Thursday Thoughts…Freedom of expression balanced with self restraint

by admin on June 24, 2011

As I sat down to my desk Thursday to publish that day’s blog post, I received a phone call from AT&T informing me they were about to disconnect the phone in order to replace the telephone line coming into the property.  Within minutes I had a dead internet connection.  Ok, hadn’t planned on that so I consoled myself by canning 5 pints of raspberry jam and 4 pints of sweet pickle relish.

Concerning Wednesday’s blog post regarding Deshon Marman being removed from a US Airways flight after refusing to hike up his sagging pants, a few thoughts.

I’m not letting through most of the comments which reference racism. Sagging pants appears to be more of a generational thing than a racial fashion statement. I don’t know whereabouts readers live but in my neck of the woods, I see more white kids than black wearing them. Besides, did anyone actually watch the videos I posted or click the internal links?  The black politician with his almost entirely black staff initiating a crusade against sagging pants?  Or the black clothing designer who referred to sagging pants as akin to “cussing around your mother, it’s not something you want to do”?  Disliking sagging pants has absolutely nothing to do with racism.   Besides, several readers pointed out that earlier a white female was removed from a plane for inappropriate clothing choices.    She made the media circuit modeling what she was wearing when she was asked to exit the plane but her case never made quite the media stir that Marman has.

Several readers pointed out the apparent double standard that a white male dressed in skanky drag was not asked to change his clothing despite complaints by fellow passengers.   In the National Public Radio article, US Airways spokesperson claims that Marman was exposing a “body part”.  One presumes, due to the location of the clothing disfunction, that the body part in question was his penis or buttocks.   I’m sorry but freedom of expression does not extend to the right to expose body parts the vast majority of the population would prefer to not have to see in public.    Anyone who has been around male family members who prefer boxers knows that accidental escapes from the loosely buttoned fly is not uncommon so it was certainly within the realm of possibility that Marman exposed more than he intended to.

As for the skanky cross dresser, there is no double standard on my part.  He should have been told to cover up his minimally adequate blue skivvies with a  pair of pants.   Given how low ridng these skivvies are, I’m betting people were treated to views of his butt crack.    Does anyone remember the reality series “Airport” which focused on Southwest Airlines customer service?  They routinely asked passengers to change cloths and even went so far as to buy pants from an airport store for customers to wear.  Blue skivvied, skank man would have never stood a chance getting on a Southwest Airlines plane dressed like this……

Bint commented that there was a prior Ehell story in which a minister’s wife took issue with a bride’s choice of wedding dress and then referenced me as saying, “Ehell Dame responded that there was no etiquette violation in someone wearing something that didn’t break a dress code but that someone else just didn’t like. In fact there were a couple of stories where this was pointed out.”   The story in question was about different tastes in wedding dress styles, not an opposition to a skanky wedding dress.  No one has ever read of me defending someone’s right to dress in a manner which offends many people with a lack of propriety.   I’ve written many times that I have no interest in seeing boobs, cleavages down to the belly button, butt cracks, purposely promoted genital bulges,  treasure trails, penises escaping through the fly or peeking from under too short shorts, what color your underwear or thong is, and what color your pubic hair is.  Just spare me, OK?  TMI overload.

A person’s freedom to wear whatever they wish must be balanced with self restraint to not push that freedom so far that it offends people with excessive displays of body parts many people would prefer not to see in public.   When people fail to execute any self restraint in how they express themselves publicly, that is when external restraint becomes necessary.   Wear a thong bikini in a family oriented hotel’s pool and you will be asked to leave.   Wear your pants so low that your penis is in danger is making a surprise guest appearance, you will be asked to cage him more appropriately.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Twik June 24, 2011 at 8:25 am

Regarding the guy in drag – I would expect to be thrown off an airplane if I showed up in my underwear only. Why should a man not be thrown off for the same thing? Goodness knows, as a fellow passenger, I would rebel at being asked to sit next to someone who was not fully clothed. If he wants to be in drag, fine, but that includes a dress.

I’m pretty sure that the incident with the “pants on the ground” became a bigger deal because of the prior incident. I suspect the airline realized that if they claim to “not have a dress code”, then people *will* push the limit as far as they can.


Joe J June 24, 2011 at 8:29 am

I can’t believe that cross-dressing guy was even allowed IN the airport itself – what on earth would make a grown man think that is appropriate to wear, other than an twisted need to be the center of attention, for whatever reason?

That reality series (I think it’s “Airline”, actually) should be required viewing for anyone who is ever planning on flying, ever. It’s still on late night (11pm for me) during the week on one of the Lifetime channels – do yourself a favor and watch it, if you can. Not only is it entertaining, but you can’t watch it and not walk away with significantly more empathy for airline workers.


