On Tuesday, Montana lawmaker David “Doc” Moore (R-Missoula) introduced House Bill 365 into the Montana legislature to strengthen the state’s indecency laws. The Republican wants to enforce stricter modesty standards on the state, to end the scourge of yoga pants and visible nipples.
House Bill 365 would ban the exposure of genitals, pubic hair or nipples. It also bans any tight fitting clothing that would simulate the genitals, or pubic hair region, or that would give “the realistic appearance of a nipple or areola”. An exemption is made to permit breastfeeding mothers to allow their babies to nurse.
During the debate, Moore stated that tight-fitting beige clothing could qualify as indecent exposure under his proposal. Following the hearing on his bill, he added that “yoga pants should be illegal in public anyway.”
Montana’s indecent exposure laws carry unusually harsh sentences. A first-time offender can spend up to six months in jail. A repeat offender committing his or her third offense can face up to a 10,000 dollar fine and life imprisonment. Moore apparently recognized the absurdity of life imprisonment for a three-time yoga pants wearer, so his bill does, at least, call for the maximum sentence to be reduced to five years in jail and a 5000 dollar fine.
The legislation was apparently drafted in response to a “Bare as you Dare” bicycle event, where nude cyclists peddled through downtown Missoula on August 17, 2014. Moore’s bill would not only reaffirm his opposition to public nudity, but it would extend protecting the public from having to view tight-fitting beige yoga pants as well.
Moore serves as yet another example that while the party of “small government” considers requiring corporations to abide by safety and environmental regulations needlessly burdensome, they have no problem with a state mandated dress code for ordinary citizens. To Republican conservatives, regulations that prohibit corporate exploitation are an infringement on liberty, but laws that regulate personal wardrobe choices are just dandy. Wear yoga pants to the fitness club and some Republicans want to put you in jail. That is a strange way for Republicans to show how much they value individual liberty.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.