by Rob Schwarzwalder
September 29, 2011
Exposing one’s undergarments traditionally has been viewed as poor form, at best, and more often than not, just plain immodest.
While it’s true there is no accounting for taste (polyester leisure suits for men and gigantic shoulder pads for women are among happily-jettisoned fashions), subjecting one’s fellows to the sight of one’s underpants is, quite literally, too much. Thus, the town of Albany, Georgia has instituted a ban on “anyone from wearing pants or skirts more than three inches below the top of the hips, exposing the skin or undergarments. First-time offenders face a $25 fine. On further offenses, the fine can rise to $200.”
As a conservative, I dislike the idea of government taking upon itself the right to measure pant length or hip exposure. Yet such intrusions are inevitable if people lack the common sense - and common decency - to dress with at least some semblance of normality and decorum. People only stand for so much before they call for legal fences to protect them against bad neighbors.
That should serve as a broader warning for a society enmeshed in narcissism, immorality, and the general abandonment of truth. Moral erosion leads to anarchy. Anarchy threatens lives, which results in a popular call for the restoration of order. And, thus, fascism emerges in the guise of strident leadership proclaiming “bread and peace” (Bolshevism) or “one people, one empire, one leader” (Nazism) or “socialism builds and capitalism destroys” (Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez).
In his book Twelve Types, G.K. Chesterton wrote that “politeness … is everywhere understood and nowhere defined.” Such definition really is unnecessary, since the rites of courtesy are only the formalization of intuitive conscience, of the moral stirrings that cause us to help an elderly woman up a staircase or open a door for a mother with a stroller. Or keep one’s pants pulled up over his briefs.
Our Founders argued that if we lack self-restraint and basic virtue, we were unfit for self-government. “Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt,” wrote Samuel Adams. In the era of such diverse but somehow connected phenomena as Lady Gaga, eroticized childhood, abortion on demand, and bizarre cosmetic surgery, is such universal corruption far behind? Only if Christians are willing to stand against it, and work to restore a society where honor, courage, kindness, and enterprise are fostered and not demeaned.
And by their own devices brought down to servitude,
That man chooses bondage before liberty.
Bondage with ease before strenuous liberty. John Milton