Problem of saggy-pants "much bigger" than Constitution, says Mayor


Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Frank Melton says that even though the city council voted against an ordinance making it unlawful for people to wear saggy pants he still intends to issue an executive order enforcing the dress code. The city council voted 4-2 against the ordinance, saying it was unconstitutional.

"I certainly respect the Constitution," Melton said, "but we have some issues that are much bigger than the Constitution."

I'm not going to argue with him. Anyone smart enough to fold a handkerchief like that (see above pic) must know what he's talking about. Here are a few simpler ones you can try.

(Via The Agitator)


  1. Who were the two people that voted FOR his ordinance? Why aren’t they hanged by the neck until death by now.

    And wow, that’s an awesome hanky, it has one more point than a normal one!!!

  2. Sagging outweighs the Constitution? He couldn’t have meant that…could he? I mean, this guy got elected…


    Well, yeah, but Jackson is a lot bigger than Wasilla. He can’t be quite THAT much of a moron, can he?

    Seriously, anybody who thinks his distaste for sagging is more important than the Constitution is dangerous, as in “danger to self or others.”

  3. Technically, he is correct.

    Pants are larger than the constitution. Easily remedied of course, you just print the constitution bigger.

    And they say civil liberties are complex, puh-shaw.

  4. Melton has a lot more to worry about than baggy pants. He’s currently the defendant in a federal trial alleging that he and a gang of his thugs knocked down someone’s house with sledgehammers after designating it a “crack house”.

    Melton keeps having “health problems” that are delaying the trial. It’s a circus, and I suspect that this baggy pants thing is just another exercise in distraction.

  5. When I am Dictator of the Universe, any politician who says anything along the lines of “this problem is bigger than the Constitution!” would be immediately removed from office and not allowed to run again until they’d passed a civics course of my choosing.

    Preliminary Syllabus:
    Class session 1: Why This Problem Is Not, In Fact, “Bigger Than The Constitution” (And Neither Was The Last Problem, Or The One Before That)
    Class session 2: There’s A Reason The First Amendment Comes First

  6. I’ve seen that before; it’s five separate handkerchiefs, with a bespoke compression pocket to accommodate them.

  7. “anyone smart enough to fold a handkerchief like that” ha.

    I come from Alabama, where we often see similar mayoral ridiculousness. It’s all done in the name of respectable values, of course…

  8. Thanks for the link, #10:

    The call came about a day after local news reported on the mayor injuring his hand during a late Saturday-night visit to the Upper Level Nightclub […]

    After a second call came in alleging the mayor and his cohorts had obliterated a house on Ridgeway Street, the reporter grabbed his motorcycle helmet and drove to 1305 Ridgeway St. […]

    The reporter asked a neighbor what happened.

    “The mayor happened,” said the neighbor, speaking anonymously. “The mayor come here with some police and tore this place down.” […]

    [T]he neighborhood was in consensus: Mayor Frank Melton and some people with him, some suspected to be teenagers, used hammers or heavy blunt objects to tear holes in the building.

    There was no sign of the occupant, the mentally ill Evans Welch…


  9. Easily remedied of course, you just print the constitution bigger.

    They should have had John Hancock transcribe a copy for them, I hear the King could read Hancock’s signature on the DoI all the way from England!

  10. That list sorta blew my mind. How the frig is that guy still in power? That stuff should be from a tv show, not real life…goddamn.

    Quite. The man appears to be a megalomaniac criminal of the first order and should have been prosecuted and jailed a long time ago. But, considering who is still President as of today…well, I guess there is president.

  11. Yay, Jackson. So proud to call it my hometown.

    Melton is incredibly awesome. I think that deep below his alleged psychological issues and low IQ is an entertainer at heart. He was a former TV Station owner and he knows there isn’t much going on in Jackson. Therefore he has taken it upon himself to create something for the local news to report.

    My favorite was when he tried to board a plane with a gun. His reasoning, he was friggin mayor.

    All true.

  12. For years (maybe since the earliest civilizations that had indoor plumbing) PLUMBERS walked around with saggy pants and their butt cracks exposed and nobody cared (or at least nobody said anything to them about it.) Now that those damn teenagers think it’s cool to look like your clothes don’t fit it has become an issue.

    Don’t worry, like every fad it will eventually fade and we will laugh about it. (And to think when I was a kid we were embarrassed when our parents bought clothes we were supposed to “grow into.”)

