixing stupid is as hopeless as it ever was.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous rockync said...

My objection to the baggy pants is that it is a public indecency to show your bare ass for all the world to see; including underage girls. It is for that reason alone I think they should be fined. What people do in a private area such as their back yard or a private club, I could care less, but there should be a limit to what the general public must endure.
That being said, since most communities have laws against public indecency, there should be no need to write yet another law against baggy pants.
The most stupid thing about the baggy pants is that if you watch any episode of Cops from anywhere in the country, there is always some criminal running from the cops who invariably gets caught when his pants fall down around his ankles! DUH!

3:50:00 PM  
Anonymous swampcracker said...

Evenin' Captain. To mangle a phrase from Herman Melville: "Stupid is as stupid does."

From what I have read about the baggy pants phenomenon, it is an expression of solidarity by young blacks on the street for blacks in prisons, whose numbers are disproportionate to the general population. Baggy pants, from what I understand, is what you get when prison authorities take away the belt that holds up the pants. In this respect, solidarity is also a form a protest.

Of course, I don't like baggy pants anymore than you. Yet, the free speech argument is compelling and hard to ignore.

There is a political science prof who blogs as a neo-conservative (I won't name names because he is insufferably arrogant and has not yet mastered the subtle art of civilized discourse). I mention him in passing only because his current research project is to demonstrate how black culture is self-defeating. While there may be some truth to his thesis, I would say he is the wrong person to conduct this research. I would prefer, for instance, a Bill Cosby or Oprah Winfrey as an impetus for such research for any number of reasons.

If a white neo-conservative prof does this research, it will be rejected and debunked by the black community no matter how valid any research results might be. It will be termed "racist." In fact, I can foresee Prof. X getting a visit from the Reverands Al and Jesse for a lesson on political correctness. Nor would it offend my sensibilities to have an arrogant neo-con prof enjoy the sublime experience of Day Spa waterboarding.

Furthermore, I do think there are concerned spokespersons within the black community who are better equipped to address these issues. We should welcome any such initiatives, but keep hands off ourselves.

4:22:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

If it is an expression of solidarity, then it will be all the more effective if the people who it's designed to piss off make a fuss about it. People still wear their hair long and many for that reason.

It seems as though during my lifetime, each generation asserts itself by being obnoxious, disrespectful and condescending to the previous one. I think it's an American problem rather than an ethnic one and a symptom of the divisiveness that defines our society much to the benefit of certain profiteers.

Florida communities have tried to make it illegal to go shirtless and I remember that some California town tried to prevent overweight women from wearing shorts. I love it when people like that are defeated.

10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I think the baggy pants thing is stupid but I also remember when people were just as horrified because women stopped wearing bras.

Fogg is right. Every generation has searched for a way to rebel against the social norm, some are more dumb than others but it's usually young kids and most do grow out of it. I think the real problem is the kids who adopt this style are usually extraordinarily rude. I blame the schools for treating kids so disrespectfully that they grow up without respect for adults.

Bottom line is we need to make less stuff illegal, not more. The legislation is dumber than the behavior.

9:20:00 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

in maricopa county arizona sherrif joe arpaio has a hilarious clip of his deputies chasing kids all sagged out. the pants drop, the kids trip, the deputies pile on.

then sherrif joe, surrounded by deputies tells the camera "we love sagging pants. keep up the good work."

9:46:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Minstrel

Circus clowns used to dress better, it's true. Makes me feel better about the bell bottoms I used to wear. If someone really wanted to be a gangster, they'd buy a suit and and run for congress.

It's not just the schools, I think. Our whole culture makes young people think the world is about them and that they know everything. That way they buy more stuff. Countercultures have a way of becoming big business.

For my generation I think it was all over when you could buy your hippie clothes at sears and remain part of the middle class. Of course it's really over now that Led Zeppelin does Cadillac commercials and canned heat sells corn flakes.

Nobody ever really beats the system.

10:46:00 PM  
Blogger cognitorex said...

PANDORA'S THONG
.
Is the Islamic Women's Vote all that it's cracked up to be?

The Setting: a MIDDLE EAST WOMEN'S RIGHTS RALLY: an Arabic Mother & Daughter are speaking as Laura Bush approaches the podium.


Mom: Doesn't Mrs. Bush look lovely? She somehow reminds me of Mary Tyler Moore.

Dghtr: You actually know other American rights' activists?

Mom: (laughing) Oh no. Mary Tyler Moore is a TV character. She represents an ideal, a woman who works and of course votes yet knows exactly where women's rights end and "pushy" begins.

Dghtr: If you say so Mom, but speaking of rights, can I get a thong?

Mom: A what? A thong?

Dghtr: You know, underwear. Like Brittany and Madonna wear. The single strip up your bum. I want a bright red camel thong.

Mom: (momentarily thinking) ....And a tattoo to match, right?

Dghtr: That would be nice.

Mom: And all this would be followed by your Father giving his blessing for your Brother to marry his buddy Gamel...?

Dghtr: (In great consternation) Mother!

Mom: (aside) Perhaps we shouldn't have come here.

END

dry cleaners protest thongs, social change, veils and thongs, cognitorex, butt cleavage

9:24:00 AM  

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