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Writer's Block: Prohibited

Today marks the passing of the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which repealed Prohibition. It might seem crazy to us now, but alcohol was illegal in the U.S. for 13 years. What common vice do you think is most likely to be outlawed in the future?


Without question, tasteless clothing.

The year was 1970, only five years after Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in response to civil disobedience and protests organized by Martin Luther King, Jr. and others. Two generations later, with an African American having been elected to the White House, such conditions are hardly imaginable, but there was a time when - as we took our first tentative steps out of the dark ages and into a new age of enlightenment - prejudice was to be deplored, but still an integral part of the American psyche.

It was during this period that a Philadelphia real estate executive and television writer named Steve De Souza wrote a piece for True for Today's Man entitled "Sartorial Prejudice". The piece is brilliant but dated, hence this introductory disclaimer. It is satire, its message is inherently one of anti-discrimination, but preserves some of the attitudes prevalent during the day. Advocates of political correctness will probably get their knickers all up in a twist when they read it.



Otherwise, enjoy it.

Sartorial Prejudice - Hate without Race


by Steve de Souza

Printed in "True for Today's Man"

Prejudice is probably America's most maligned pastime. Every day we read dozens of articles about the damage done by prejudice - but do we ever hear about the good it does? How many parents, baffled by the generation gap, have formed warm relationships with their children based solely on mutual prejudice? How many couples, on the brink of divorce, have reunited to fight the first Negro on the block? What could ever replace the warm, wonderful feeling prejudice gives us every time we get together to grumble about our enemies? Nothing, that's what.

But lately prejudice has shown dangerous signs of disappearing. Liberal propaganda is preaching tolerance everywhere. Old-fashioned healthy hatred is going out of style.

Probably the main failure of existing prejudice is its dependence on geography; too often targets are never around when we need them. Let's face it... the true goal of bigotry is not really to send them all back where they came from; The real joys come in those magical moments when we can shove an elderly Negro off the sidewalk, or blackball a Jewish country-club applicant. If all the Negroes and Jews really stayed out of our way for a week or two, we'd be reduced to pulling the wings off of flies for entertainment or turning turtles over on their backs. Yes, America needs more prejudice, not less. And what this country needs is a new, dynamic prejudice that we can all instantly embrace.

But where can such a godsend be found? To answer that question simply and succinctly I ask all of you to answer this question honestly:

Who would you rather see your daughter marry - a Negro or a man who wears Argyle socks?

The answer, of course, is obvious. If there is anything that George Wallace, Ted Kennedy and Tom Hayden have in common it is that none of them would be caught dead in a string tie. In deed, there is nothing which can be so relied upon for arousing sheer scorn, mockery and hatred as clothing.

Sartorial Prejudice is, therefore, the modern prejudice for a modern America. Tasteless dressers are everywhere, hidden in every facet of society, wearing their rumpled jackets in front of our daughters, shamelessly flashing their Kresge's watchbands in our faces.

Under this system of Sartorial Prejudice we can now hate regardless of race, religion or creed. No other prejudice can make that statement. With Sartorial Prejudice the number of people we can despise, boycott and gerrymander is increased a thousandfold. And, with Sartorial Prejudice, you need never again be fooled by a suntan or an anemic condition, a "process" hairdo or a changed name. One look at his tie and you will know.

At first the effects of Sartorial Prejudice will be subtle. Men wearing suspenders will be asked to sit in the back of the bus. Women with beehive hairdos and rolled stockings will find employment only as domestics.

But slowly, gradually, Sartorial Prejudice will move into the mainstream as a grateful people embraces its philosophy. Men with convertible shirt cuffs or stretch belts will be refused service at lunch counters; separate water fountains for snap-tab and spread collars will appear.

Of course, it will not be all that easy or painless. The few hard-liners in white socks will be lynched here and there, and for a time a dark night will fall upon America as roving gangs of young toughs in Chesterfield coats prowl the streets terrorizing anyone wearing a clip-on tie.

Eventually Sartorial Prejudice will become national policy. Federal employees will have to supply proof that, for three generations, no one in their family has worn stripes with plaids. TV cameras will be hidden in company washrooms - workers caught in sleeveless undershirts or valentine shorts will be given notice.

And as far as resolving our current social problems once and for all, well, Sartorial Prejudice has no equal. Just think of the change Sartorial Prejudice will make in the status of Negroes.

As we all know, along with all that singing and dancing, Negroes are among the nation's sharpest dressers. Under Sartorial Prejudice they will catapulted instantly to the highest levels of society. They will be welcomed - nay, beckoned - into the most exclusive neighborhoods and clubs.

Who then will be the new oppressed? Well, down at the bottom of the Sartorial scale - below Richard Nixon, hog butchers and real-estate salesmen - will be teachers. For unknown reasons, even well-to-do professors who publish on time and have tenure continue to wear those horrible clothes.

Well, some people never learn and just can't be taught. We can only hope that, inspired by their lowly status, the will begin to teach their natty, well-creased students some slight degree of tolerance.

STEVE DE SOUZA IS A PHILADELPHIA REAL ESTATE EXECUTIVE AND TELEVISION WRITER - AND THE LAST PERSON IN THE WORLD ONE WOULD EXPECT TO SEE IN SADDLE SHOES.


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Comments

deckardcanine
Dec. 5th, 2008 10:24 pm (UTC)
Maybe movies in which actors actually have sex. It's basically public prostitution.
deckardcanine
Dec. 5th, 2008 10:24 pm (UTC)
On second thought, that doesn't count as a "common vice," does it.

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