  13. please arrange the following in order of relative size

    -the Beatles
    -saggy pants
    -the Constitution
    -napkins featuring non-euclidean geometry

  14. When I am Dictator of the Universe, any politician who says anything along the lines of “this problem is bigger than the Constitution!” would be immediately removed from office and not allowed to run again until they’d passed a civics course of my choosing.

    Sissy. When it’s MY turn to be DotU, any politician who says something like that will be sodomized with a rolled-up copy of the Constitution. One of MGFarrelly’s “printed bigger” copies. That should give them more of an appreciation for how big the Constitution is.

  15. Yeah? Well, when I’M DotU, any politician who says ANYTHING about ANYTHING, no matter how reasonable, will be FISTED by HELLBOY (right hand).

    With a copy of the Constitution in his hand, of course.

  16. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m voting for Xopher for DotU next election. I like his ideas.

  17. @29
    Some people just genuinely find it more comfortable. I know adults who are really good, intelligent people and wear baggy/saggy pants (and some who prefer all their clothes to be loose).
    Especially larger gents… when your waist is larger than your hips, a belt would commonly be uncomfortably tight… and, I mean, there are still lower-rise pants, but no-one wants to see a big guy in those.
    Plus, if we get too far into the discussion, there’s not much other than tradition making ‘fitting’ trousers any better than baggy/saggy pants. People who like loose pants have just as much cause to laugh at people with fitting pants as vice-versa, really.
    But, if you want to be the sort who judges someone by how they wear their clothes, by all means, go right ahead.

  18. When I am Dictator of the Universe, any politician who says anything along the lines of “this problem is bigger than the Constitution!” would be immediately removed from office and not allowed to run again until they’d passed a civics course of my choosing.

    That sounds unconstitutional. But then, the problem of politicians saying “this problem is bigger than the Constitution!” is bigger than the Constitution.

  19. I don’t know Xopher, Rob, Lexica… does the Constitution allow for a Dictator of the Universe? Also, I’d imagine your proposed punishments might fall into the “cruel and unusual” category. Oh, hey! Unless we can get all politicians classified as terrorists. Terrorists deserve parchment sodomy! That would be sweet.

    Hizzonner’s obviously a dangerous nutjob, but I can see why the city likes him… he seems like an incredibly entertaining dangerous nutjob, the kind of dangerous nutjob that BUILT this country, by Jupiter. He’d be right there directing his bodyguard-turned assistant police chief and gang of teenage thugs-turned unofficial and possibly illegal foster kids to THROW THAT TEA INTO THE SEA. You know he would.

  20. (Takuan #9) celebrates “free minds”, which most assuredly applies to Melton, though not in a way the site appreciates. How many AA public figures manage to piss off the ACLU, NAACP and the NRA simultaneously? Love to buy him dinner and see what he would like to do were there no interference from sane people.

  21. Another former Jacksonian here. Frank decided on his own that since he was mayor, he could carry a pistol and wear body armor and go on law enforcement style raids. There are those who claim he was intoxicated on the occasion of at least one raid. He also served as head of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics for a time. Here’s a timeline of that episode. He’s obviously not above lies and defamation and then lying again under oath repeatedly to save his own hide.

    Remember, this is a man who has no law enforcement training or credentials.

    Frank talks tough and has for many, many years. Often his tough stance puts him at odds with the law and he’s about to reap what he has sown in Jackson. I’m not surprised that he feels qualified to pontificate on issues he thinks are beyond the scope of the Constitution. I’m also not surprised that he would brush off legality concerns over an issue like baggy pants.

    He is a man who knows when he needs a hug, though. He also knows how to get them.

    I was at a civic gathering in Jackson about twelve years ago, and Frank was in attendance. He was managing a television affiliate at the time and was well known for his “Bottom Line” segment, in which he would, for example, call out drug dealers by name and say that he was “coming for them”. He assured about ten of us at that gathering that he had no political aspirations and would not care to be mayor of Jackson.

    I wish now that he had kept his word on that. I’m embarrassed for my home town because of the shape of things there, and I lay a lot of blame at Frank’s feet. The Saggy Pants Situation is only one of many symptoms of the larger problems in Jackson. Getting people to pull up their pants in Jackson is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

    It’s sad, sad, sad.

  22. Well, since the Constitution is self-describing, by Gödel’s theorem it must be either incorrect or incomplete. So you need something outside the Constitution to enforce the Constitution.

