_D5C5045brianThe run was long and the shorts were old, and before I even got a half a mile into my weekly constitutional, the damn things were slipping past my hips and threatening to literally expose my ass on the greenway — or, at least, my underwear. Not even actual commandos go running commando style.

I’ll say this: It’s a good thing I wasn’t planning on taking the bus home!

That’s a joke. It’s funny because, after a complaint from a resident during last week’s Greensboro City Council meeting, it looks like council is moving forward on a possible ban of low-hanging waistlines and exposed butt cheeks on public transportation. It’s not a funny joke, because it had to be explained. Also not funny: In the very near future I fear we will be seeing a pants-on-the-ground ordinance that will inevitably have racial undertones and ugly arguments attached.

The kids, my teenager assures me, call it “sagging,” and it most certainly has a strong presence in African-American culture, but only because the school-to-prison pipeline pulls strongest from the black community.

Yep, sagging has its origins in prison. Everybody knows that, right? In jail, you can’t always get a uniform in your size, and nobody gets a belt. As a result, lots of skinny, young, black men in jail had pants that were too big — shirts, too, also evident in the fashion of the day.

The look moved from stir to the street seamlessly and has survived at least one generation. If I were to analyze it, I’d say it’s symbolic of a mooning, an assertion of one’s humanity to the bourgeoisie made to fear him and the elites who systemically keep him down, forcing them confront the fact of their own humanity.

But on another, more visceral level, it’s just some clown with his ass hanging out. I think it’s ridiculous. Form follows function, and sagging defeats the whole purpose of pants.

Still, I prefer to think of it as a First Amendment issue. Though I doubt the saggers are organized enough to mount an opposition, I think that’s their best way to fight.

And we should fight it, too, on general principle. It’s bad enough that we’re running around shushing people on public streets, now we’re demanding that people hike up their pants and tuck their shirts in. Next they’ll be telling us we can’t wear thongs in Center City Park.

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