While the rest of the country clamors for gun control, South Carolina lawmakers have chosen to home in on the real issues, like banning baggy pants.
According to WLTX 19, House Bill 4957 would make it illegal “for a person to expose their skin or underwear by wearing their pants ‘three inches below the crest of his ileum.’”
The hell is an ileum? It’s the top of the hips, apparently.
Yes, the South Carolina Legislature wants to mandate midrise pants, but don’t worry, it’s completely not racist or intended to target minorities, says one of the bill’s co-sponsors, state Rep. Joe Jefferson.
“It’s unbecoming, it’s unprofessional,” said Jefferson, a black Democrat from Berkeley County. He pointed out that if someone is “caught” with baggy pants, it wouldn’t encumber them from going to college or getting grants or loans.
“It’s no more than a warning to allow these fellas to be more responsible,” Jefferson said. “It is not just targeting African-American men. I see men of all races walking around with this same problem. It is just disingenuous; we should not have this. There ought to be a better way.”
Interestingly, WLTX 19’s video on the story only showed young black men as examples of people rocking their pants too low.
And the “warning,” as Jefferson puts it, comes in the form of a fine. As WLTX 19 reports, the proposed fines are $25 for a first offense, $50 or three hours of community service for the second, and $75 or six hours of community service for any offense thereafter.
The fines and community service requirements are far from innocuous. These sorts of penalties have long been disproportionately levied on vulnerable communities—take the 2015 Justice Department report on police in Ferguson, Mo., which found that law enforcement had become a “plundering collection agency.”
Of course, a fine doesn’t need to be about black people in order to disproportionately target them. Winter spares no one in Chicago, yet somehow, black neighborhoods get hit with a disproportionate amount of winter-related tickets than others do.
The proposed South Carolina bill, under the guise of protecting respectability and professionalism, is just another way to literally police the bodies of the young black men who will likely be the ones doling out most of the fines (or providing the South Carolina government with free labor in the way of community service). It’s important to note that these offenses don’t occur in isolation—one can be pulled over or brought aside for wearing one’s pants too low, only to have the situation or charges escalate.
The bill, which has bipartisan support, has been referred to the South Carolina Judiciary Committee. This is the same Legislature that has stalled on closing the “Charleston loophole” that allowed Dylann Roof to purchase a gun, and which recently approved a bill that would allow South Carolinians to carry guns, concealed and in the open, without a permit.
But, you know, gotta keep your eyes on motherfuckers’ ileums.