    There’s no such thing as a Constitutional Dictator. I mean, get real. And the Dictator of the Universe isn’t even bound by NATURAL law, let alone human law. Therefore decrees by the DotU are not subject to Constitutional review; in my case, the Constitution is something I impose on The People, not something I have to follow myself.

    And fistings by Hellboy are certainly NOT cruel and unusual. Given how much politicians talk, they won’t be unusual at all, and cruel…well, who’s going to say they’re cruel? You? Hey, Hellboy, come help me with this guy.

  23. “Continuity: When Hellboy is walking at one point, holding his gun up in his left, gloved hand (just after one of the agents has said “This place is like swiss cheese”), watch the frame. It switches suddenly so his right hand (the stone one) is his left, and he’s holding the gun in his “right.”

  24. When did people with the mentality of a dick high school principle start getting elected to actual civic duty in this country? We still have a long way to go before sanity and basic decency are restored, it seems.

    And yes. Can has all Hellboy break loose on this guy already? (Xopher, you are my hero of the day, though Nehpetse gets honorable mention. Skep, the word you were looking for is precedent.) =D

  25. Takuan, del Toro has stated that he flipped the frame left-to-right on purpose, because he… Oh, I forget why, exactly, but it’s mentioned specifically in the commentary track.

  26. Obama said such laws were “a waste of time,” but didn’t hold back on his own view on the fad.

    “Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants,” he declared. “You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What’s wrong with that? Come on.”

    “Some people might not want to see your underwear – I’m one of them,” he added.

  27. I don’t want to see their underwear either. In fact, I think guys who wear their waistbands around mid-thigh should not be allowed to WEAR underwear.

    Seriously, sometimes I wonder if these guys know what it is they’re showing off…and to whom.

  28. If this had passed, would they have had to legally define “saggy”? Would you need to be sure there was less than a certain amount of inches between your waist and pants? How the hell would you enforce this?

  29. i believe that they just wanna grab hold of their own dicks. that grab-on-wiener is the only thing holdin them bad boys up!

  30. Antinous, no I don’t, and I bet they don’t talk so much about the bits I look at.

    Tak, yes, though every single sagger I’ve mentioned it to has vigorously denied that any such thing is intended or could possibly be the origin of their beloved fashion.

  31. “When did people with the mentality of a dick high school principle start getting elected to actual civic duty in this country?”

    Since forever.

    “We still have a long way to go before sanity and basic decency are restored, it seems.”

    Restored to what? It’s always been this way. You just couldn’t see it before. Barney Fife has always been the sheriff of Mayberry.

  32. I think it comes from “just out of prison” chic. Some bigshot criminals lost weight in prison, and their pants didn’t fit when they got out, so back in the 80s thugs (in both senses) started wearing their pants all baggedy so people would THINK they just got out of prison and were thus tough guys, and then people who never knew that or thought of it started wearing them that way because the cool kids did, and now we have this ridiculous ugly fashion that started with people whose clothes just plain frackin’ didn’t fit.

    Takuan, if you have a different theory, I’d be fascinated.

  33. His hanky could be one that is made that way and isn’t a real hanky. You just slide them in the pocket.

    Cops love saggy pants. When they drop down while a crook is running from the cops it makes it easy to catch them. Let them wear them as low as they want. The sooner they will be caught when running from the cops.

  34. You would think the absurdity of saggy pants would make them self-limiting. But no, the self-delusion involved is overpowering.

  35. It’s a “big house” (prison) fashion hitting the streets – what a decade ago now, right?
    So turn the whole damned town into a prison already.

  36. yup, it’s “just out of the joint” chic. Not from losing any weight, just because the cops rousting inner city kids on trivial (or not) shite would always turn them lose after a day or two sans their belts and shoelaces. The ass hangin’ out and sneakers with no laces look became a badge of street cred. Cops figured they were getting their digs in as usual, street brats as usual turned it around.

  37. Um, I would like to point people at the history of fashion. My favorite highlights include bellbottoms, chesthair+liesure suits, flannel shirts over t-shirts+ripped jeans, slash-n-poof, cod-pieces, and so on.

    I include cod-pieces and slash-n-poof to point out that ridiculous styles are nothing new. Rather, they are very much the norm.

    Also, there is plenty of precedent for underwear becoming outerwear (see: collared button-up shirts–400 years ago, they were undershirts).

