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Debate Over 'Saggy Pants Law' Heats Up In Ocean City

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An Ocean City councilman is trying to ban saggy pants on the boardwalk.
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An Ocean City councilman is trying to ban saggy pants on the boardwalk.

Whenever Ocean City Councilman Brent Ashley sees a group of kids on the boardwalk with their pants sagging well below their waistlines walking in front of a family, his blood starts to boil.

"What about the vacationers' rights, the mothers, the grandmothers," he asks. "Is it my right that I have to look at someone's behind?"

Ashley has been on a highly publicized quest to get a law passed in Ocean City that would prohibit anyone from wearing their pants more than 3 inches below the waistline. The proposal actually mirrors a law that just passed unanimously in Wildwood, N.J. He says passing the law would restore decency to the boardwalk.

Several weeks ago, the council seemed open to discussing the idea, but now after Ashley has gone on record to numerous media outlets with comments like this: "In my opinion if you dress like a thug, and you look like a thug, chances are you probably are a thug, and we don't want any thugs in Ocean City."

And with the sensitivity of racial profiling in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case, the Ocean City Council seemingly doesn't want to touch the issue with a 10-foot pole, or a really long belt.

In a recent meeting, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said he understands Ashley's concerns, but also that the council needs to make a decision about "how judgmental we want to be about everybody else."

Ashley says this proposal is not racially motivated, and he claims to have a prominent African American civic leader in his corner, but when asked why he wanted to ban saggy pants and not t-shirts with offensive language in his so-called quest for decency, he said saggy pants are often linked to the gang lifestyle, and he says no one is emailing him about being scared of obscene t-shirts.

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