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Georgia town to residents: Uphold the law -- uphold your pants

From Dina Majoli, CNN
Dublin Mayor Phil Best plans to sign the amendment to the indecent exposure ordinance this week.
Dublin Mayor Phil Best plans to sign the amendment to the indecent exposure ordinance this week.
  • The mayor of Dublin, Georgia, plans to sign an amendment to an indecent exposure ordinance
  • The law would bar the wearing of low pants or skirts "exposing the skin or undergarments"
  • Dublin residents are divided on the new law
  • Violators, meanwhile, could be fined up to $200

(CNN) -- The town of Dublin, Georgia, is putting saggy, baggy pants in the category of indecent exposure, with violators facing fines of up to $200.

Dublin Mayor Phil Best said he plans to sign this week an amendment to the municipality's indecent exposure ordinance. The amendment, which Best plans to put into immediate effect at the City Council meeting, prohibits the wearing of pants or skirts "more than three inches below the top of the hips exposing the skin or undergarments."

"We've gotten several complaints from citizens saying the folks with britches down below their buttocks was offensive, and wasn't there something we could do about it," Best said.

The mayor said after about a year of fielding complaints, he put the city attorney to work researching how other localities have dealt with the derriere dilemma. The result was that council members decided to put exposure due to baggy clothing in the same category as masturbation, fornication and urination in public places.

Video: Saggy pants ruling in Georgia
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Patrolling for offenders will be left to local police in the town about 140 miles southeast of Atlanta. Violators could face fines ranging from $25 to $200, or court-mandated community service.

"That's not our intent, we'd (rather) not fine anybody but we are prepared to," Best said.

Dublin residents are divided on the issue.

Lashika Haynes supports the push to force folks to pull up, "It's just disrespectful by showing your drawers to people," she said.

But there are those who feel that the ordinance singles out a specific group of citizens.

Jean Wolf, who volunteers with young black men in the community said, "They're the ones wearing the saggy, baggy pants."

Wolf said she believes the ordinance will lead to profiling by authorities.

Mayor Best said that accusation is "ridiculous."

"It's for white, black, man, woman. The ordinance is for everyone, and I've seen it violated by all races and sexes," Best said.

Dublin is not alone in its pull-up-the-pants campaign. Riviera Beach, Florida, and Flint, Michigan, passed bans against sagging pants in recent years, but the Riviera Beach legislation later was declared unconstitutional after a court challenge.

In the non-judicial realm, a state senator in Brooklyn, New York, announced plans earlier this year for a series of billboards featuring young men wearing low-hanging pants and the catchphrase, "Raise your pants, raise your image."

And up the road from Dublin, 62-year-old Atlantan "General" Larry Platt made it all the way to "American Idol" and became an online one-hit wonder with his song "Pants on the Ground." (Sample lyrics: "Pants on the ground, pants on the ground/looking like a fool with your pants on the ground.")

It is not lost on the mayor and the City Council in Dublin that this ordinance opens the door to what could be a pretty tricky debate over what is indecent exposure. For instance, how much is too much cleavage, and are certain tattoos indecent? The mayor seems to welcome the discussion as a natural part of the law-making process.

"I don't know a law or ordinance that doesn't stand scrutiny by the people and the court system. So time will tell. There have been plenty of laws that have gone all the way to Supreme Court," Best said.

According to the mayor, the local high school already enforces a strict dress code which puts a tight belt around students and their saggy pants, sending violators home for the day.

"It's time we all have a mutual respect for each other ... what a person does in the privacy of their home is fine," Best said. "But if I had an 8-year-old daughter, I don't think she needs to be subjected to looking at someone's rear end."