    Go. Ban. Have fun. People will come up with some other way to wear clothes that looks dumb. This is nothing new. Passing laws about it just makes you look stupid, too.

    (Final note: after giving the Reason article the once-over, that doesn’t seem to phase this gentleman…)

  38. Hey SMORGASBORD your “they” kinda comes across as a bit…weighted. can saggy pants “they’s” drink from your water fountain?

  39. What I don’t understand is how men’s fashion got stuck on the “Business Suit” setting for a Century. Not only that, but it seems to have spread around the world.
    As to the learned mayor, instead of banning saggy pants, he should make them mandatory, like jackets and ties are at some restaurants. Would bring the tourists down to ol’ Jackson, to gawk at the saggy-pants locals.

  40. No no no, the reason for baggy pants is to make shoplifting easier. Roomy clothes hide stuff well. But then there is also the primary reason why adolescents will do anything, because it bugs the hell out of the adults.

  41. …He’s currently the defendant in a federal trial alleging that he and a gang of his thugs knocked down someone’s house with sledgehammers after designating it a “crack house”.

    Well if it didn’t have crack in it before it’s got plenty of cracks in it now.

  42. The most effective way to get young people to ditch baggy pants would be for older, un-hip people to start wearing them.

  43. Somehow it falls to me to explain, of all people…

    Baggy pants were a LA gang affectation. They wore them to conceal weapons.

  44. oh, we’re over the constitution now? we’re a black, southern mayor who’s over the constitution? do we know our history, or are we just a flippin idiot? yeah, now that i think about it, baggy pants sure do sound dangerous! think of all the bad things you could hide in them that you could never put in a, hmm, a bag? or a puffy coat? or a beehive hair-do? up yours, mayor melton, get out of office.

  45. ” #75 posted by Brainspore , January 16, 2009 9:02 PM

    The most effective way to get young people to ditch baggy pants would be for older, un-hip people to start wearing them.

    like Jeans sales dropped in the UK when Jeremy Clarkson started wearing them…

  46. someone needs to do the scholarship: what is the first and oldest recorded reason for baggy-ass pants? Citation?

  47. Saggy Pants and police states:

    “It was about nine o’clock on a bleak November day that the key rattled in the heavy lock of my cell in the Lubyanka Prison and the two broad-shouldered guards marched purposefully in. I had been walking slowly round, left hand in the now characteristic prisoner’s attitude of supporting the top of the issue trousers, which Russian ingenuity supplied without buttons or even string on the quite reasonable assumption that a man preoccupied with keeping up his pants would be severely handicapped in attempting to escape….” Slavomire Rawicz, _The Long Walk_ (1956), p. 3

  48. ahh prison/gang culture…can’t think of any other group more worthwhile to emulate. it is truly and indication of intelligence and upbringing, and allows you to easily identify the best and brightest on the country.


  49. they led him out into a walled courtyard, the execution ground. The guards around him left blades in scabbards, easily confident they could cut him down in a moment, if required. As they walked, a trickle ran down the condemned’s leg, living one footstep printed in the dust with each pace. The guard behind saw this, and apart from a slight tightening on the lines around his mouth, gave no sign. The daimyo sat under the limited shade at the far end, waiting to witness his sentence. Nearing the middle, the prisoner’s loincloth was now quite soaked and sagging. The thought crossed the guard’s mind: “Why did he gulp so much water in his cage that morning? Didn’t he think ahead to see his disgrace with the inevitable?” They stopped. The courtyard was empty save for the execution party, it’s brick walls too high to climb unaided, no eyes to see the outcome save the seated lord. Suddenly the prisoner shouted, the shock twitching back those around him.In one motion he peeled of the wet loincloth and snapped it across the eyes of the closest. Feet a churning blur,he pounded for the blank wall as if an open doorway beckoned. With a flat smack! the soaked cloth flattened full length on the wall’s surface with the tip curled over the top edge. A mighty one handed tug and the other fingertips found purchase and hauled the slight figure over the wall. And away.

  50. Well, the sagging loincloth certainly predates inner city style, but probably doesn’t account for it. My citationless recollection is that it began in LA County jail. Pants were not always available in one’s particular size. A 32 waist might be given a 42 and so it became an “in-prison” style that carried to the streets of LA and then as a gift to the rest of the world.

    The best way to pull down the baggy pants phenomenon is not through legislation, but by issuing each convicted gangbanger a nice, fitted Sansabelt.

