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Hitch up your britches

Ignorance of the law excuses not.

So, if House Bill 4957 becomes law, those of you who like wearing your pants below your buttocks had best learn where your ileum is, or you could end up facing fines and community service. That’s because the amendment would outlaw the wearing of one’s pants, in public, more than three inches below the “ileum,” exposing skin or underwear.

Actually, this Sidebar reporter believes — though he has not confirmed — that the lawmakers meant the “ilium,” which is basically the upper part of the hip. Our “ileum” is part of our small intestine, though, granted, it appears in a medical diagram to be about even with our hips.

Ilium makes more sense, too, because an officer looking to enforce this law would be hard-pressed to find a reading accurate enough to stand up in city court should he have to prove the placement of a suspected offender’s belt loops in relation to a specific innard. Measuring the distance between hip bone and trousers is much more feasible.

Now, there’s a segment of saggers who conspicuously bind their britches to their kneecaps with a belt, walking whilst hoisting their pantalones with one hand. But when it comes to those ever-so-slightly saggers, how is an officer supposed to know if one has run afoul of the fitting jeans statute? Would he or she carry around a small tape measure, patrolling the streets for ensemble violations like a drill instructor on inspection day?

Who knows. But one subject matter expert, professor Seth Stoughton of the University of South Carolina School of Law, told Lawyers Weekly via Twitter (Yes, Twitter is a perfectly acceptable means of obtaining Sidebar quotes) that if passed, this bill would provide officers looking to detain “certain people” the broad legal authority to do so.

“It is also one of the dumbest laws I’ve seen proposed,” Stoughton wrote. “We don’t need fashion police.”

While there are undoubtedly many who favor the bill (it was co-sponsored by 10 lawmakers) or, at a minimum, don’t care to see some guy’s underthings, Stoughton may have a point. Fashion police are one thing; real police with purported probable cause to search and seize may be another.

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