My Life of (Hoodie) Crime

Nothing becomes a hoodlum like a hoodie, right?

I must have been busy vacuuming pine needles out of the carpet all last week, because somehow I completely missed the news that an Oklahoma state legislator has proposed a law that would ban citizens from wearing hoodies. As a result, I spent much of the past few days in a state of potential criminality, visiting the YMCA, the grocery store, the liquor store and Petco in an outfit that soon could soon cost me a $500 fine in Tulsa or OKC. (Interesting side note: According to Wikipedia, the word “Oklahoma” comes from the Choctaw “okla” and “humma,” meaning “red people.” Don’t tell Dan Snyder.)

Even more shockingly, I bought both my kids instruments of crime for Christmas this year.

I was amazed — make that astonished — to learn that anti-hoodie laws currently exist in 10 other states, including Florida, New York and California. Isn’t California where that Hollister company began? And isn’t every other hoodie you see a Hollister hoodie? Shouldn’t law enforcement do something about that?

If you’re puzzled as to why a staple of the average American wardrobe that miraculously solved the problem of a frigid zone between chin and collarbone has suddenly become weaponized, I guess you’re not Republican, because it’s Republicans who are pushing this legislation, which is intended, they say, to safeguard women and children and other chattel by protecting them from marauders who are disguising their identities by tightening the drawstrings on the hoods of their hoodies.

Maybe it never gets cold enough in Florida or California for anyone to legitimately tighten the hood of a hoodie, but my son goes to college in upstate New York, and I can tell you it’s very, very cold there in winter, and they have something they call “lake snow.” Critics of the legislation say it’s aimed at letting cops accost whoever the hell they want for no reason other than their outerwear. (For a history of the hoodie as both clothing and symbol, click here. You know who has a ban on hoodies? The NBA. Since 2005.) Whatever it is, it doesn’t exactly seem like a way to get government off our backs.

But State Senator Don Barrington, the dude who proposed the hoodie bill, insists it’s a matter of public safety: “Oklahoma businesses want state leaders to be responsive to their safety concerns, and this is one way we can provide protection,” he told the Huffington Post. It seems this guy who runs a liquor store was robbed at gunpoint once, and the robber was — you guessed it! — wearing a hoodie. In logic, this is a fallacy known as cum hoc ergo propter hoc. In Oklahoma, it’s reason to pass a law.

I find his proposal puzzling, particularly since early last year, another Oklahoma state senator, fellow Republican Nathan Dahm, introduced a bill he called the “Piers Morgan Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms Without Infringement Act,” which would allow citizens of his state to carry unlicensed guns in the open. In arguing for the legislation, Dahm said that “when we require our citizens to jump through hoops, pay fees and undergo a process that presumes they’re guilty of something until proven otherwise, their rights are being infringed upon.” A stirring appeal to liberty! Yet Senator Barrington seems to be presuming that those who don hoodies are, um, guilty of something, namely plotting nefarious deeds. Even when all they’re really doing is picking up some Science Diet for the kitten they have only one more week of cat-sitting, thank holy God.

I guess you have to be a Republican to understand why a state would want to make toting guns around easier than it already is while wiping out the standard winter-weather gear of my son and daughter and just about every single person they know. Or Oklahoman, at least.

Follow @SandyHingston on Twitter.

Previously: Philly Man Angers New Yorkers With No-Hoodies Signs