  51. While we’re at it can we ban the common practise of skinny jeans and baggy jacket? it only makes one look like they have a gut wildly out of proportion with their legs. That and skinny jeans only look good on skinny people. sorry, rest of you.

  52. Probably too late to get an answer but what I want to know is how in hell they keep the pants on in the first place. If my pants ever dropped below my ass they’d just keep on going to the floor. This has baffled me for so long.

  53. I have a friend who was vice principal of a junior high school (you know, the assistant principal in charge of vice) who dealt with sagging as follows:

    The offender was brought to his office. He was told that it was against dress code to sag in school. My friend then opened a dress drawer and and pulled out a huge roll of pink ribbon and scissors. The offender then had to wear pink ribbon suspenders / belt for the rest of the school day. He said the offenders never did sag on school property after that.

  54. Ugh.

    Historical interest aside, I hate it when people try to minimize other people’s choices by reducing them to their original histrorical context. Baggy fashion is now so far removed from prison-style, it’s just silly to bring it up in the elitist way some are doing here..

    Do you wear lumber-jack shirts? Cargo pants? Combats? Jeans? RayBans? A diver’s watch? Atheletic shoes? Pilot’s/baseball/bomber/biker jacket?

    Did you choose your clothes because of your affectation to any of the original related activities, or because you thought the items looked cool today? Or, indeed, because that’s what folk in your circle wear?

    Baggy/saggy pant may have come from prison-life and hand-me-down poverty, but it’s at least twenty years removed from that and has been reappropriated and recontextualized in all sorts of ways since then.

    I remember my dad saying these exact things in the late eighties (“pfft, they’re all just trying to look like convicts to be cool”. If you think any kids are waking up in the morning and pulling on their baggies thinking “yeah, I look prison chic”, then you’re deluded.

    If you don’t like the fashion, so be it (I’m not crazy about the ass-sag, myself). But just because they are from communities and micro-cultures you don’t understand or buy-into, doesn’t make it cool to dismiss them. That goes equally for any group, and I thought we knew that here.


  55. I wear cargo pants because in the summer I never have enough pockets.

    I hate baggy pants because I grew up in the 70s when the clothes were admittedly hideous, but at least they showed off a man’s buns. I think tight pants are making a comeback, but that may be wishful thinking on my part.

    Yes, I am a shameless ogler. Get over it.

  56. I just find it ironic that the generation that gave us the many fashion crimes of the late ’70s are now dictating what falls outside the bounds of good taste.

  57. Baldhead – skinny jeans look just fine on the non-skinny. In fact, they look considerably better when they have some curves to hug.

  58. Tak@93

    That’s actually a question I have huge trouble with, in my own head.

    Ultimately I think the rght to wear things like hoodies (hood up) is a valuable one, and is something society chooses to read in different ways – more to do with the mood of the times than an intrinsic value of the clothes themselves.

    OTOH I have, on occasion, felt intimidated by gangs of yoothz in hoodz. Frankly though, it was the gang of youths rather than the hoods that was the issue.

    I think notions of inherent intimidation by fashion are down to taking control of ones own xenophobia first, and an honest (if brave) view toward tabloid terrorism.

  59. I believe some of the baggy pants actually have the underwear tops sewn in. So really your not seeing underwear – your seeing the soft cotton waistband of the actual jeans.
    I also find baggy pants really funny. Especially when they fall down and the little teenager shows off more than he meant to – always a good laugh.
    Ark – I find the social historical context of fashion really interesting. I don’t judge it – I just enjoy knowing the story. I also think trying to look ‘gansta’ is totally on the mind of lots of teenagers!

  60. @72 – The mayor in Saskatoon tried to make it mandatory to wear a shirt and tie to have an audience with him. (buddy also owned a mens formal wear store) Didn’t go over well.

  61. Gawd, herself, would find this laughable best!

    Is this the best we can do?

    Who voted for this Miss Manners?

    What’s next on his list?
    1: Saggy pants ordinance
    2: No dresses below the knee, enforce Puritan laws (after we think then up)
    3: Military haircuts for men…and women
    4: Mandatory chastity belts, execute all hookers
    5: Death sentences for teen sex or masturbation
    6: Ban all comic books and porn magazines
    7: Ban alcohol and cigs
    ***: Ban that damn Boing Boing, hell ban the Internet completely; people spend too much time in front of computers and should be outside picking up garbage and manicuring their hedges.