Vrinda June 24, 2011 at 8:40 am

I think there is also a money issue involved. The idiot cross-dresser was flying first class, and Marman flew economy class. Southwestern probably didn’t want to eject the skanky crossdresser because they didn’t want to lose his business, since he was able to afford first-class tickets and probably has more money.


Chicken June 24, 2011 at 9:15 am

Love the photo. It’s moments like these that bring to mind a saying of my mothers that I’m quite fond of. If you’re going to wear women’s clothing, at least dress like a lady.


Just trying June 24, 2011 at 9:51 am

Regarding the saggy-pants airline passenger: If a flight attendant or other crew member asks you to do something, you do it. You don’t argue. Just comply.

If you believe the request was out of line, then take it up with the airline Customer Service folks later.

I agree, entirely, that there are standards for decent attire in various public places and flouting those standards is evidence of poor judgement.


Bubs June 24, 2011 at 10:02 am

I couldn’t possibly agree more, Dear Dame!!

I had some married friends whose definition of marital fidelity was quite a bit looser than the norm and has gotten increasingly looser as time has gone on. Many turned a blind eye to this on the premise that what they did in their bedroom was their business based on the fact that everyone’s husbands had been friends since kindergarten. When I began dating my then-boyfriend, the wife pulled me aside and offered me this nugget of advice – “to have a happy marriage, do whatever you have to do to keep your man happy in bed even if it is reprehensible to you.” Ummmm…we’d been dating for less than a month and, just, no.

After nursing several babies and deciding that they were done with the procreating portion of the program, she decided to have some cosmetic surgery done to her breasts. Ostensibly, at least to the wives in the group, it was done for her own self esteem. In practice, it was done for reasons having nothing to do with that and served as a walking, talking, bouncing billboard ad for their extramarital proclivities.

She began showing up at all manner of “family and friend” functions braless and with tops cut down-to-there. No amount of girl power, respect yourself pep talks from those of us who were still trying to be friendly with her could convince her that her manner of dress was inappropriate and disrespectful to everyone.

The last straw was when she started showing up at the weekly beach volleyball games wearing nothing but cheerleader shorts and Flashdance sweatshirts, vigorously pursuing the ball in all corners of the court for maximum bounce. One by one, most of us allowed that friendship to wither because we weren’t comfortable with either her lack of respect for herself or her lack of respect for us and our husbands.


Just Laura June 24, 2011 at 10:09 am

Apparently you all didn’t hear about this woman:


Bint June 24, 2011 at 10:10 am

“In the National Public Radio article, US Airways spokesperson claims that Marman was exposing a “body part”.”

Had we been given this information at the beginning this would have been entirely different. If this is true then the entire first article is meaningless. Obviously nobody gets to fly with their willy out!

People’s standards for what constitutes decent attire varies massively. We are not automatically correct simply because we are more modest than others.


Jared Bascomb June 24, 2011 at 10:47 am

I’ve been on two planes where a passenger was asked to leave (pre-departure, of course!) or was not allowed to board because of improper dress and in the latter case, their companions were also told to deboard. (One was JetBlue, and the other was either JetBlue or Southwest.) Unfortunately, I never saw the persons in question, so I don’t know what their fashion violation was, but judging by the folks that I *have* seen on planes, it must have been pretty bad.

I saw one guy on flight from SF who was wearing an old T-shrit whose sleeves had been ripped off and the sides torn all the way down to the waistband; other than a strip of cloth in front and in back, he was pretty much topless, and yet he was allowed on. My own personal rule is: no bare skin against the seatback, regardless of your gender. Knee-length shorts are OK, esp on a flight to Hawaii where long pants are an encumbrance and unnecessary, but not Daisy Dukes.


Hal June 24, 2011 at 11:33 am

Any of these garment oddities function to bring attention to the wearer. Teen boys love the frowns and remarks their baggy pants incite. Same with the drag guy. Why else wear such stuff? I smile and walk on by, if appropriate. No nasty looks or remarks. I walk on by if the situation looks like it might get physical. We fuel the flames by opposing such stuff. Do your complaining in private. And, CLICHE ALERT: “This too shall pass.”


Twik June 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Vrinda, I believe both were on United, not SW. Southwest just got mentioned because of their tv show.

Also, I’d imagine they might get more of their high-paying customers complaining if Mr. Underwear was in First Class (“I didn’t pay that much to sit next to someone who’s nearly naked! And if I did, they’d be better looking than him!”) Possibly, the staff were simply not informed of how to deal with it(I mean, a lot of people would think it’s not necessary to train staff that people can’t be seated in their underwear). After that incident, the word came down that they *should* be enforcing such standards.


EB June 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm

I am disappointed in the way this blog was written.

