In an MTV interview – Obama tells you to pull up your pants. He does it more politely than I do to teenagers in target.
Sway: Our next question comes from Eric out of Huntington Beach, California: “There are numerous cultures and subcultures in the United States today. Powers-that-be set statutes with monetary penalty on how people wear their clothes. Do you find it intrusive on civil liberties to create such ordinances?” And you know I got ‘locks.
Obama: I wasn’t going to pass a law, man. You look tight.
Sway: I know people have piercings, tattoos. Eric, in particular, is talking about a ban on sagging pants. Do feel like people should be penalized?
Obama: Here is my attitude: I think people passing a law against people wearing sagging pants is a waste of time. We should be focused on creating jobs, improving our schools, health care, dealing with the war in Iraq, and anybody, any public official, that is worrying about sagging pants probably needs to spend some time focusing on real problems out there. Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What’s wrong with that? Come on. There are some issues that we face, that you don’t have to pass a law, but that doesn’t mean folks can’t have some sense and some respect for other people and, you know, some people might not want to see your underwear — I’m one of them.
Sway: In regards to piercings, tattoos, I had a friend who worked for UPS and he had ‘locks. He almost lost his job, but he fought for it. In regards to those things, how do you feel?
Obama: It’s one thing if an employer discriminates on the basis of gender or sexual orientation or, obviously, race or ethnicity. I think employers can set standards. Now you got ‘locks, but it looks clean, man, it’s tight, and my little girl has twists, Malia, and to me, it looks great. Obviously I would be upset if she were discriminated against on that basis. On the other hand, if you are working at a fancy store and you show up to work in jeans and a shirt and you have a tattoo across your neck like Mike Tyson, for them to say, you know, “That is not the kind of image we are trying to project,” obviously, that is in their rights as well. I think any business has the right to say, “This is the kind of tone we want to set,” as long as they aren’t discriminating on the basis of things people can’t control.