  62. AGF, I find the social historical context interesting too, I really wasn’t criticizing it. I just didn’t like the dismissive/elitist tone some of the comments were made in.

    Also, I’m not sure ‘gangsta’ is the best way to describe where this kind of fashion has gone. ‘Gansta’ is not half as relevant as it was in the nineties, since then it’s been through ‘pimp’ and ‘playa’.. I’m sure its at something different by now.

    There are so many motivations and mindsets that we are unaware of, that projecting our own (probably out of date) associations is probably going to be wrong 5/10 times (tending to 10/10 the more time goes by).

  63. Ark – fair.
    Heehee. I’m not great with kid words – I’m in canada – no big us city of anything but I have heard teens call things gangsta – but pimp and playa are probably more common. I’ll try to find more for you!

  64. It’s not a fluke that the style originated in prison and has taken hold in the cities. How many of these kids have a father, uncle, brother in jail? How many of them have spent a little time in juvie themselves? What kind of style do we expect them to appropriate given the options they have modeled to them?

  65. Wolfiesma, I think that is possibly a dangerous presumption, based more on racial stereotypes and mistaken visual cues, than the reality of their individual situations.

    Unless you are talking solely about the residents of the town mentioned above, “these kids” are all over the world, from all sorts of socio-economic backgrounds, and very likely don’t fulfil the assumptions you are making of their fashion choices.

  66. Okay, my bad. Let me speak specifically about the group of kids I taught in the urban core of San Jose. They wore saggy pants. They were white, black, latino, asian. Their fathers, brothers and uncles had been or were in jail. One young man’s father committed suicide in jail. Nearly all of the boys had spent time in juvie. The girls had babies and took advantage of assistance programs available to them. I know it reads like a set of stereotypes, but that doesn’t make it less true.

  67. But is that why they wore baggy pants? Or is it infinitely more likely it was because they saw those type of clothes on tv and music videos?

  68. I don’t think culture happens in a “this-causes-this-causes-this” straight line. Everything influences everything.

  69. …You know, since it’s mostly thugs who wear those baggies down below their genitals, *let* them wear the damn things. First time they go on the run from the law, they’ll slip down below their knees and trip them up so they’ll get caught.

  70. Seen on top of a taxicab in Dallas today: cartoon ad showing two little old ladies, a baggy-pantsed lad from the waist down, and the text: “Grandma Says…Pull ‘Em Up!”

  71. that’s right neither here nor there. i’m hesitant to say that i was sans home for a while least some boingers take up cause for me. i’ve been looking in from time to time. back to topic, i think the “hanky” is a stylized sewn pocket square and ” i don’t wear skinny jean cause my nuts don’t fit” i felt i had to join this thread because it was getting white like clinton hill.

  72. Well I for one am SICK AND TIRED of hearing about the damned “constitution”.

    Think of all the cops this has prevented from blowing away badguys?

    Think about the cost incurred as we were forced to put the Guantanamo detainees in Cuba?

    How many criminals didn’t go to prison because of that damned piece of paper? How many hippies have been allowed to disrupt Godly commerce with their protests? How many newspapers have been able to print whatever the hell they wanted to?

    No sir, over the last 8 years we’ve made a lot of progress towards freeing ourselves from slavery to that rag, and we were close to killing it off entirely.

    Does Dubya have a son? When we he be electable?

  73. Where the hell have the jeans-obsessed authoritarians in this thread sprung up from? Middle-class white people having their Internets messed with, why, this is a CIVIL RIGHTS issue! But those damn nee-graws and their loose trousers, we must legislate them out of existence.

  74. A quick look at the rates of incarceration in this country and I think you’ll see we’re well on our way.

  75. I may have missed the tone of alot of the commentors above, but… Sweet Zombie Jesus – can we all just be a bit more elitist and dismissive?

    Then we can all go out and scream at kids to get off our lawns.

  76. Adelaide, Australia.
    A city with a measly population of 1.2mil.

    I certainly do understand that I’m fortunate enough to live in a country where we don’t have such a … thorough understanding of violent crime.

    There are areas of my city where I wouldn’t want to be alone for very long (I work in those areas, with RFID fobs between me and the outside world) but they must pale signifcantly when you start comparing the issues of a larger North American cities.

    But it’s not like that is outside of my frame of reference either – i’ve spent alot of time in much larger cities than Adelaide.

