My co-worker and I regularly lament about this nation's newly-expanding love of legislating morality. Under this philosophy, lawmakers exercise unreasonable liberty and loose interpretations in passing & enforcing laws against any behavior that is contrary to their personal morals.
Now I am all for outlawing immoral behaviors that threaten the life and limb of another human being. Murder is immoral and illegal because nobody has the right to determine the expiration date of another random life. And I sure don't think we should be allowed to beat our neighbors within an inch of their lives when a misplaced fence encroaches across our property line. In those cases, laws function as intended - to protect citizens from harm.
But what happens when law is used as an attack on personal freedoms? I happen to hate the sagging pants phenomenon. If my son's pants look like they're creeping from the region of his waist, I request a correction right away. Some say the baggy pants represent a man's availability to other men while in jail. Others say the fashion statement is part of the hip hop culture. I don't really care if it causes my house to spontaneously clean itself, it's not a look that describes the path on which I want to send my children.
BUT... Do I want my lawmakers wasting time finding ways to outlaw this fashion statement? Not particularly. My personal dislike for saggy pants shouldn't become grounds for wanting to criminalize the behavior. Shyt, I never had a pair of saggy pants rob my home, inflict me with a wound, threaten my life or traumatize my kids. A few states clearly disagree with my position. From the article about outlawing saggy pants:
According to Andrew Bolton, the curator at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, fashions tend to be decried when they “challenge the conservative morality of a society.”
From the same article:
Debbie Seagraves, the executive director of the A.C.L.U. of Georgia said, “I don’t see any way that something constitutional could be crafted when the intention is to single out and label one style of dress that originated with the black youth culture, as an unacceptable form of expression.”
Now I won't get into describing how this legislation is usually directed at behaviors (either real or stereotypical) exhibited by minorities. Instead, I'll get to the incident that really triggered this blog post. The latest issue involves a much more benign moral issue. Unlike sagging pants, Issue #2 doesn't even flirt near lines in the sand where inappropriate body parts may be exposed. We're talking about another common behavior (often attributed to the Black community): Eye rolling. Yeah I said it. Rolling. Yo. Eyes.
A woman from Elmhurst rolled her eyes and sighed during a public meeting and was promptly ejected from the proceeding. As a result, the city is looking to create a "disturbance and disorderly conduct" violation which would effectively criminalize the silent objection expressed via rolling of the eyes.
Naturally, as stated in the article, the woman was opposed to an issue under discussion. It begs the question, "If she had rolled her eyes in support of the position, would she be facing such 'criminal' scrutiny?"
In this case, like so many others, one person's discomfort, moral indignation, or simple bad hair day leads to the unjust limitation of another person's rights. In other words, she hurt his widdle feelings so she should be smacked with a violation.
I'm rolling my eyes about this one. Now what??
Share your thoughts in the comments.