Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Virginia Jumps on the Low Riding Wagon 

Virginia Delegate Algie T. Howell has gotten approval from the House of Delegates on his bill (HB 1981) to impose a $50 fine on anyone wearing low slung pants that reveal the person's underwear. The bill passed 60-34, and is now headed for the state Senate. He must have been inspired by the efforts of Louisiana state Representative Derrick Shepperd.

Delegate Lionell Spruill, Sr. protested the proposed bill at length during the legislative session.

Here is the text of the bill:
Any person who, while in a public place, intentionally wears and displays his below-waist undergarments, intended to cover a person's intimate parts, in a lewd or indecent manner, shall be subject to a civil penalty of no more than $50. "Intimate parts" has the same meaning as in ยง 18.2-67.10.

So if the undergarments must be "intentionally" displayed, that lets off the hook any workers whose pants are inadvertently lowered by the weight of their toolbelts. How will they prove intent on this? If the Fashion Police (which would be literal if the bill were to become law) stop you, couldn't you just say, "Oops, sorry officer. I hadn't noticed. You see, I've lost a lot of weight recently, and haven't yet been able to afford better fitting garments." What about beachwear? Would those qualify as "undergarments, intended to cover a person's intimate parts?" What makes a Speedo acceptable while the elastic band on a pair of boxers is not?
UPDATE (1:46 pm): Additional thought - The person's undergarments cover up the "intimate parts" just as well as do the outer garments, perhaps better, depending on the particular material of the outer garments. Where exactly is the assault on public decency? What if I had a pair of pants custom made entirely out of boxer short material? Nothing more would be visible than if the boxers themselves were visible, but I'm guessing that as long as they were pulled up, I'd be okay. Perhaps the next step will be mandatory restrictions on type of material used and the number of layers required.
UPDATE (2/11/05, 10:33 am): The bill died by unanimous vote in Senate committee yesterday, at a standing-room only hearing.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:30 AM