Pajama Pants Prohibition and the Decline of Critical Thinking in Caddo Parish, Louisiana

Do you ever read a news story and just shake your head in total bewilderment?  Prepare to start shaking your head now.

My friend Jessica Miller-Merrell of Blogging4Jobs brought the following news story to my attention:  Louisiana Official Moves to Ban Wearing Pajamas in Public

Here are a few excerpts from the news story:

“Michael Williams, a Caddo commissioner, is proposing an ordinance that will prohibit locals from wearing pajama pants in public after an incident at a local Walmart offended the official and other customers. Williams said one of a group of young men clad in pajama pants revealed his private parts, inciting the idea for the ban.”

“If you can’t [wear pajamas] at the boardwalk or courthouse, why are you going to do it in a restaurant or in public? Today it’s pajamas,” Williams told the Times. “Tomorrow it’s underwear. Where does it stop?”

With all of the problems in today’s economy, education, and unemployment rate, this is what Caddo Parish is spending their time legislating- pajamas!  When I first read the article I double-checked the source, because I was positive that something this absurd must have come from The Onion, but I was wrong.  The story is sad and true.

I could spend all day ridiculing the bill, its intent, and Michael Williams, but instead let’s focus on the critical thinking aspect of this proposal.

1)  The ordinance was proposed after some young men exposed themselves in a local Walmart.  In critical thinking, it is essential that we define the problem before we offer an appropriate solution.  In this case, the problem is indecent exposure in public.  The proposed solution is banning the style of pants worn by the accused in this particular case– pajama pants.  Here are some critical thinking questions we should ask ourselves before placing a ban on pajama pants:

  • Do all indecent exposure cases involve pajama pants?
  • How often do indecent exposure cases involve pajama pants?
  • What is unique about pajama pants as compared to any other style of pants?
  • Are pajama pants the problem?
  • Will banning pajama pants stop indecent exposure?

2)  Michael Williams believes that allowing pajama pants to be worn in public is a slippery slope towards allowing underwear in public.

  • The Slippery Slope argument is one of the most common logical fallacies.  Just because X happens does not mean that Y will inevitably happen as well.
  • If you want to legislate against wearing underwear in public, then do that.  Do not use another ordinance as a Trojan Horse for future legislation.
  • If they do pursue future legislation against wearing underwear in public, they will hopefully be prepared to define the difference between a bra/panties and a bikini (for example).  Thin line…

3)  And now on to my favorite problem with this ordinance- how do you define pajama pants?

  • Not all pajama pants are pink, fuzzy, and covered in Hello Kitty (though in my perfect world, they would be).
  • Many women wear yoga pants as pajama pants.
  • Many men wear track pants or basketball shorts as pajamas.
  • And let’s not forget about the 21st century miracle invention of the Pajama Jeans!
  • So, should we outlaw wearing yoga pants, track pants, pajama jeans, and basketball shorts in public or only pants with cartoon characters on them?

4)  Will the ordinance stipulate an age requirement for enforcement of the law?  Michael Williams, I would duck and cover if you plan to ban all pajama pants in public regardless of age.  The first time you try to cite a mother headed into Walmart while carrying  a pajama-wearing toddler who has the sniffles will not end well.

Whether you think it is fashionably appropriate for a person to wear pajamas in public isn’t the issue.

The fact is that Michael Williams isn’t seeking this ordinance as a “crime against fashion”- he’s seeking the ordinance as a solution for public indecency.  I would argue that it is just as easy to expose oneself in pajama pants as it is in drawstring basketball shorts.  Banning pajama pants doesn’t solve the indecent exposure issue at all.  And if the solution doesn’t address the true problem, then we are not critically thinking.

What do you think about the Pajama Prohibition?

Do you think Michael Williams and Caddo Parish are thinking critically?

(Image source #1)

Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens. She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training. She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.

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4 responses to “Pajama Pants Prohibition and the Decline of Critical Thinking in Caddo Parish, Louisiana”

  1. Rachael

    Australia removed the law against wearing slippers outside the house sometime in the 1980s – it was something that had been put in place in the 1800s to deal with the problem of ‘peeping Toms’ apparently…

  2. Breanne

    Interesting! I’m so curious how slippers and peeping toms became paired together. Fascinating!

  3. tonnee

    I think Michael Williams problem was that he could see where the guys “junk” was and NOT that they exposed them selves. First this might be a great reason for term limits. Second when will equal rights really exist. He was not upset about a shapely young lady but lord forbid you should be able to tell a guy is a guy.

  4. jason

    This comment of mine was posted in reference to another which went something like “nothing says I’m a lazy slob like pajama pants”

    Nothing says ‘I have an antibiotic resistant infection that put me in the hospital for 8 months last year’ like pajama pants. Nothing says ‘I have end stage renal disease and have to go to dialysis three times a week and sit there for four hours in discomfort’ like pajama pants. Nothing says ‘I’m sick and I don’t feel well and most every day is a struggle so today I didn’t do my hair or put on any make-up or nice clothes and my husband is busy with work so we go to the store and shop for our family when we can fit it in between doctor visits and treatment’ like some gosh darn, flippin’ pajama pants.
    Maybe I’m having a bad day today but this really put’s the icing on my cake. I live in the Shreveport area and this rant describes my family and our situation. A lot of the comments here make some good points that seem common sense to me. Yeah it lazy to wear pajama pant in public and I do believe we don’t have the same standards we used too. I’m not completely sure though of the connection between people who wear pajama pants and people who expose their “private parts” in public.
    And obviously I am not aware of what is going on in the minds of the people who represent us and pass laws or ordinances to govern our lives. Apparently I will need to get a little more involved in the process and at least write some letters to let them know how I feel and how what they do affects me and my family.

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