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Cargo pants, tattoos & other threats to society

When my oldest daughter started middle school, we stocked up during back-to-school shopping on cargo pants. They were cool at the time, comfortable and seemed perfectly suitable with her school uniform top.

But in the first week of school the principal decided suddenly that cargo pants were unacceptable attire. They were banned for the rest of the year.

I was pissed. Not only did I lose major bucks over the new dress code, but I thought it was an arbitrary decision that took aim at a perfectly fine pair of pants.

I'm sure Michael Jordan didn't feel my budgetary pain, but he faced the same fashion backlash recently when he was banned from La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach because he showed up to play golf in a pair of cargo pants.

Jordan reportedly was on the twelfth hole when someone from the club interrupted to inform him that his cargo pants were against the dress code, which requires guests to wear collared shirts and Bermuda shorts or khakis. Jordan, one of the world's greatest athletes, declined to change outfits and kept playing, ticking off the La Gorce force so much that it was decreed that he is not welcome back.

Apparently elite country clubs aren't content with a history of banning blacks and Jews. Now they want to go after multi-pocketed pants, too.

I've been to events at La Gorce Country Club and I can assure you that there have been far more offensive outfits on the premises than cargo pants. (Unless you favor bright green slacks with hot pink flamingos on them.)

Around the same time last week, AOL FanHouse's David Whitley sharply criticized the San Francisco 49ers' new starting quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, in a column that compared him to a prison inmate for having tattoos on his arms. Being inked up doesn't fit the clean-cut CEO image befitting a NFL QB, Whitley complained.

"I know that attitude qualifies me for an AARP card," Whitley wrote.

I don't know if he's old, but he's certainly senile. Illegal dog fighting (Michael Vick) and a string of sexual assault allegations (Ben Roethlisberger) are image-worthy, but you're going to fault a guy for scribbling some Bible verses up and down his arms?

What strikes me about these two stories right now is that they are both bellwether incidents that suggest a much greater shift in our society.

The recent Presidential election was our first big indication. Controversies over tattoos and cargo pants are just the continuing fallout as old mindsets and ways of doing business are challenged and changed as a more diverse and younger world view starts to take over.

If this new order wants to loosen up the rules a bit and challenge our cultural fixation with appearances then I'm all for it. If fads can change, why not intolerant people?

P.S. A new principal started this year and cargo pants are now OK again. Maybe she should send a memo to La Gorce.

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