  77. Uh… i’m in a Western suburb of Adelaide (right now), about 125 metres to my right I’d be able to find a compound filled with individuals just like that.

    Gun totin, meth-selling hardarses that I say “G’day” to on my way through to lunch and then back again.

    And i’m a gay man in a little plaid Ben Sherman shirt with purple hair.

    I find it odd, over and over again that people who are vilified in the media (in my case Veitnamese smack dealers, bikie gangs [meth, guns], gangs “of aboriginal appearance”) are actually very, very reasonable people – in groups and alone, on the street or in the clinic and exchange.

    The times I have seen them be unreasonable (and I have) is almost always in response to people looking down their noses at them. And yeah, sure – opportunistic theft. And even when I have been the victim… I dunno, I’m fortunate enough not to immediately divide people around me into Us & Them. Regardless of wage, pants, ethnicity or other.

  78. why do you think they wear their gang colours? To indicate their friendly affability and community spirit? Their esprit de corps? Yeah, they may not see anything on you they want – today.

    One thing to wear biker leather with no marking beyond individual expresion, quite another to wear symbols designed to say: “fuck with me, even if I’m fucking with you, and a hundred just like me will kill you”

  79. And I think why the idea of “intimidating clothing” is thankfully well outside my frame of reference.

    In my experience & neighbourhood a “gang” (bikie, bunch of youths, residents, whoever you want to label as such) tends to only take issue with direct rivals or people with a vested interest in whatever it is they do, legally or illegally.

    The other thing I’ve been fortunate enough to witness is what you say above – a community spirit among bikies. I’d be very happy to live next to one of their compounds, since i’m not muscling in on their business. They were actually sort of good for this neighbourhood.

    Naighbourhood Watch groups can just as easily be construed as gangs, esepcially when they conspire to shut down health services that the “gangs” actually rely on.

    Maybe i’ve just spent too much time being labelled on the wrong side of people’s good perceptions, and jump in to defend where similar sentiment is spread.

  80. yes, I have heard (many times) from people that live next to biker gang houses that there is no crime on their block. It’s quite true.

    Have you ever watched the television series, The Sopranos?

  81. Not sure if that’s sarcasm or not.

    When I say “good for the neighbourhood” please don’t mistake that for “there was a drop in crime”, as I dare say there would’ve been the opposite after the Gypsy Jokers moved in. Not all criminal activity is “bad”, or has negative impacts on the community. Some of it quite the opposite.

  82. Drug dealing comes to mind first, and sure “dealing is bad” yadda yadda, but when you have a group raising the minimum bar for behavour when you come into the area to score.

    It’s good for the residents, both users and not, and for the council, who have less of a problem with improperly disposed equipment.

    Or is my hometown so quaint that even the bikers give a fuck about littering and good manners?

  83. the only crime in drug dealing is governmental.

    No, ,what I am getting at is the tribal nature of the inevitable violence attached to gangs. Whether, money, drugs, sex or “respect”, sooner or later they always will either beat or kill non-group members. It’s just primate nature. I mentioned the Sopranos because it’s actually not a bad example. Watch what happens to all the peripheral people (ie: non-mob). The waiters, the gardeners, the everyday. Don’t misapprehend me, the police are just another gang. With control of the street.

  84. I totally agree. I don’t want people to think I am defending or justifying criminals outright. Certainly not the case.

    Alas, putting another law (about clothing, in this case) onto those groups just gives them another law to ignore.

    You have to laugh (or cry) when elected officials propose absurd legislation to try and “fix” or right what is essentially the product of other public policy’s abject failures.

  85. Tak, sounds like you’ve either had some bad experiences with bikers, or you are falling for tabloid terrorism.

    My experiences of biker-gangs and MCCs (motor cycle clubs) have been mixed enough to give me a fairly balanced view, enough to know that colours, logos and affiliations aren’t enough for me to deem them ‘intimidating’ or ‘cowards’.

    In both Australia and Ireland I’ve known MCCs to be some of the most community minded groups I’ve known; organising charity events, donating to children’s homes.. I knew one biker bar in Dublin whose profits (above overhead) all went to charity.

    There are of course biker gangs who you should be afraid of.. but to decide they (as a group) are all bad guys because they wear colours or club mottos is just silly.

    Do only ‘bad’ people declare their affiliations openly?

