Tom Evil

Also recently banned: Bath salts in Tennessee, prayers in England, and possibly "reckless skateboarding" in Los Angeles.

Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world:

• Wearing baggy clothing is a officially a finable offense in Tupelo, Mississippi, after the city voted nearly unanimously to outlaw low riding pants and skirts. The fashion decree, which birthed the hashtag #BieberWouldGetArrested, bans any pants that ride lower than three inches below the top of the hips. Needless to say, anyone rocking exposed underwear would get a ticket so fast their head would be spinning. First-time offenders must pay $50, while inveterate sag-sporters will face $200 fines. Here's the rationale behind the new law, explained by Councilwoman Nettie Davis: “If it's a man, exposing his behind parts is like mooning or something.” The ban's lone dissenter on the city council, Willie Jennings, proved his fashion mettle by saying the saggy-pants trend was “in fact going out of style.”

• A 28-year-old man has been banned from cities in Montana, North Dakota, Washington, Oregon, and Minnesota for repeatedly jumping onto the backs of athletes at high-school sporting events. Sherwin Shayegan, a.k.a. the “Piggyback Bandit,” has since 2008 “asked for piggybacks, attempted to pay for piggybacks and just sprung one upon an unsuspecting kid,” according to this incredibly readable AP story. Shayegan prefers to conduct his creepy hijinks on the basketball court, but in a pinch has also hit up football, hockey and soccer games. Quoth Mark Beckman of the Montana High School Sports Association: “What's disturbing to me is that he is jumping on our young athletes, he is 240 pounds, and he can hurt someone.”

• In a blow to newspapers everywhere desperate for entertaining content, the Bluff City Board of Mayor and Alderman has outlawed the sale and possession of bath salts like Ivory Wave, White Lightning, and Hurricane Charlie. It's now a civil penalty in this Tennessee city to snort the synthetic compounds, which can give users feelings of superhuman strength and the reasoning powers of an irate badger. For months now, bath salts have been providing great morning reading for news consumers everywhere. With this ban in place, prepare yourself for a few less stories that begin like this:

  • A 39-year-old Merrillville man -- who police believe may have been under the influence of bath salts --  took a stun gun from a Merrillville patrolman and used it on another officer, police said.
  • Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey said police do not know why a naked, crying woman crawled into a sewer pipe emerging from a cliff 25 feet above the Kennebec River on Sunday morning.... Massey said one officer heard crying and determined the noise was coming from a large sewer pipe which protruded about 10 feet below the top of the cliff. "She had climbed down a sheer cliff, which was quite a feat," said Massey.
  • The Powers family says they only had the baby goat for two days. Now, Mark Thompson, a neighbor, is charged with brutally killing the animal.... Still wearing women's clothing, Thompson, 19, was booked for a felony charge of animal cruelty. Thompson eventually surrendered, and told police he'd been high on bath salts for three days.
  • A DeMotte woman believed to be high on bath salts allegedly told police she needed to write on the walls of a Rensselaer hotel room to protect her from evil spirits, officials said.

• Los Angeles wants to ban bombing, the practice of scooting rapidly down hills on a skateboard. The city council picked up the issue after a 15-year-old boy slammed into the ground and died this year while bombing. The ban would require skateboarders to “keep to the right side of the street, ride in the same direction as the flow of vehicular traffic and not impede traffic.” They would also have to yield, stop and otherwise follow all the road signs that cars do.

• City councils all across England and Wales are no longer allowed to say formal prayers before the start of their regular meetings. The practice, which goes back centuries to the days of Elizabeth I, was deemed illegal by the country's High Court in a test case brought by the National Secular Society. The society deemed the ban “an important victory for everyone who wants a secular society that neither advantages nor disadvantages people because of their religion or lack of it.”

Photo of saggy Parisian pants courtesy of Tom Evil.

About the Author

John Metcalfe
John Metcalfe

John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.

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