Per the SF Chronicle blog, which incidentally has a video of part of the altercation. Per the seatmate, the young man was wearing “sweatpants sagged to mid-thigh level and revealed skin-tight black underwear” (

i am disappointed because generally E-H Dame errs on the side of giving people the benefit of the doubt. Here she leaps to conclusions, arguing that the young man must of been flashing people with body parts when in reality this young man was also apparently wearing skivvies.

I am so disappointed in you, E-H Dame. Your blog reaches a wide number of people, yet you are making assumptions regarding this young man that could have easily been dispelled by going to the SF Chronicle website and reading up on this issue.

Unfortunately, a large number of people will read your blog, but will not read the coverage which quotes people who were actually on the plane and exonerates the young man from the charges you are making against him.


admin June 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I didn’t leap to a conclusion that Marman was flashing a body part. The spokesperson for US Airways cited that he was hence the reason for his being asked to pull up his pants.

A passenger who witnessed Marman said his pants were “sagged to mid-thigh level and revealed skin-tight black underwear.” Sorry. that doesn’t change my opinion one iota. Marman should have hiked up his pants and kept them up for the duration of the flight as requested. And blue bikini guy should have appropriate pants on as well.


The Elf June 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Vrinda has a good point. I bet this does boil down to money. Mr. Tight Panties not only flies first class but, judging by the number of pictures of him in different outfits, flies frequently on the same airline. He probably is a member of whatever frequent-flier program they have. Marmon, on the other hand, flew economy. While being on college football team probably means he flies fairly frequently, it is likely under the college program. So, he doesn’t get the same level of special treatment. A policy overlooked for sake of money gets enforced for him.

FWIW, I stand by my original comment. I don’t like sagging pants (or tight panties on men sans pants), but as long as the naughty bits are all covered then I really don’t care.


Aje June 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Isn’t crossdresser guy cold? My gosh, I’m always freezing on the plane and I wear long pants and a sweater!


Kat June 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm

If a body part was exposed, it changes my answer. That IS inappropriate, and the airline had every right to refuse service.


Twik June 24, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Hal, I’m afraid I remember when I was a child, and the “hip” generation started dressing for shock effect, people saying that “Oh, just ignore them and eventually, they’ll give up. If they get no reaction, soon everyone will be dressing in a pleasing, non-exhibitionist manner, and settle for just trying to look nice, not causing heart attacks in ‘respectable’ people. If they see no boundaries, they’ll forget about trying to break them.”

Hasn’t worked so far, has it?


Bint June 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Interesting given that by Middle Eastern standards all our women dress like slappers.

“her lack of respect for herself”

Never, ever assume that a scantily clad woman with a boob job doesn’t respect herself, simply ecause she has a different view on life and morals to your own. You don’t have to like it, but spare us your assumption of superiority. You think she’s cheap. She thinks you’re up yourself and boring.

I am a very old-fashioned wife myself and I’m way too old for scanty kit. I just don’t think I’m somehow better than someone who likes flashing her cleavage. This smugness sticks in my craw, get over yourselves!


The Elf June 24, 2011 at 5:15 pm

The airline always has the right to refuse service. I don’t think that’s really the issue, at least not in my mind. I just think it wasn’t particularly good business. Dress codes have a way of becoming insidious.

Admin, the lack of specificity makes me wonder exactly what he was flashing. I think if it were the naughtier parts they would have said so. He could have flashed a bit of thigh. Really, he should have pulled them up when asked. But I also wonder why they asked. “Flashed a body part” doesn’t really help me in wondering why.


Jennifer June 24, 2011 at 5:38 pm

I’m only going to touch on racism in a a very broad way. A single incident like this is not enough to level racism. If there was a pattern of who was kicked off of flights, that would be a different story. I haven’t seen anything like that.


Cat June 24, 2011 at 6:47 pm

In 1975, I had to send a seventeen year old boy home from a final exam in high school two days in a row because he insisted in sitting on the front row in short, short shots sans underware with a body part hanging out that one normally notices only on large, male dogs.

He was highly offended that I dared to discipline him over his choice of dress (undress?) and came that way the second day to show me he didn’t care what I said. Who was a twenty-five year old female teacher to tell him how to dress?


MyLovelyBugs June 24, 2011 at 11:57 pm

People keep mentioning the older man in the blue skivvies didn’t get kicked off because he was in first class. Southwest airlines does not have first class. They are economy only. Maybe they mean priority boarding? That costs more, but there’s no first class. So that pobably wasn’t he reason he didn’t get kicked off.