  86. We form “gangs”, on the inside or outside (of ‘genteel society’), because we are social creatures. We like to belong to groups. We are social, kind and gentle by nature.
    The violence that now occurs, occurs because of bad governmental policies. Otherwise, it would not.
    That violence must be used to control the irrationally violent does not change that.
    One will find that where violence is not irrational, it will stop once grievances/goals are pragmatically met. That is, once ‘justice’ is obtained, from the point of view of the stronger.
    But there are, and have always been, many many eyes watching, and the victor’s ‘justice’ will not be, and never has been, judged solely by its success, in the eyes of others. And thus, their repute among other people and the ‘justice’ of their cause will be determined by others, by those who come later.
    America “won its war” against the Native Americans, but history shall never accede to a claim of “justice”, for that ‘victory’. Similarly, Iraq.

  87. A very interesting read:

    The influence of social pressure and black clothing on crime judgements (pdf)

    Frank and Gilovich (1988) were the first researchers to demonstrate the impact of the colour of clothing on impression formation. In their experiment, referees were shown a videotape of an American football match and were asked to make judgements about the actions of the defensive team.
    In one version the defensive team wore a black uniform and in the other version they wore a white uniform. The offensive team wore red in both versions. Apart from the colour of the uniforms, the two versions of the football match were kept constant. Results revealed that the referees were more inclined to penalise the defensive team when it was wearing a black uniform.

  88. Hey it truly is nothing new, that. The greens and the blues fought it out (oft-times literally) over several centuries in Constantinople during the Byzantine era (550-1100 A.D.); those were the colors of the factions which sponsored the racing chariots in the Coliseum. These factions eventually fought it out via supporters in the halls of the Imperial Palace itself.
    There too one did not want to be a ‘blue’ discovered in the ‘green’ zone. From this example and many others, it is apparent that people wish to belong so strongly to a group, that they will physically hurt others to seal the bargain.
    Nevertheless and notwithstanding this, those rivals put aside their differences to fight side by side if eg. the Goths or Genoans should come beseiging.
    But we moderns have a somewhat broader and wider view of what group we belong to, as broad and wide as the entire human race.

  89. “It is apparent that people wish to belong so strongly to a group, that they will physically hurt others to seal the bargain.”

    Wait a minute.. didn’t you see Gran Torino yet? Sometimes joining a gang has nothing to do with wanting to belong. Kids often get pressured or threatened into joining gangs they’d rather not be part of. There is a lot to be said about group belonging and identity and all that, but don’t forget plain old survival instinct.

    How did Takuan put it? Something like, learn the customs or get put in the pot? One difference, of course, is that membership in this community is optional, but most kids don’t get to choose where they grow up and who they have to face on the way to school and back.

  90. When you’re targeted because of your percieved support for the other team.. because you are wearing their colour/s…

    Well, sometimes you just have to conceed that humans in large groups can be astoundingly stupid, hostile and mindless. The mob mentality is only a shuffle away from the gang, right?

    Ugly Canuck nails it with his anecdote… fighting each other til something bigger comes along to fight. When that’s done… back you go to the initial bickering. With swords.

    I can empathise with misanthropes sometimes.

  91. @141 almost to a word wrong and self contradictory.

    “We are…kind and gentle by nature.”

    is that so?

    “The violence that now occurs, occurs because of bad governmental policies. Otherwise, it would not.”

    who placed these governments into positions of power? who ARE these governments?!



    I need to asked black Pastors to give a sermon on saggy pants! And women that are willing to walk hand and hand with a man that sag his pants! DON”T! Let me first say that I hate saggy pants! As a black father of two black young men I pray everyday that they hate that style of dress too! I also know there should not be a law against saggy pants! It will only lead to profiling young black men more so then they already are! Young black men are already profiled and are hated to the point of police officers. Shooting beating and murdering unarmed young black men! The hate for young black men aid so obvious! Not a law introduce by any politician to prevent that straight up racial evil of obvious police brutality! Cops associate gangs and acting thug with saggy pants! There are new laws in some states that fine and or jail a person for wearing saggy pants! Just another excuse to arrest beat or murder young black men! White young men can wear baggy pants and devil worshipping clothes! Nail in their heads tattoos of hate and anti-American flags! Not a new rule or bill to prevent or stop THEM! White young men can also wear saggy pants and be given a pass! Because the target is black young men! Now some may say if these black men know police are participating in pure hatred! They should pull their pants up! That may be true but it’s not fair! It’s not equal treatment under American law!

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