How much should government be able to regulate how we dress? It’s a question I have been pondering recently, after hearing that some folks in Live Oak would like to ban “sagging.” Now if you don’t know what “sagging” is, you’re not alone. I didn’t either until I did research for this column. On the other hand, I can almost guarantee, unfortunately, that you’ve seen examples of it in our town.

“Sagging” is the term for what most of us old coots would call, “the droopy drawers” fad, where young men wear their trousers well below the belt-line. And I do mean WELL BELOW, giving us a view I think most of us could do without.  In fact, if the “saggers” weren’t wearing underwear (thank God for small favors), we’d say they were “mooning” us.

Now according to my research, “sagging” began to take hold in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when so-called gangster rappers with their anger and violence-filled music became all the rage among many teens. The performers apparently wore their pants in what I’d call “the half-mast position” to copy prison inmates. Not too surprising, considering the public image they wanted to project.  

Still, it amazes me that this form of attire should become so popular among so many of our young! After all, consider what real inmates say. They explain that they HAD to walk around holding up their trousers with one hand, not because they wanted to or because they thought it made them look tough. They “sagged” because prison officials banned belts, fearing they’d be used as either weapons or in suicide attempts.

I’m sorry. While I consider myself fairly open-minded about most pop culture fads, when you consider the stories behind this craze, it has to be the dumbest one to ever take hold in this nation. At least the live goldfish swallowing fad of 1939 had some nutritional value. It actually makes me wonder about the IQs of many of today’s young men. To say that this fad has upset a lot of us is an understatement. It is hard for us to believe that so many of those once little boys, in whom we took so much pride, would think it “cool” as teens and young men to emulate - in any manner - convicted drug dealers, thieves, rapists and murderers. Heck back in 2008, even President Obama weighed in on “sagging” saying, “Brothers, pull up your pants.”

While no Live Oak ordinance banning sagging is currently proposed, if that should change, I have to admit, as much as I hate the fad, I’d be uncomfortable with it. After all, next the government could tell every man in town he had to wear a three piece suit and a tie with a Windsor knot, a revolting thought to any devoted retiree like me. It just goes against the grain. And so, after careful thought, I have come up with what I consider to be a worthwhile compromise to deal with this situation. We shouldn’t ban droopy drawers in Live Oak. Instead, we could regulate them, with the city clerk authorized to sell “sagging licenses.” After all, our fair city can always use another source of revenue.  

Jim lives in Live Oak.

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