Jillybean June 25, 2011 at 9:09 am

MyLovelyBugs – the man in woman’s underwear wasn’t flying Southwest though. He was flying US Air – just like our saggy pants flyer. The post mentions Southwest as an airline that probably wouldn’t have let him board at all.


gramma dishes June 25, 2011 at 11:01 am

MyLovelyBugs ~~ I think the guy in the blue bikini panties was on US Airways, not Southwest. I could be wrong.


mbenedict June 25, 2011 at 11:11 am

My mother had one rule for me dressing growing up. The outfit must be clean and modest–no midriff, cleavage, skirts and dresses must be knee length, and not skin tight. I always felt I could be myself within those perimeters.


appropriate June 25, 2011 at 8:25 pm

just a funny cartoon i just ran across that seems appropriate to the subject matter.


jen a. June 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Great points and conversation all around, but can I just add that I think it’s hilarious that the man in the blue panties (manties?) is wearing a little cardigan to cover up his upper half? He’s very obviously one classy dame;)


karma June 27, 2011 at 5:44 am

Again, if there is no specific policy, the employees on duty have to make the call. Faulting one employee for doing or not doing something and attributing it to the whole airline is crazy. It’s the same as wondering why one counter server gives out free ice, but another charges 25 cents a cup. Plainly, it’s the luck of the draw when some things get by and others don’t.
At the end of the day, if a passenger is asked to do or not do something, how hard is it to comply? Pull ’em up, cover ’em up, or tuck ’em in until you disembark. Then you can look as stupid as you wish until you enter another establishment with standards of dress.


LonelyHound June 27, 2011 at 11:08 am

I do have one thing to add to this. On every flight I have been on the flight attendant comes over the loudspeaker and says, “Federal law requires you to obey ALL crew member instructions and lighted placards.” Regardless of whether or not you feel they are being clothing nazis or that instruction should be reserved for emergency situations only, I think the airline does have the right to ask a willful passenger to leave. If they cannot obey the simple request to pull your pants up then how can the attandents be sure they will obey instructions when it counts? (A little extreme, I know.)


--E June 27, 2011 at 11:13 am

Wow, there’s a lot of pearl-clutching going on for a problem that goes back at least to the era of pumpkin hose and codpieces.

Do I think an airline has a right to require a certain standard of clothing? Of course, so long as they (a) notify travelers in advance, and (b) enforce it consistently.

I realize that everyone thinks it’s common sense that someone shouldn’t wear their pants falling off, showing more of their privates than the world generally wants to see. But anyone of rational age should be aware that “common sense” is a profound oxymoron. Common sense tells people all sorts of stupid things, from “the world is flat” to “the trickle-down theory works.” Alas, reality demonstrates the failure of common sense again and again.

Believing that “people will think about how their clothing annoys others and will dress so as not to annoy” is a failure of common sense. People in general have not been trained to care about how people outside their circle of friends and acquaintances perceive them. Whether we regard this is a failing worthy of punishment, a handicap worthy of pity and remediation, or a cause for political activism is determined by our individual situation.


many bells down June 27, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I have seen that guy in the underwear several times. I thought I had read that he goes to the airport like that in protest of the TSA’s policies. Given that, I wonder if he changes before he actually boards the flight? The article seemed to imply that panties-guy was on the plane in the underwear, but on a second reading it was unclear if he actually boarded like that or not. All the photos of him I’ve seen are on the concourse.

It is strange that, given the choice, I’d rather see panties-guy than saggy-pants. At least panties-guy is entertaining. I mean, they both look ridiculous in my opinion, but saggy-pants looks like everyone else. I find myself respecting panties-guy’s courage more than I’m horrified at his outfit.


--E June 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm

many bells down: “It is strange that, given the choice, I’d rather see panties-guy than saggy-pants.”

–>I agree. I think it’s because panties-guy is well aware of how people are reacting to him, and he’s doing it deliberately. He’s so over-the-top, there’s an element of either fun, or serious statement-making. (Or both. They’re not mutually exclusive.)

The droopy-drawers thing is either (a) someone trying to be deliberately offensive (the gangsta/jailhouse thing), or (b) someone who honestly thinks that saggy pants look good. Perhaps a side dose of thinking they’re doing something daring and original. Whatever it is, it speaks of a severe lack of self-awareness.


Enna June 29, 2011 at 10:16 am

The man should have worn a skirt or a dress. Got nothing wrong with cross dressers, so long, like everyone else they dress properly. People should wear proper and appriopate clothing for travelling. What would happen if someone spilt hot tea/coffee down him? It’s not safe.


See August 7, 2011 at 2:54 am

It’s probably more of a as long as nothing offensive is showing they can’t really throw him off thing. While I wouldn’t want to sit next to him as far as I can see nothing is showing. Since the undies are so tight I doubt they’re sagging in the back.


Risto Vähämaa November 12, 2015 at 7:50 am

Does anyone really think that’s a good look?A man dressing up like that?


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